Date of Award

Spring 1991

Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 1991 Alison Carter. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Black Studies, Political Science

First Advisor

Peter Schmidt

Second Advisor

Hilliard Pouncy

Third Advisor

Charles L. James

Fourth Advisor

David G. Smith


It is clear that language, as one of the primary bases of culture, is a political institution which expresses all of the desires of a people and has even deeper significance by "mediating" and "shaping" reality for them. According to the author, our political institutions fall short of this if people do not have access to those mediums or whose mediums are distorted or realities are imposed. Nonetheless, it is also true that, given the interwoven and yet separate historical and political development of Africans and whites in this country, language functions differently for Africans and whites. This difference, often surfacing in double-meanings, literary oral tradition or multi-voiced narration, creates distinctive literary forms within canonical texts and texts which are thought to fall outside of often Western tradition. This distinction is again political. And though it has several implications for the study of African diaspora people, politics, society and culture, this work gives a look into such difference, necessary before political and social implications can be investigated.