Diasporic Identity: Leaving and Returning in British/or in Anglophone Literature [Update 04/04/2011]
While evoking Benedict Anderson's idea of "long distance nationalism" to underscore the diasporic concept of Englishness, Robert J. C. Young, in his book The Idea of English Ethnicity (2008), defines such diasporic identity as a "translatable" identity "that could be adopted or appropriated anywhere by anyone who cultivated the right language, looks, and culture." Englishness, says Young, was created for "the diaspora"—implying not simply people from England "but rather of English descent—the peoples of the English diaspora moving around the world: Americans, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans, even, at a pinch, the English working class." Likewise, London, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, became "the heart of the world," which operated as literally as the cultural hub of the world and "symbolically as the nub of these comings and goings."
Many writers, such as Joseph Conrad, Henry James, T. S. Eliot, Katherine Mansfield, James Joyce, or even V. S. Naipal, to name only a few, who were not born in England proper but in as diverse countries as Poland, the USA, New Zealand, Ireland, and in the Carribean, masqueraded themselves as English writers, for whom leaving and returning to England was a crucial imperative for their writings. "The greatest satisfactions of London," Young aptly points out, "come from the enigma of arrival, about which [Henry] James himself wrote with zest and enthusiasm many times, and the allure of departure." So these diasporic English writers expressed their greatest satisfactions when they arrived in London, while showing their greatest allurement of departure at the same time.
That said, the South Atlantic Modern Language Association (SAMLA) graduate panels invite the papers that explore this enigma of arrival and departure, or leaving and returning of various English writers, who travelled back and forth between the center and the margins, or the papers exploring the related themes to this diasporic English identity that crosses any geographical boundaries. Please send us an abstract or a proposal of 250-300 words (in word doc or rich text format) for your proposed paper to be presented at the SAMLA conference by May 30, 2011 via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Proposals are welcome for:
Film Screenings etc.
All proposals except panel proposals should be a maximum of 300 words in length, and should include the title of the paper, author's name, email address, and author's affiliation. Panel proposals should include an abstract of 300-400 words for each proposed paper, including title, email address, and affiliation.