Categories such as national identity, migration, exile, war, colonialism, post-colonialism, slavery, race, and gender define the diasporic experience of “émigrés and refugees” (Homi Bhabha). Loosely understood as a dispersion or scattering (people in exile with an existing homeland and those displaced absent a politically recognized sovereign state), the diaspora constitutes “that segment of a people living outside the homeland” (Connor) “far away from their ancestral or former homeland” (Baumann), but possessing “a collective memory and myth about the sentimental and/or material links to that homeland” (Patterson). This group includes expatriate minority communities existing uneasily and nostalgically on the margins of their host country.
The diaspora becomes an important cultural phenomenon in the formation of national identities and opposing attempts to transcend the idea of nationhood itself on its way to developing new forms of transnationalism, “citizens who, though migrating from poor to rich countries, manage to construct and nurture social fields that intimately link their respective homelands and new diasporic locations” (Patterson). Bill Ashcroft views the transnation not just in terms of the diaspora, but also as one that exists “outside of the state that begins within the nation—the potential for all subjects to live beyond the metaphoric boundaries of the nation state.” As such, “Diasporic subjects are . . . distinct versions of modern, transnational, intercultural experience” (Clifford). The diasporic experience/consciousness of being at home abroad (Sheffer), here there, plays a role in the tensions between nation and transnation in different cultural and socio-political contexts.
Transculturality, then, concerns fluid identities and diverse cultural encounters, which reveal networks of influence and transmission. Particularly significant is the way space is perceived, negotiated, and constructed by the diasporic subject in its dynamic formation of acceptance and resistance. The identity and sense of space developed by these diasporic subjects in their “strategic positioning” (Hall) is complicated by their ambiguous relations to the mainstream culture and the literary legacy of their “host” countries, which often view them as “potentially menacing and therefore undesirable” (Sheffer). This collection of essays on the literature or national allegories (Jameson) of the diaspora and the transnational plans to explore the sundry and geographically expansive ways Anglophone literatures by colonized subjects and emigrants negotiate diasporic spaces to create what Benedict Anderson sees as “imagined communities,” or what Homi Bhabha calls "home, a place uncannily oscillating between estrangement and engagement.
Themes could include but are not limited to:
- restlessness and tensions
- resistance to total immersion
- nostalgia, sentimentality, and homesickness
- national schizophrenia
- divided loyalties
- intellectual capital
- and geographical interstices—living uncomfortably in that space between two worlds, one perhaps dead and the other struggling to be born.
Special attention will be paid to the complex ways identity is negotiated by immigrants to Anglophone countries writing in English about their home abroad experience. Also important are the variety of ways the malleability of English (Calibanizing Prospero’s English as a form of resistance) becomes part of a lingua franca that fosters transnationality.
Papers will explore the lived experiences of emigrants of the diaspora within this specific linguistic and cultural area, and the extent to which these new and evolving spaces (physical, ontological, and metaphorical) represented in literature are rife with tensions concerning identify, language, and belongingness in the struggle for home.
Please submit a one-page proposal along with a brief bio no later than 1 March 2020. The proposal must reflect work at or near completion given the brief turn-around time between acceptance of proposal and delivery of chapter (about six months), then the peer-review process. We anticipate a 2021 publication date. The volume will be published by Vernon Press. For more on the press, its authors, and its publications, please see their website: www.vernonpress.com. Copies of proposal and bio must be emailed as attachments to the editors, Jude V. Nixon (Jnixon@salemstate.edu) and Mariaconcetta Costantini (firstname.lastname@example.org).