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Diasporic Identities and Empire
Unlike traditional theories on hybridity that consider multicultural infusions, and at times profusions of colonial migrations, postmodern literature illuminates neo-hermeneutics of what Gayatri Spivak calls segregated subalterns, “the lowest strata of the urban subproletariat.” This panel is interested in investigating these ideas in nineteenth- and twentieth-century British, American, Eurocentric, and Asian literature and thought. The post-Enlightenment text is an unpalatable interjection written by a set of cultural shifters who defy imperial homogeneity, political and economic unions. In Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Theory, Culture and Race, Robert J. C. Young looks at such representations as the unconscious imperial structure which sets its descriptions on a “fixed centre.” Papers examining authors who not only attempt to write back to the “English” centre but also reflect through their narratives the plight of the diasporic are particularly welcome. While cultural hybridity has become a signature of the postmodern psyche, there is much literature which foregrounds the realities of the diaspora. In the past, the yearning to find meaning and value within patriotism allowed countries to remain independent, but centuries of tensions have seen them politically weakened. Such a state of affairs is a far cry from Benedict Anderson’s assurance that “the end of the era of nationalism, so long prophesied, is not remotely in sight. Indeed, nation-ness is the most universally legitimate value in the political life of our time.” Papers may examine the uncertainty and cultural anxiety dominating the postmodern horizon. Arguments about Anderson’s “nation-ness” inclusive of problems in defining Englishness and the insinuations of hybridity for the marginalized will also be considered. By June 1, 2012, please send 300-word abstracts to Anastasia Louridas, Sydney University, at alou4781@ uni.sydney.edu.au. Graduate students and early career scholars most welcome.