Postcolonial, Diaspora, and American Studies: The Terms of Engagement--ACLA 2015 (26-29 March)

full name / name of organization: 
Surbhi Malik & Smita Das/ Creighton University & University of Illinois at Chicago

ACLA Seminar: Postcolonial, Diaspora, and American Studies: The Terms of Engagement

Please submit your abstract by Oct. 14th

In an interdisciplinary setting, any conversation and dialogue between various fields and sub-fields is lauded as an end in itself, whereas the terms and conditions of this dialogue remain unexplored. While the intersections between the fields of diaspora, postcolonial, and American Studies are routinely invoked in comparative methodologies, the complexities and contradictions of these intersections are seldom charted. It is well- established in scholarship that the dialogues between these fields act as correctives to each other and fill essential gaps. This seminar is, however, interested in how the engagement between postcolonial, diaspora, and American Studies also relies on the perpetuation and obfuscation of relatively conservative agendas. How do the unevenly aligned fields of postcolonial, diaspora, and American Studies draw on each other to legitimize claims of nationalism and U.S. exceptionalism? Why do the intersections between these fields depend on foregrounding analyses of race and nation and allow only limited questioning of class privilege and hierarchies of gender and sexuality? We are interested in papers, for instance, that consider how American Studies draws on the strain of identity politics from postcolonial studies to enshrine multiculturalism as a distinguishing feature of American nationalism or how conceptualizations of diaspora as an exceptional state are used to buttress claims of American exceptionalism. Paper topics can address authors whose work straddles the lines between postcolonial, diaspora, and American Studies, including but not limited to C.L.R James, Claude McKay, Zadie Smith, Salman Rushdie, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Kiran Desai.