Studies in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literature
Special focus on “Narratives of Migration in Europe”
Edited by Farid Laroussi (University of British Columbia)
European migration narratives come in many guises: political rhetoric, media stories, personal accounts, to name just a few of the obvious. They can address themes of knowledge, ideology, history, and identity. They also invoke public policies and preferences, as well as the added—albeit ambivalent—value of human rights. Across the European Union, as nations face migratory influxes, we can witness France’s postcolonial guilt, Germany’s obsession with labor, and Sweden’s selective definition of “refugee” since 2016. What about individual experiences? How does the cultural negotiation between migrant and host proceed from here? Whose “paradise lost” is it?
Ideas and autobiographical accounts travel too, and they occupy a particular space in the transnational citizenship community. They also go through a reconstruction process within new cultural settings. In his 2018 essay “The Idea of a Borderless World,” Achille Mbembe hints at a dialectics of opening and closure, not simply around national borders but most importantly around the imagination. He challenges a more idealized concept of borders as the control and distribution of land and rights, and asks if that renders a coherent story of human migration, or a fragmented neoliberal account. Subaltern narratives of women and children also subvert the totalizing statements around south-to-north migrations. As a matter of self-representation, Europe’s language around nation and security informs its anxiety around race and gender, and says that capital can travel. But the Muslim male? Not so much. The borderless world laid out in the globalized economy poses urgent questions about our contemporary postcolonial understanding.
As an example, works of fiction, notably novels and feature films, can offer new perspectives beyond the layers of historical circumstances, geopolitical challenges, and demographics. If one can pinpoint social relevance in aesthetic productions (including music, videos, and graffiti, for example), the true question revolves around a reimagined European cosmopolitanism as it is experienced or scrutinized by the migrant subject. The visa—literally, what has been seen— instantiates post-national invisibility. To come into existence once again, transformations of identity and narratives happen within the global process of migration. The visa is very much in focus throughout words, whether shared or untranslatable.
This special focus section of Studies in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literature explores and questions the diverse narratives that map twenty-first-century migrations to Europe. Ideally, contributions will aim to locate configurations comparing different perspectives and historical moments—for example, today’s experiences of the migrant in Spain, and the Spanish emigration memory from the 1930s to the 1970s. Theories abound, notably transnationalism and mobility studies, but unorthodox approaches are welcome. Is the ongoing migration process a further argument for an unfinished imperialism or modernity? How do we square global discourse (which is actually as ancient as the Roman empire) and our postmodern thinking about identity and diaspora? Does the gaze of the migrant now belong in conventional postcolonial theory, stuck in the colonizer–colonized paradigm? We invite critical views on theory itself, as it is called into question by new affiliations and links germane to the migrant’s condition.
While articles may address literature and creative artifacts in French, Spanish, or German, they must be penned in English. Their length should be between 6,000-8,000 words (including notes and references). Creative uses of the journal’s online format are encouraged. Interested authors must send a 500-word abstract along with a short bio to Dr. Farid Laroussi (Farid.Laroussi@ubc.ca) by August 10, 2020. Full-length articles will be expected by January 10, 2021.
Studies in 20th & 21st Century Literature (STTCL) is committed to publishing high quality, anonymously peer reviewed articles written in English on post-1900 literature, film, and media in French, German, and Spanish. The journal is devoted to theory and criticism in the modern languages, and encourages interdisciplinary and collaborative submissions. https://newprairiepress.org/sttcl/
Announcement posted by Dr. Kathleen Antonioli, Editor of STTCL. For further queries about the journal, you can contact her at email@example.com.
Dr. Farid Laroussi (Farid.Laroussi@ubc.ca)