Racial Violence and Historical Counter-Narratives in Cultural Constructions of Home - ASA 2016

full name / name of organization: 
Maia Gil'Adi, The George Washington University
contact email: 

ASA Convention
November 17-20, 2016
Denver, Colorado

"It's after the end of the world. Don't you know that yet?" June Tyson's voice expounds this declaration with increasing urgency over the opening credits of Space Is the Place. Shortly after, we watch Sun Ra survey the terrain of another planet as he tells us that Earth has not been home for black people. This different planet, he imagines might be more hospitable for black people without the terror of the white gaze that dominates "Planet Earth: sounds of guns, anger, frustration." As much as it is a fantastic Afrofuturist construction of utopia, Ra's proposition is also an evocative statement about the contested nature of home. What makes the imagination of a home elsewhere so alluring and gives it such political currency is the reality of the home in the here and now, as it is shaped by the past.

The past two years have seen considerable turbulent and violent conditions for people of color within the United States and the rest of the Americas: in 2013 the Dominican Republic's Constitutional Court redefined their citizenship laws and threatened mass deportations of Dominicans of Haitian descent; 2014 and 2015 was inundated by news coverage of multiple unarmed people of color killed by law enforcement through the nation without repercussion to the perpetrators; and continued problematic language such as "anchor baby" and xenophobic positions toward Middle Eastern refugees inundates our political discourse. Such conditions demonstrate the centrality of racialized populations in constructing a national identity.

We seek papers for a panel that examines the shift in representations of national histories and politics in American literature and culture. The panel will explore the tensions between competing historical archives, productions of national narratives, and the implications of embodied memory in regards to the manufacture of proprietary spaces, such as the home. We invite papers examining texts that serve as counter-narratives to the unified homeland through their insistence on its violence or intellectual terror. For example, how do writers, poets, musicians engage in world-building through their craft or public activism to imagine a different home? We seek papers that will engage several questions, including: How do writers of color recover and re-imagine excised historical narratives of violence in order to create decolonial critiques that challenge heteropatriarchal archives? How do writers of color expose and interrogate the violence enacted on the body to reframe it as a site that challenges "official" histories and archives? How do speculative fictions and historical revisions by authors of color re-imagine futurity, particularly in relation to notions of race and raciality, gendered embodiment, and alternative revolutions? The presenters will engage historical revisions that problematize narratives of national progress, immigration, and citizenship in "American" literature and culture. As such, we invite papers from a broad range of academic perspectives that inquire into the notion of "home" in relation to race and ethnicity in American literature and culture.

Submit 250-300 word abstracts, AV requirements, and brief bio to Maia Gil'Adi (mgiladi@email.gwu.edu) no later than January 20, 2016.