Eds. Kevin Concannon (Texas A&M-Corpus Christi) and Pedro García-Caro (University of Oregon)
Call for Papers:
Recent critical attention to the transnational, the hemispheric, the global and the postnational has created the sense that the nation as a critical category has outlived its usefulness. This sense, of course, belies the nation’s continuing political importance. The nation becomes understood as a limiting critical category in these recent discussions even as narratives of the nation continue to orient individual understandings of belonging and identity. This seeming contradiction emphasizes how hemispheric or global understandings struggle to shake the nation’s continuing importance. This doubleness is reflected in the currency of such terms as the transnational or the postnational, where the crossings that define these terms cannot escape the “nation” that remains at their root.
This collection seeks to explore this paradox, by asking what it means to construct a postnational spaciousness. Can the postnational exist within the nation or must it always be considered beyond it? How might the postnational be constructed? Could the postnational, in fact, precede or participate in the development of the nation? This collection will be interested in exploring the importance of this temporality, asking specifically whether this time “after” actually means the end of the nation. As Jacques Derrida shows in The Post Card (1987) one of the many meanings of the prefix “post” has to do with mail and its delivery, and as a result with everyday concerns over delayed mail, lost mail and mail that is changed or marked by the act of delivery itself. Rather than being only understood as a prefix referring to what comes after, such as after the nation, “post” to Derrida carries with it the challenge of ever getting to this “after” point, an arrival that forever refers back and is unalterably changed by its very process. The post in this sense never arrives, and as such emphasizes not only the challenge of equating the postnational with being beyond the nation but also emphasizes the different temporal dimensions within the nation itself. Much as different nations can exist within the Nation, the collection will recognize the temporal fragmentation within the nation as well. The fact that individuals and communities develop within different representations of time emphasizes the different representations of postnational identity.
This fragmented understanding of the nation is reflected by our conceiving of the postnational in fragmented terms. The plurality of our title recognizes the ways in which race, ethnicity and gender participate in different ways in the construction of (post)national identity. This plurality, moreover, challenges any understanding of the postnational as “better” than the nation, by focusing instead on constructions of difference. In many ways, to see the postnational in singular terms means to understand it in terms of a national rhetoric, constructing this sense of “postness” in unified, individuated terms. Our collection seeks to complicate this approach by broadening our focus through a comparative approach that challenges potentially unifying categories, such as the hemispheric or the Black Atlantic.
Contributors may want to consider one or more of the following questions:
1) In what ways does the postnational differ from the nation? Does the term “post” imply a time “after” the nation, or, more importantly, “better” than the nation? How, in other words, does one define the relationship between the two terms?
2) If national borders are understood as porous, how does this impact our understanding of language and belonging? In other words, in what way does the mixture of languages and cultures complicate the possibility of a national identity? And how do texts use mixture as a means of identifying an audience that extends beyond a national “audience”?
3) In what ways have traditional models of im/migration been complicated by the porousness of geographic conceptualizations of nation, as well as by the globalization of economics and culture?
4) How is neoliberal globalization related to the concept of a postnational space-time? Are there alternative postnational forms, institutions, networks and cultural formations that reclaim, mourn or evoke in any way the internationalist utopias of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries? Is the contemporary form of postnationalism only one possible - deficient, predatory, neocolonial - version of internationalist postnationalism?
5) Cosmopolitanism appears to be a satisfactory term to do away with the idea of the nation without necessitating or alluding to its lexical roots. But how are issues of race, gender, class and ethnicity determining factors in the construction of a cosmopolitan cultural agenda? Is there indeed an emerging cosmopolitan culture? What are its defining modes of production? How do race/class relations, for instance, and in particular those generated by the geopolitical divisions between the Global North and the Global South limit or impinge on the feasibility of a cosmopolitan culture?
6) Is the classical Marxist division between a nationalism of the oppressed and a nationalism of the oppressors still a valid opposition to imagine contrasting forms of postnationalism?
Besides these questions here is a provisional list of possible terms and issues that will be addressed by the essay collection:
1. National nostalgia and national kitsch as forms of postnationalism.
2. Satires and parodies of national epics.
3. Transnationalism, globalization, and cultural attrition.
4. Cosmopolis and cosmopolitanism.
5. Internationalism, transnationalism: postnationalism as utopia or as dystopia.
6. Migrant subjectivities and migrant cultures.
7. Neocolonialism, (post)national formations in the postcolonial world.
8. Globalization and cultural formations.
9. Nation-states and stateless nations in a postnational setting.
10. Essentialism versus hybridity: identity formation, ethnic definitions beyond the nation-state.
11. Social justice and the post-national state.
E-mail one to two-page abstracts to Kevin Concannon (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Pedro García-Caro (email@example.com) by August 15, 2012.
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