Non-modern Africa and modern non-Africa: Intertextual discourse about who we are and where we came from


  • Mat J. Levitt Graduate of the University of Alberta



The idiom no man is an island might be rewritten as no text is an island, meaning that no text exists in literary isolation and that every piece of writing instead belongs to a landscape of others. References, endnotes, footnotes, bibliographies, and the use of phrase, term, or defi nition will situate a text within a discursive network of understandings, theories, paradigms, and genres. Intertextual discourses about the origins of humanity often cross generic boundaries between religion, science, informative media and entertaining fi ction through the sharing and borrowing of words and concepts. These genres, however reluctantly, inevitably engage with one another in what emerges as a single discourse about who we are and where we came from. Throughout this discourse, certain concepts have formed as time, place, and identity are linguistically associated with one another. The dichotomy of Non-Modern Africa as Other and Modern
Non-Africa as Self is one such concept. Caution must be exercised by researchers who wish to talk about human origins, as these types of concepts may have very real implications in political, economic, social, and cultural arenas.