CFP: Portal: Exile and Social Transformation (7/31/04; journal issue)

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Call for papers for PORTAL Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies
Vol. 2, No. 1, Jan 2005. Special issue on Exile and Social Transformation.

This special issue of PORTAL Journal of Multidisciplinary International
Studies focuses on the nexus between exilic conditions and social transformation in
the contemporary, late capitalist world, a fractured, multifarious space now
regarded by U.S. state power as a vast but always already subjectable sphere
of influence. In this embattled context, it seems fitting that contemporary
discussions on exile take place in the late Edward Said's shadow, not only
opening with but also deviating from and questioning his reading of exile made from
one particular historical perspective, that of a displaced Palestinian
intellectual. If, as Said posits, exile is "a condition legislated to deny dignity-to
deny identity to people," or more correctly in his case, to "a" people, when
does a people become exiled? More fundamentally, for whom is a people "a"
people, and when is this status achieved? Might Said's notion of exile, which
presumes collective identificatory commonality and indissolubility, be premised on
an essentializing, exclusionary and ultimately fictive claim to a home, a
land, a bounded, finite territory?

These questions, in turn, generate others. What exactly is the time and place
of exile? Who claims that condition, when and why? Is exile possible within a
homeland, or within a geopolitical state? To what extent does the state
(over)determine exile conditions? Do external and internal exiles share similar
patterns of estrangement and against-the-odds possibility? How do gendered,
sexualized, racialized and classed hierarchies impact on the exilic body? What
happens to the imagined national community if a significant portion of the
national population resides elsewhere? What resistances are possible for exile
communities split and splintered in more than one geopolity? To what extent can
exile engender and invigorate active resistance? What tactics are available in
exile to counter the forces that gave rise to displacement in the first place?
Does exile status inevitably generate the nostalgic romanticization, if not
fantasy recreation, of an age before exile? Why is exile so often presented as a
site of memorialization? How do we theorize exilic memory? What happens to the
exile, and to activism done beyond the homeland, when return is permitted?
Conversely, what happens to the activist-in-exile impulse when there is no
prospect of a return, or no homeland (geopolity) left to accept the returnees? How
do we regard the exile community that gradually transmutes into one mere
migrant community among many, comprising generations whose claims to place and
selfhood may reflect the host society's identity discourses and not those of a
former homeland they may have never seen? And finally, turning from the lived
experience to the exile trope, if exile has functioned as a master narrative of
western culture since the advent of modernity as Said claims, what
epistemological leverage, if any, is enabled by the use of exile as a governing metaphor
for the (post)modern psyche? Does this metaphor hold outside the West, and
outside the pages written by the exiled intellectual? Has exile lost semantic,
locational and historical specificity and use value by becoming simply one of many
synonyms for displacement and estrangement under late capitalism?

These are some of the motivating questions behind this special issue of
PORTAL. We particularly welcome papers that seek to problematize the notion of
exile when understood as a physical and identificatory space for social activism
and transformation. We also encourage contributors to reflect on such issues as
language use(s), and the tensions between geographical and metaphorical
understandings of exile, and between exile and such related terms as exodus,
asylum, migration, and diaspora. Finally, we would like to consider artistic,
literary and multimedia responses to exile or to the questions posed above.

Please consult the PORTAL website <> for submission procedures and author guidelines.
Date for completed submissions: July 31, 2004.

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Received on Fri Mar 12 2004 - 01:16:49 EST