This essay intervenes in debates surrounding trauma theory and postcolonial studies, tracing how forms of African animism can lead to a decolonized discourse of trauma. Taking the postcolonial critique of trauma theory’s Eurocentrism as a point of departure, the essay focuses on two contemporary novels of the African diaspora: Aminatta Forna’s The Memory of Love and Delia Jarrett-Macauley’s Moses, Citizen, and Me. Narrating local forms of survival in post–civil war Sierra Leone, these novels use animist modes of consciousness to theorize the collective trauma of, and envision political futures for, Sierra Leone. Forna’s writing is emblematic of realism, while Jarrett-Macauley’s is an example of animist realism. Both novels are united, however, by an animism at the level of narrative process, drawing on the spirit world and possession rituals to counter therapeutic and humanitarian ideologies.

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