ACLA 2019: "New Comparative Work on the Eurasian and African Diasporas"

deadline for submissions: 
September 20, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
American Comparative Literature Association
contact email: 

This seminar convenes scholars working at the intersection of Black diaspora studies and Slavic studies broadly construed—including the Russian Empire and former Soviet Union, Central and Southeast Europe, and Central Asia. Earlier scholarship in Afro-Russian and/or Afro-Eurasian studies has emphasized crucial connections between these two fields, including: the parallel histories of bondage and emancipation in the United States and Russian Empire; the representation of “folk” culture in Russian and African American literatures; Black artists’ and writers’ sojourns in the Soviet Union; and the influence of Russian thought and literature on African diasporic writers in the twentieth century. Our seminar highlights new research building upon this work, stretching the chronological span of Afro-Eurasian literary, cultural, and political engagements and cross-currents from the long eighteenth century to the postwar period, and widening the field to comprise wider geographies in addition to non-literary media.

We welcome paper proposals related to any aspect of African-Eurasian literature and culture, including:

  • The reception of Pushkin’s interracialism in Eurasian or African diasporic literature and public culture—including the history and representation of Abram Petrovich Gannibal or Pushkin’s unfinished works
  • Afro-Asian literary and cultural production, political solitary, and institution building—including the Afro-Asian Writers’ Conference (1958), the Festival of African and Asian Cinema (1968) in Tashkent, Soviet Central Asia in the Black political imaginary, and representations of Blackness in the work of Central Asian writers and artists
  • The history and culture of the Caucasus and the region’s relation to “whiteness” as a racial category and ideology
  • Testimonial writing by former slaves and serfs, including the translation, publication, and reception of American slave narratives in Russia
  • Travelogues of early Black Atlantic writers in the Russian Empire or African travelogues and ethnographies by Russian authors
  • The activities of Russian abolitionist circles in the aftermath of the Haitian Revolution
  • African radical intellectuals’ engagement with Soviet politics
  • Notes from underground—Dostoevsky, his influence on Black writers from Richard Wright to Ralph Ellison, and re-uptake by contemporary writers like Hamid Ismailov
  • Connections between Eurasia and the Caribbean—the history and cultural legacy of Haiti’s Polish community, representations of the Caribbean in Eurasian literature and visual culture, or the impact of Russian literature on Caribbean writers
  • Connections between film of the African diasporia and Eastern bloc
  • Second-Third World internationalism across the Global South
  • Afro-Eurasian engagements in the visual and performing arts—film, dance (especially ballet), music, and drama

Paper proposals must be submitted through the ACLA online portal (https://www.acla.org/node/add/paper) by Thursday, September 20 at 9:00am EST. Please contact seminar organizers Nicholas Rinehart (rinehart@g.harvard.edu) and Jennifer Wilson (wilson.4053@osu.edu) if you would like to submit an abstract.