American Comparative Literature Association Annual Meeting
Seminar panel: Dwelling in Diaspora
New York University, 20-23 March 2014
Seminar Organizers: Elizabeth Syrkin (University of Muenster), Khachig Tölölyan (Wesleyan University)
The study of diasporas often privileges a vocabulary and rhetorics of displacement, deterritorialization, hybridity, and movement. This hypervaluation of mobility can be partially attributed to its conflation with economic advancement, freedom, and agency. While such a focus undeniably has done and continues to do great work, with its link to the destabilization of dominant and essentialist discourses, it has in turn relegated what may be called the sedentary to the margins. Despite its links with the “local,” the sedentary is too often equated with stasis and rigidity, or dismissed for its purported association with homogenizing forms of nationalism. Such an approach obscures the formative role of place, location, and dwelling in the formation, self-conception, and practice of diaspora.
This seminar invites papers that consider the complexities and realities of the sedentary, of dwelling and staying put, in diaspora studies. In what ways, we ask, are notions of home, belonging, and diasporic identity bound up with locality? What is the role of metropolises like New York or London (locations in which a large population both sustains fragments of an older culture and engages in the cultural production of the new) in diasporic self-representation and the production of diaspora-sustaining cultural work? How are diasporas situated in relation to each other in a given space? And what can the literary study of place, fixity, and the immobile tell us about the communities that inhabit them? By exploring these questions, we hope to bring back locality to the study of diaspora and diasporic literature.
Please direct questions to Elizabeth Syrkin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Abstracts (max 250 words) should be submitted through the ACLA website at http://acla.org/submit/
(Please select "Dwelling in Diaspora" from the drop-down list of seminars).
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