Roundtable: Cultural-ethnic Identities and Social Equality in African Diasporic Literature, NEMLA, April 3-6,2014

full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
contact email: 
Ines.Shaw@ncc.edu

45th Annual Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
When: April 3-6, 2014
Where: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Host: Susquehanna University

Roundtable: Cultural-ethnic Identities and Social Equality in African Diasporic Literature
Summary: This roundtable will examine 1) how Afro-descendant characters construct and negotiate social, ethnic identities in the fictional literature from the African diaspora in Europe,the Caribbean, Latin America, and/or North America; 2) how inter-ethnic relations are played out in the context of social equality in this type of literature; 3) whether or how the postmodern genre works for the development of the complex diaspora identities of Afro-descendant characters.

Description: “Cultural-ethnic identities and social equality in the fictional literature from the African diaspora in Latin America, North America, Europe, and the Caribbean”

There are many examples literary works in which African-descendant characters negotiate differently their cultural identities in interactions with members of their own and other ethnicities: U.S.-born Toni Morrison’s *Beloved*, Caribbean Maryse Condé’s *Windward Heights*, Brazilian Jose Endoença Martins’s *The Eye of the Color*, and British Benjamin Zephaniah’s *Gangsta Rap*. An explanation for these differences can be drawn from W.E.B. Dubois’ concept of double consciousness, which triggers a tension that may be lived negatively and in irreconcilable ways. Alternatively, Stuart Hall explains that ‘in late modernity, [identities are] increasingly fragmented and fractured: never singular, but multiply constructed across different, often intersecting and antagonistic, discourses, practices, and positions’; moreover, ‘diaspora identities . . . are constantly producing and reproducing anew, through transformation and difference’; it ‘lives with and through, not despite, difference; by hybridity’. Social and economic hierarchies complicate Afro-descendants’ negotiation of social identities as they are not always on equal footing with those who are positioned higher in this hierarchy.
The aims of this Roundtable are to examine and discuss 1) how Afro-descendant characters outside Africa construct and negotiate social, ethnic identities in fictional works; 2) how their inter-ethnic relations are played out in the context of social equality; and 3) whether or how the postmodern genre works for the development of the complex diaspora identities of Afro-descendant characters. This Roundtable is significant in that the various de-centerings that have led to the re-conceptualization of identities combine with writers’ experimentation with aesthetic differences and styles to produce literary works that treat social identity and equality in much more complex ways than earlier works.

Please send 300-400 word abstracts and a short bio to Ines.Shaw@ncc.edu.

Please also include with your abstract:
Name and Affiliation
Email address
Postal address
Telephone number
A/V requirements (if any; $10 handling fee with registration)

Areas: Comparative Languages & Theory and Spanish/Portuguese

Deadline: September 30, 2013

Interested participants may submit abstracts to more than one NeMLA session; however, panelists can only present one paper (panel or seminar). Convention participants may present a paper at a panel and also present at a creative session or participate in a roundtable.

The 2014 NeMLA convention continues the Association's tradition of sharing innovative scholarship in an engaging and generative location. This capitol city set on the Susquehanna River is known for its vibrant restaurant scene, historical sites, the National Civil War museum, and nearby Amish Country, antique shops and Hershey Park. NeMLA has arranged low hotel rates of $104-$124.

The 2014 event will include guest speakers, literary readings, professional events, and workshops. A reading by George Saunders will open the Convention. His 2013 collection of short fiction, The Tenth of December, has been acclaimed by the New York Times as “the best book you’ll read this year.” The Keynote speaker will be David Staller of Project Shaw.

For more information about the 2014 Convention, go to http://nemla.org/convention/2014/

For more information about NeMLA, go to http://nemla.org/

cfp categories: 
african-american
american
cultural_studies_and_historical_approaches
ethnicity_and_national_identity
interdisciplinary
theory