Dr. Maurits was a PhD Candidate at the Research Training Group from 2012 to 2015. He finished and defended his dissertation in summer 2015. He worked as a lecturer at the Department of Comparative Literature of the LMU Munich in the summer term 2015. During the winter term 2015/16 he received a Postdoctoral fellowship from the Research Training group and continued to work as Postdoc at the Research Training Group in the summer term 2016.
Abstract of the Research Project
The Emergence of African Science Fiction
The aim of this project is to explain the recent emergence of the African science fiction (ASF) narrative. After the publication of the South African science fiction film District 9 (2009), many other African cultural productions appeared within that genre. The emergence is remarkable, because before D9 sci-fi was virtually nonexistent on the African continent. Authors like Chikere argued this is because it does not connect to “African” realities: “We are bothered about roads, electricity, water wars, famine, etc., not spacecrafts and spaceships.” Scholars, in turn, demonstrated science fiction narratives are predominantly produced by colonial powers, and use Africa as symbolic trope.
The main question of this project is that of what has changed. Why could a genre formerly seen as unsuitable and even as tool of empire become popular throughout the continent? And while a number of studies on individual ASF-narratives has been published, their emphasis is almost exclusively on gender and race relations. Both are important and could contribute to the central question, but cannot explain the emergence fully because historical conditions—what is called globalization in this project—are not taken into account. Hence, the focus is on the interplay between sci-fi’s narrative strategies and globalization, as opposed to the interplay of sci-fi proper and imperialism. Ultimately, the aim is to contribute to the understanding of how and why literary phenomena emerge in specific historical moments, and how existing narrative forms change when they move through time and space.
Considering the size of the phenomenon, the focus in this project will exclusively be on the films Pumzi (2009) and Monsoons over the Moon (2015), Borges Coelho’s novella City of Mirrors (2011), and Lauren Beukes novel Moxyland (2008).
Abstract of the Dissertation Project
The Ghost Story as Genre of World Literature
Recent theoretical debates on world literature aimed to rethink the concept to include "peripheral" literatures, or, the "great unread." Although this has been accomplished to a certain degree, both in theory and in practice, no theory ultimately succeeds in creating a concept of world literature that sufficiently accounts for inequalities in production, circulation, and consumption; not even when they start from the very figure of inequality. Thus, neoimperialist cartographies and capitalist hegemonic models of center and periphery are potentially reproduced, or are at least not revealed.
This project aims to show this by relating an overview of theories of world literature to the work of three Mozambican authors. The focus will be on novels by Mia Couto, João Paulo Borges Coelho, and Ungulani Ba Ka Khosa, which do not circulate well, are not widely read, and are only sporadically included in categories of world literature.
Additionally, the thesis proposes an alternative theoretical model to think world literature based on the figure of the ghost. Following Derrida’s characterization, the ghost is an unstuck, unsettling entity that has to be lived with and thus has the potential to resist hegemony. As such, more than a body of texts, a "ghostly" world literature becomes a force of resistance.
"Vanishing Migrants and the impossibility of a European Union". In: Interventions: Journal for Postcolonial Studies 17.4 (2015), S. 503-518.
Book Review: Poole, W. Scott. Monsters in America: Our Historical Obsession with the Hideous and the Haunting. In: Supernatural Studies 1.1 (2013), S. 101-104.
"The Mozambican ghost story: Local genre or global form?". In: Jernej Habjan, Fabienne Imlinger (Hgg.): Globalizing Literary Genres, London/New York: Routledge, 2016. Im Druck.