Comparative Culture and Queer Postcolonialisms: In Dialogue with Sara Ahmed

deadline for submissions: 
September 18, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
American Comparative Literature Association
contact email: 

When did become “feminism” become a word that not only spoke to you, but spoke you, spoke of your existence, spoke you into existence? -Living a Feminist Life (Sara Ahmed, 2017)

When interviewed by Ray Filar about her book, Living a Feminist Life (2017), scholar Sara Ahmed is asked about the word “feminism.”1 She replies the following:

“That quote from the early part of the book, for me, picks up what matters to feminism, which is partly that sound. Like, what do we hear when we hear that word? Where did we encounter that word? From whom did we hear that word? One of the projects of the book is to think about what it means to tell your feminist story by thinking about your relationship to the word itself. By word, I don’t just mean like semantics or linguistics. I mean a word as a carrier of information, a word as a memory, a word as a way of relating to the past, a past that might have laid down a path for you to follow, as a feminist, building on the work of so many others that came before. And so, when I ask myself this question, “what do I hear when I hear the word ‘feminism,’ I partly think about how I arrived to feminism, and when I think about that word, I actually think about my auntie...and she used that word, and she gave that word to me...[feminism] might be a set of values around equality, justice, but it is also about trying to live our lives in a different way, sometimes outside the norms and the conventions that provide safety and security.”

By drawing on this notion of feminism as radical praxis, Ahmed’s invites us to consider work that thinks broadly about the courage of difference. Using Ahmed’s scholarship widely – but engaging the idea of radical praxis – the organizers of this seminar seek panelists whose research considers difference and its iterative power. We invite papers on any comparative analysis of cultural products (television, film, art, literature, poetry, memoir, etc.), in dialogue with the thought of feminist scholar Sara Ahmed. As we are increasingly flanked by global efforts that erase or are threatened by difference, this panel takes seriously Ahmed’s call tofeminist living.

Interested panelists should submit a 300-word paper proposal and 200-word speaker bio via the ACLA submission portal by September 18th to:
§ Jocelyn Frelier, Assistant Professor | Sam Houston State University (frelier@shsu.edu)§ Catalina Esguerra, Ph.D. Candidate | University of Michigan (cxesgu@umich.edu)

1 Filar, Ray. “Living a Feminist Life: An Interview with Sara Ahmed.” Novara Media. 24 May 2017.