New Writings from the Indian Diaspora: Recalibrating the Canon in an "Uneven World" (for MELUS conference, April 7-10, 2011)

full name / name of organization: 
Dr. Kerstin Schmidt, Department of English and American Studies, University of Munich (Germany)
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In his theoretical meditation on the postcolonial and the global, the literary critic R. Radhakrishnan has recently put forth the idea of a "global unevenness" that, as he argues, cuts across the binary logics of home and abroad, of belonging and diasporic migrations. Radhakrishnan's model is one of a few new -- and fruitful -- approaches to the issue of globalization, ethnicity, and diasporic writing that let us rethink the relationship between the scattered trajectories of global structures and local positionings, emphasizing the idea of "connection" (Radhakrishnan) or "relation" (É. Glissant) instead of rupture and break. This panel will draw together papers that discuss the new and rich literary production of the South Asian diaspora in North America in light of more recent theoretical conceptualizations of globalization and diaspora. Writers such as Meena Alexander, Jhumpa Lahiri, Amitav Ghosh, M.G. Vassanji, and numerous others have ushered in a new diasporic literature that is in need of theoretical reconceptualization as it challenges older models of canonization based on political borders or ethnic affiliations and the concomitant diasporic reconstruction of the (symbolic) place called home. New writings from the Indian diaspora, by contrast, reflect changed contemporary migration patterns and embody networks of travel that go beyond older concepts of ethnic and diasporic writing and that can hence be understood rather in terms of connection and relation. This panel will consider the place of contemporary South Asian writing within the canon of ethnic literature in America, its significance for concepts of ethnicity and diaspora, and any new perspectives that might cast new critical light on the idea of canonization in global contexts.

Please send an abstract of about 200 words a.s.a.p. to the panel organizer: