CFP: Afterlives: Narratives of Rebirth, Renewal and Survival. (ACLA 2011. Vancouver, B.C., March 31-April 3)

full name / name of organization: 
Asma Al-Naser, University of Pennsylvania
contact email:

Afterlives: Narratives of Rebirth, Renewal and Survival

Deadline for submission: November 12, 2010

In To Jerusalem and Back, Saul bellow writes that “nation-states have seldom if ever been created without violence and injustice.” He is, of course, referring to the price that was paid for the creation of the Jewish state, and paid, mainly, by the Palestinian population. Several decades later, and from a very different political vantage point, Edward Said asks in “Reflections on Exile”: “What is there worth saving and holding on to between the extremes of exile on the one hand, and the often bloody-minded affirmations of nationalisms on the other?” The question, for Said, is how to emerge out of historical loss without slipping into the dangerous rigidity of an exclusive nationalism. This is not to take for granted that all facets of nationalism are necessarily egregious. What both authors seem to be pointing out—albeit for different reasons—is the very easy slippage between national survival and the exclusion, and often sacrifice, of a nation’s others and outsiders.

In this seminar, we will be considering the different ways that literary, cultural and political narratives imagine a kind of “life after death”: imagine different models of social, racial, communal and national emergences from their most central catastrophic losses. And because the most powerful narratives often offer us a new kind of life, this seminar will also explore the tensions between, and codependence of, concepts of historical death and rebirth, exile and national renewal, and consider alternative models of communal survival.

Papers on the U.S., Zionism and Palestine are encouraged.

Please see the ACLA conference website for details on how to submit paper proposals for participation in a seminar:

cfp categories: