Bodies, Borders, and Boundaries: Embodiments of Multicultural and Transnational Children

deadline for submissions: 
March 1, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
MLA 2020

CHILDREN’S LITERATURE ASSOCIATION SPONSORED SESSION, MLA 2020  

 

“Bodies, Borders, and Boundaries: Embodiments of Multicultural and Transnational Children”

           

 January 9-12 at Seattle, Washington

 

Scholars such as Emer O’Sullivan and Adrian Bailey have written about the need to look past the universal model of childhood, and to consider children as being part of a complex, intercultural and globalized world. O’Sullivan denies the existence of the “universal republic of childhood” by noting that “the concept of the universal child is a Romantic abstraction which ignores the real conditions of children’s communications across borders” (18). Indeed, the cultural constructions of children are diverse, and perceptions of childhood are further complicated in the globalized world. Michael Hames-García’s term, “multiplicity,” is one way of explaining the embodiment of the transnational and/or multicultural child. “Multiplicity,” according to Hames- García, is “the mutual constitution and overlapping of simultaneously experienced and politically significant categories such as ability, citizenship, class, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, and sexuality”; “[r]ather than existing as essentially separate axes that sometimes intersect, social identities blend, constantly and differently, expanding one another and mutually constituting one another’s meanings” (13). The body of the transnational, multicultural child is also one that occupies several matrices at once. This raises a significant question about one’s seemingly inherent composition: what makes one Nigerian, or Mexican, or Indian? Is it one’s citizenship status? Language? Race? Ancestry? Or is it a combination of these? Further, how are intangible aspects of one’s identity embodied and enacted? And how do they affect a body’s navigation through geographical and/or cultural borders? This panel examines how intersecting identities affect children who navigate our hyper-globalized world.

 

It is especially important to inquire into the relationship between the body of the child and the boundaries they straddle. With events such as the child refugee crisis in Syria, the recruitment of child soldiers in Uganda, and the state-approved incarceration of children on our very borders, there is an urgent need to examine the representation of the embodiment of transnational, multicultural children in literature and media. Borrowing from the work of Kevin Dunn who draws attention to the fact that “[m]igration research has always been about bodies,” and to the idea of “embodied transnationalism,” we seek papers that examine how the body of the child/adolescent negotiates borders and boundaries (1). Keeping in mind that cultural identities are not always social constructions, we invite scholarship that considers the heterogeneity and plurality of the body with particular regard to children’s and young adult literature. Relevant topics include but are not restricted to the following:  

 

  • Visible and invisible borders and boundaries
  • Translingual and transnational borders and boundaries
  • Migration and migrant literature
  • Multicultural and multiracial bodies
  • Geographical and political spaces
  • Socio cultural, historical, and (inter)religious spaces
  • Coloniality, postcoloniality, and tribal sovereignty
  • Materiality of the maternal body
  • Sexual and queer citizenship, and transcending gender binaries
  • Anthropomorphic and monstrous bodies
  • Resistance, empowerment, subjugation, and authority of adult, adolescent, and child bodies
  • Disability and the boundaries of differently-abled bodies
  • Cyborg bodies, posthumanism, and ecocriticism
  • Intersectional scholarship and interdisciplinary studies
  • Social media activism and digital boundaries
  • Political commentary and activism
  • Child soldiers, the war on terror, and perspectives on violence
  • Trauma studies and narratives of witnessing
  • Water (as a fluid/liminal space)
  • Magical, fantastic, carnivalesque, and other liminal spaces
  • Metatextual, postmodern and peritextual spaces
  • Breaking boundaries through poetry
  • Visible and invisible borders and boundaries in picture books, comics, graphic narratives, and films.

 

Please email your paper proposals to Tharini Viswanath and Nithya Sivashankar at bordersandboundariesmla2020@gmail.com by March 1, 2019 (11.59 p.m. EST). Your Word/PDF documents should include the following:

 

  1. Author(s’) name(s) and affiliation(s)
  2. E-mail address for correspondence
  3. Proposal (450-500 words)
  4. Author(s’) bio(s) (of up to 100 words)