The Postcolonial Subject in Transit: Migration, Borders and Subjectivity in African Diaspora Literature ( May 18,2015)

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Delphine Fongang
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The research focus in this edited book collection is to examine the transitional subjectivities of postcolonial African diaspora subjects evident in emergent African diaspora literatures constructed in various metropolises of the West. The diaspora becomes the material condition that produces particular literary creations as writers across different cultural locations address the concept of "belonging or not belonging" in metropolitan spaces. African diasporic subjects never fully belong anywhere as they constantly struggle to assert their subjectivities in spaces that marginalize them. Writers capture the complex ways in which subjects rooted from their homelands must search for place and space in disputed borders and locations in the metropolis. Such travel across different geographical, social, national, cultural, class, racial, and language boundaries reveal how diasporic African subjects must navigate disputed spaces in order to reconstruct their subjectivities in fluid and multiple terms as a raced population in a transitional and global environment. Migrant subjects constantly struggle to negotiate the diaspora in search for agency and a sense of belonging in new communities and be part of a new global order—a desire evident in contemporary African diasporic literatures.
It becomes evident that the central focus in contemporary African diasporic literature is shifting from the often disillusioned representation of the African continent resulting from colonialism and neocolonialism to a focus on African subjects in global spaces of the West. This development shows that African diaspora texts cannot solely be read as emerging from specific national, cultural, or geographic origin, but as fluid texts that capture global issues of migration, citizenship and identity in geographically varied spaces in a postmodern environment. Obviously, one might question: How do the concepts of displacement and the construction of identity in far off lands shape the artistic, cultural and literary productions of peoples of African descent within and beyond the continent? How does the West shape self-representation and identity construction in a highly racialized society, where systems of structural inequalities based on gendered racial hierarchies (as it relates to citizenship, world structures, neocolonial agendas, the devaluing of some cultures and the misappropriation of others, limited access to goods and services, the postmodern subject/ object dichotomy, imperialism etc.) continue to negatively affect peoples from subordinated groups like Africans? How does diasporic identity shift in relation to socio-cultural circumstances? What aspects of the African homeland do writers retain in their literary creations? How do they maintain the dialectic between the diaspora and the homeland? How do writers construct structural hierarchies as it relates to identity categories (such as race, class, gender, ethnicity, language, nationality, and age, among others) that shape African diasporic subjectivities? These issues will be examined in postcolonial African diasporic writings; showing how writers capture the plight of migrant subjects in contested spaces of the West. This book will allude to the writings of postcolonial African diaspora writers including, but not limited to, the works of Teju Cole, Buchi Emecheta, Brian Chikwaval, Fadumo Korn, Michelle Cliff, Zadie Smith, Isidore Okpewho and Chimamanda Adichie.

Range of possible topics include: Globalization, Migration and Border Crisscrossing; Belonging or not Belonging in the Diaspora; Displacement and Relocation; Transatlantic Identity; Fragmented and Fluid Identities; New Perspectives in literature of the African Diaspora; Globalization, Travel and the Diaspora; Immigration and Citizenship; Postcolonial Subjects in Transit; Multiplicity and Hybrid Identities; Relocation in the Diaspora: Conflicting Representations of Otherness; Liminal Spaces and Hybrid Identities; Women Writing the African Diaspora; Reconnecting with the Homeland; Cosmopolitanism and Inclusiveness; and Liminal Spaces in the Diaspora.

Timeline for Project Completion: Prospective contributors should send their 250-500 word abstract, along with a 100 word biography by Monday, May 18, 2015 and expect notification of selection by Monday, June 29, 2015. Final papers will be due on Monday, December 14, 2015 and will be subject to peer review. The editor encourages potential contributors to establish early contact via email to fongangd@uww.edu (Fongang Delphine).