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Avoiding Eurocentric bias when judging literatureWhen judging books for prizes and...

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mjay25 | Student, Graduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted April 26, 2012 at 9:17 PM via web

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Avoiding Eurocentric bias when judging literature

When judging books for prizes and awards, should a separate set of criteria be applied to judging books written in English but from African writers, or would such separatist strategies risk rendering global and African literature as 'other' ?


What are your views on this, and how can Eurocentric bias be avoided?

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e-martin | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 26, 2012 at 10:55 PM (Answer #2)

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It seems that the criteria for the prizes and awards should be well-defined according to what elements, ideas, and qualities are most highly valued in literary work.

If the award criteria are clearly defined, then work from any culture or country could conceivably win, provided the work meets the criteria for the prize. 

This is not, apparently, the case for the uber-prestigious Nobel Prize which awards a medal and a monetary prize each year to a writer for a "significant contribution" to culture through literature. In fact, the Nobel website does not offer criteria as specific as "siginificant contribution" in its description of the award and so seems open to biased and arbitrary reckoning when considering deserving recipients. 

One answer then is to create clear criteria for each prize or award and strive to shape those criteria in such a way that avoids geographical or culture-specific bais. 

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 26, 2012 at 10:56 PM (Answer #3)

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Certainly many African writers, especially since the late 1960s, have defined themselves as exactly that- African writers. I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with it, though I do think the "global" label as defined against Western literature seems a little condescending and Euro-centric.

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