NeMLA 2015 Roundtable: What’s Law Got to Do With It?: Diasporic Literature Post-9/11

full name / name of organization: 
Justine Dymond/Northeast Modern Language Association
contact email: 
jdymond@springfieldcollege.edu

In her 2010 collection of essays, _Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work_, the Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat writes, “There are many possible interpretations of what it means to create dangerously, and Albert Camus, like the poet Osip Mandelstam, suggests that it is creating as a revolt against silence, creating when both the creation and the reception, the writing and the reading, are dangerous undertakings, disobedience to a directive” (11). This session focuses on the literature of diaspora communities that disobeys legal directives and constructions of personhood, citizenship and immigrant status in the post-9/11 era.

Earlier writers, such as novelists John Okada and Joy Kogawa, challenged the contradictory and dehumanizing laws that excluded and imprisoned those of Japanese ancestry during WWII. Building on the well-attended roundtables “Mothers Beyond Borders: Immigrant Mothers in Literature” and “Post-9/11 Immigration and Literature” that I organized for NeMLA 2014 and 2013 respectively, this new session aims to address what Lisa Lowe calls the “immigrant acts” of contemporary diasporic writers who portray and represent migrant experiences in an era of heightened surveillance and criminalization of the transnational subject.

Some possible questions that participants might address are: How do literatures of immigrant experience respond to and transform cultural, legal and historical constructions of citizenship? How are notions of home, homeland, and national identity shaped by “immigrant ambivalence”? How do authors incorporate legal documents—-legislation, executive orders, birth certificates, Homeland Security documents, etc.—-into narrative or poetry? How do digital technologies shape the legal status of transnational subjects? Proposals might focus on Canadian and U.S. writers as diverse as Aimee Phan, Junot Diaz, Edwidge Danticat, Dinaw Mengestu, Teju Cole, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, among others.

Please submit a brief bio and 300-500 word proposal by September 30, 2014 through the NeMLA submission website: https://nemla.org/convention/2015/cfp.html#cfp15280

cfp categories: 
american
cultural_studies_and_historical_approaches
ethnicity_and_national_identity
gender_studies_and_sexuality
interdisciplinary
twentieth_century_and_beyond