CFP: Historical Catharsis and Family Genealogy in African and African Diaspora Literature (6/30/06; anthology)

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Book project:
Historical Catharsis and Family Genealogy in African and African Diaspora Literature.


The desire for a cathartic escape from a repressive past into an autonomous and democratic future has been the cornerstone of most political agendas informing African and African Diaspora liberation struggles, from the peaceful to the more violent ones. The paradigm of overcoming the socioeconomic and psychological wounds generated by the experience of colonialism and/or state violence so as to reconnect with a pre-colonial past or to altogether emerge as a self-directed free subject, has been challenged by literary engagements with the traumatic histories. Often these literary texts center on uncovering obscure family genealogies. In doing so, they cast doubt on the individual or cultural ability to purge the influences of past violence from present historical consciousness. Moreover, they question the ethics of such purging by evoking an awareness of the violent repercussions of previous attempts to produce historical "clean slates."

This collection invites paper proposals that focus on the evocation of family genealogies in African and African Diaspora Literature. Sub-themes may include but are not limited to

1. family genealogies and upward mobility
2. gender dynamics and family units
3. family and national construction/re-construction
4. colonial/postcolonial families
5. liberation and "new" families
6. familial interiorities (private worlds)
7. family silences/fragmentations
8. family traumas and family ghosts
9. family values as contested values
10. family and the stigma of miscegenation
11. Pan-African families
12. family and health/environmental crises
13. exile/migration and the family
14. family re-collections
15. fictional genealogies and contingent histories

Please note that preference will be given to paper proposals that address the engagement of African and African Diaspora literature with genealogical investigation. The goal is to explore how family genealogies challenge normative conceptions of "the past" on which narratives of catharsis depend, and thus also question the notion that one can free oneself of it by means of a "cathartic" experience.

Please forward your questions and/or one-page paper proposals along with a brief CV to Yianna Liatsos by June 30th 2006. Please indicate the title, name and affiliation of the author. You will be notified by the end of July if your proposal has been selected for the collection. Completed papers, not to exceed forty pages, will be due June 30th, 2007. Independent scholars in the field of African and African Diaspora Literature will referee the essays.


Yianna Liatsos
Assistant Professor
Department of English
University of Oklahoma
760 Van Vleet Oval, 305A
Norman, OK 73019-2021

T: 405/325-7843
F: 405/325-0831

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Received on Mon May 01 2006 - 08:48:58 EDT