CFP: [Postcolonial] Cultural Grammars

full name / name of organization: 
Christine Kim
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Call for Papers:

Cultural Grammars of Nation, Diaspora and Indigeneity in Canada

Edited by Melina Baum Singer, Christine Kim, and Sophie McCall

Over the past couple of decades, the terms of critical debate that have animated Canadian
cultural and literary studiesâ€"such as race, nation, difference, cultureâ€"have shifted in significant
ways. The death of the nation, so often prophesied, with varying degrees of optimism, fear and
ambivalence, continues to shape the language of Canadian cultural and literary studies. In this
collection we propose to analyse the larger conceptual shifts that have occurred in response to
national and post-national arguments. Discourses of postcoloniality have been supplemented,
and in many cases, even largely replaced by the paradigms of diaspora, indigeneity,
globalization, and transnationalism, perhaps suggesting that the broader project of
decolonization requires multiple kinds of tools and strategies. At the same time, each of these
theoretical frameworks has also undergone a series of transformations that bear investigating.
Diaspora studies, for example, has moved away from its initial affiliation with Jews and Jewish
experiences and has largely become synonymous with critical race theory. First Nations studies
has long had a troubled relationship with postcolonial studies, since many practices and policies
of colonization are ongoing. Diasporic and indigenous scholarship is often critical of Canadian
national discourses and the practices of the state, yet both critical streams maintain certain
investments in the language of nations. For instance, the discourses of sovereignty and nation-
to-nation relations have become key words for Aboriginal writing, while critical race politics in
the 1980s was deeply invested in creating a place for minorities within the nation. Meanwhile,
hybridity as a critical approach, mobilized to address an increasingly broad set of questions
relating to cultural race politics, is often associated with transnationalism and the emergence of
globalization studies. The goal of this collection is to take stock of ongoing conversations about
the cultural politics of contemporary Canadian literature and to consider the cultural grammar
for speaking about race and ethnicity in the current moment.

We are particularly interested in submissions that explore the following questions:

How do we understand the ongoing production of diasporas in the current moment given the
displacing work of social, economic, and political forces that often take the form of social
policies, poverty, and responses to natural disaster? At the same time that racialized groups
seem particularly vulnerable to uprooting forces in the current moment, this is also a period in
which the creative and critical work of diasporas appears to be flourishing. How do we
understand the relationship between these aspects of diaspora? Are they as contradictory as they
initially appear?

How do First Nations issues such as land claims and redress for residential schools speak to
diasporic ethics and politics? How might we think about indigenous and/or diasporic relations to
issues of displacement? To what extent does the turn to sovereignty, which continues to play an
important role in developing a language of decolonization in First Nations studies, risk eliding
urban, mixed-blood, deterritorialized indigenous subjectivities? What other conversations
between First Nations and diasporas are ongoing or have been held in the past?

What might the future of a critical multiculturalism hold, especially given pressing questions of
sovereignty, state, and nation? What are the implications for discourses of multiculturalism in the
face of a recent proliferation of media commentary that taps into fears of ‘home-grown
terrorists’ on the one hand, and celebrates hybridity on the other? What does the turn to cultural
hybridity enable and what does it obscure? How do discourses of hybridity articulate with
discourses of nation, transnationalism and globalization? And more broadly, how do we
understand this tension between the legal and cultural discourses of identity?

Often, ‘postcolonial’ writing is reduced to matters of content and ‘issues’ and questions of form
and style overlooked. Yet this shift from postcolonial to newer or different paradigms
underscores the significance of ‘how’ these conversations unfold. How might we then
foreground questions of the aesthetics of ‘minority’ writing in Canada?

The editors have a formal offer to publish this collection as part of the TransCanada series
through Wilfrid Laurier University Press. We welcome submissions about 4000-6000 words in
length to be submitted by August 30, 2008. Requests for information can be sent to Melina
Baum Singer at, Christine Kim at or Sophie McCall at

We require an electronic version of your paper as well as 3 hard copies. Please email submissions
to any of the editors and mail hard copies to either Christine Kim or Sophie McCall at:

Department of English

Simon Fraser University

8888 University Drive

Burnaby, British Columbia

V5A 1S6

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Received on Fri Apr 11 2008 - 16:33:09 EDT