UPDATE: [Ethnic] Comparative Diasporas

full name / name of organization: 
Ursula Lindqvist
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Call for Papers
American Comparative Literature Association Conference
April 24-27
Long Beach, California USA

Re-Writing the Promised Land: Comparative Diasporas

In 2006, Iranian-born theater director Farnaz Arbabi rewrote Vilhelm Moberg’s diasporic novel
The Emigrants (1949) for the Swedish stage. Moberg’s original depicts the Nilsson family and
their neighbors emigrating from a town in rural Sweden in 1845, a time of famine and crop
failures in their homeland, in search of a better life in the “Promised Land” of the United States.
Arbabi’s play rewrites Moberg’s epic tale to feature Balkan emigrants who leave their homeland
in search of a better life in twenty-first century Sweden, which is now one of the world’s
wealthiest nation-states. Arbabi’s act of re-writing attends closely to the trauma modern-day
emigrants’ children experience over their irreparable separation from a “native” culture that
informs their ethnic identities in the new land, connecting diasporas of past and present and
forcing new conceptions of fluid and transcultural identities. This panel invites papers that
investigate how writers, as well as artists from the non-literary arts, and from a wide variety of
linguistic and cultural loci, re-write classical and/or “nation-building” tales of diaspora in a way
that opens up spaces for new articulations of transnational culture in the global era. This panel
also invites theoretical investigations of how to conceive of comparative diaspora(s) amid late
twentieth and early twenty-first century challenges to postcolonial studies’ critical formulation of
the center-periphery model. A few examples of such challenges include José Jorge Klor de Alva’s
1992 essay “Colonialism and Postcolonialism as (Latin) American Mirages,” Arjun Appadurai’s
essay “Disjuncture and difference in the global cultural economy” (in Theorizing Diasporas,
2003), and Brent Hayes Edwards’ reconceptualization of African Diaspora in The Practice of
Diaspora: Literature, Translation, and the Rise of Black Internationalism (2003). Finally, this panel
invites papers that investigate gendered re-writings of epic tales of diaspora to highlight female
as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered perspectives. Paper proposals may be
submitted on the conference web site at http://www.acla.org/acla2008/?page_id=5.

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Received on Wed Oct 17 2007 - 15:48:42 EDT