"At fange en stor fisk" - Rachels og Christians maskerede transaktionelle kærlighedsrelation i Jakob Ejersbos Afrika-trilogi som muligt udtryk for den koloniserede andens agens

Martin Hartmann

Studenteropgave: Speciale


The point of departure of this thesis is the postcolonial Africa trilogy by the Danish author Jakob Ejersbo. Particularly his representation of neocolonial and postcolonial cultural encounters and relationships between representatives of the European Aid Industry and the impoverished Tanzanians who live, work and seek their happiness in and around the Aid environment. I draw upon the postcolonial theory of Homi K. Bhabha as well as various articles by Christian Groes-Green, Jennifer Cole, Mark Hunter and Sarah Bandali dealing with transactional sex and reciprocity in Sub-Sahara. These scholars are all placed within the intersecting fields of postcolonial theory, feminist theory, cultural anthropology and ethnography. As the thesis centers on an analysis of a literary text, I also draw upon literary theory and methodology represented by Jørgen D. Johansen, Lis Møller and Svend E. Larsen. These perspectives are supplemented by various analyzes of the trilogy by Carsten Jensen, Elna Mortensen, Hansen et al., Lill-Ann Körber, Johannes Riis, Kirsten Thisted and Sylwia I. Schab. The main question(s) of the thesis is how to understand the masked transactional romantic relationship between the European character Christian and the Tanzanian character Rachel, as well as the extent to which this relationship can be interpreted as an expression of the colonized Other's agency. Throughout the thesis, I infer that Rachel demonstrates agency and power in relation to Christian in various ways, but that this agency and power has its clear limitations as well. Rachel’s agency and power is among other things exemplified in her mimicry-strategy, through which she forms a masked transactional romantic relationship with Christian. Imitating and confirming his gendered and racial stereotype perception of her as an exotic, erotic and sexually self-sacrificing black woman. Through this strategy, Rachel masks her underlying motives for the relationship with Christian, meanwhile taking charge of his will and possessions, thereby obtaining a share in his economic privileges. In contrast, her choice of forming a relationship with Christian is the result of a racial and class-related stereotype perception of him as a rich man belonging to the white upper class in Tanzania, which limits her agency. Eventually this stereotype does not hold up exemplified by Christian’s limited financial resources, as well as his lower class position in the Danish society. Despite Christian’s financial resources are limited, they nonetheless place him as part of the white upper class in Tanzania, which gives him a certain degree of racial, gendered, nationality- and class-related agency and power in relation to Rachel’s impoverished and vulnerable position. This lets him decide when and when not to share his various privileges with Rachel, which involves a significant limitation in her agency and power. The duality of Rachel’s agency and power also reflects in her breakup with Christian. I interpret this breakup as both a commodification of Rachel, who shifts hands between Christian and the Tanzanian male Rogarth, and also as Rachel’s strategic choice to switch men, as Christian doesn’t live up to her transactional expectations, which is done by using her gendered and racial sexual agency and power in relation to Rogarth. Despite the agency and power Rachel exhibits in multiple ways in relation to Christian, I conclude that their breakup indicates that her agency does not give her the power to overthrow the larger economic inequalities between her and Christian. This is interpreted as marking a major limitation in Rachel’s and thus the colonized Other's agency and power. Finally, I conclude that Ejersbo breaks with the traditional western Africa Literature by giving literary voice and dedicating his trilogy to the impoverished Tanzanian colonized Others. In this way, he shows how these Others are suffering under as well as taking advantage of their relationships with privileged Europeans. This illustrates that transactional relationships are a mutually constituted power relation, that varies depending on what the parties involved give and receive in exchange, although the relationships are usually to the advantage of the Europeans.

UddannelserKultur- og Sprogmødestudier, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
Udgivelsesdato4 aug. 2014
VejledereTore Elias Harsløf Holst


  • postkolonialisme
  • transaktionelle relationer
  • agens og magt
  • Afrika-trilogien
  • Ejersbo