Culture, assumption and the ‘Single Story’.
I discovered novelist Chimamanda Adichie today. She has the sort of career that makes me nervous as a writer. Her Wiki states that she has three degrees (one of which is from Yale); three fellowships (including one with Harvard), has written countless short stories and three books, two of which have been awarded prizes, she gives regular talks for TED, and teaches writing workshops in Nigeria and the US. Oh, and she’s only 35. No big deal [insert writer’s angst here].
Adichie’s novels include Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun, both of which were nominated for several awards including the Orange Prize for Fiction, with Purple Hibiscus winning the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize.
In the video below, Adichie talks about cultural assumptions and the danger of ‘single story’ perspectives. Both in the context of human relations and in reference to writing. She discusses how single story perspectives emphasize difference rather than similarity and reinforce stereotypes. At about 17:40 she discusses ambition and the power of a many story perspective saying
Stories matter, many stories matter, stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize…
I think that’s something relevant to everyone but especially relevant to creative people, to be aware of the stories you are creating and become accountable for what they say about a particular place, person or group of people.
Video courtesy of the lovely people at TED.
Click here to buy Adichie’s works.
[I promise I will update the citation of this post asap – so don’t birth a four legged herbivore, ok?]