Blackness, religion, aesthetics: Johannes Anyuru’s literary explorations of migration and diaspora


  • Anne Heith Umeå University



Johannes Anyuru, Afro-Swedishness, diaspora aesthetics, hybridization, skin colour, Islam


The article analyses deconstructions of the European construct from the vantage point of how skin colour, physical appearance and religion have been used for drawing boundaries between white, Christian Europe and the black, Muslim world. The analysis is based on literary texts by the Afro-Swedish author Johannes Anyuru. The article proposes that his first collection of poems from 2003, the first novel from 2010 and a multifaceted text from 2011, which is a kind of diary on the surface level, contribute to the shaping of new notions of belonging, home and identity that challenge ideas of cultural purity and homogeneity. On the level of aesthetics the texts exemplify a diaspora aesthetic characterized by hybridization. This involves a mixture of elements from various stylistic registers and locations from within and outside Europe.

Author Biography

Anne Heith, Umeå University

Anne Heith, associate professor in comparative literature, Department of Culture and Media Studies, Umeå university, Sweden. Researcher in Border Poetics, University of Tromsø, Norway, 2008–2010. Guest researcher at the Hugo Valentin Centre, Uppsala university, Sweden, November–December 2009, January–February and November–December 2012. Participates in the Border Aesthetics Project funded by the Norwegian Research Council (the Kulver programme). Member of the steering committee of the research network DINO (Diversity in Nordic Literature). Research interests include contemporary Nordic literatures, national identity, ethnic literary studies, postcolonialism, indigenous studies, critical race and whiteness studies and gender studies. Has published extensively in a number of Nordic and international journals. Latest book (in Swedish): Texter, medier, kontexter (2006).




How to Cite

Heith, Anne. 2014. “Blackness, religion, aesthetics: Johannes Anyuru’s literary explorations of migration and diaspora”. Nordlit, no. 31 (July):59-70.