Season of Migration to the North

Sex, Power, and Agency in "Season of Migration to the North" College

Tayeb Salihs Season of Migration to the Northwas published in 1966 during the ten years following the withdrawal of British forces from Sudan, and the plot takes place at about the same time. It was a tumultuous decade, an interregnum plagued by political conflict and the inability of the newly-independent country to establish an effective government. Many Sudanese citizens struggled to reclaim their national and cultural identity after their homeland had been occupied by a Western imperial power for an extended time. One such citizen is Mustafa Sa’eed, the protagonist whose ambiguous life story the unnamed narrator spends the novel’s entirety trying to dissect. The novel itself is a sort of allegorical commentary about Sudanese citizens’ efforts to gauge a sense of identity and autonomy in the confusing aftermath of Western intervention. One of the most prominent motifs of the work is Salih’s unfaltering politicization of sex, and its relations to power and agency.

To imperial powers, Eastern individuals have always been regarded as alien, and all depictions of the two cultures’ interaction (dismissing the fact that no singular “Westernor “Eastern” culture actually exist) inherently include portrayals of the West as the...

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