MLA 2017 Unhomely Narratives: Migration and Displacement in Black Diaspora Literature

full name / name of organization: 
Debarati Biswas/English, The Graduate Center CUNY; Christopher Ian Foster/Department of English James Madison University

MLA 2017
Unhomely Narratives: Migration and Displacement in Black Diaspora Literature
Calls for Papers Submission
Panel Organizers: Debarati Biswas and Christopher Ian Foster
Submission 250-word abstracts/ 1-2 page CV
Deadline for submissions: March 15, 2016
Contact person information: Debarati Biswas ( and Christopher Ian Foster (
Although the twenty-first century has rightly been characterized as the century of migration, what is less clear is how we should think about the international and local policing of movement. We argue that global migration should be discussed in terms of dispossession and displacement, and with particular attention paid to disenfranchised groups within and across nation-states. Globalization has prioritized a particular kind of cosmopolitanism characterized by the movement of the elite and capital. However, the majority of those who move in the world are poor, working class, refugees, economic migrants, students, and so on. This panel addresses displaced groups of people attempting to cross international borders as well as people migrating within the bounds of nation, city, and regional spaces, whether in search of jobs, a better future, or for survival. Highlighting this connection between national and international geopolitics and migration policies, Jenna M. Loyd argues, "global apartheid is not solely about assertions of nation-state sovereignty internationally or at national boundaries. Not only does global apartheid rely on the fortification and policing of sovereign territory and on the delegation of this work regionally to third countries, but it also relies on domestic policing and crime policies and their infrastructure of detention facilities, jails, prisons, and the methods for moving people within this network or removing them through deportation. International geopolitical struggles are increasingly intertwined with carceral regimes, linking domestic and foreign space." By shifting the focus to those most effected by "global apartheid" within and beyond the western nation space, we wish to understand the different forms of national/non-national belongings, solidarities, or individualisms that emerge out of such displacement and dispossession. How do writers from the global South and the global North challenge the concept of the nation space that often operates through the creation of "spaces of exception" marked by race, gender, class, and sexuality? How do these writers resist "a vocabulary of victimage" and instead portray these people as producers of culture, in spite of it all?
Topics might include:

· Black Diaspora Literature and Migration
· North America and its racialized and displaced citizens,
refugees, migrants
·"Africa in Europe" and its displaced citizens, refugees,
· The domestic space and the national space
· Women and migration
· War and displacement
· Neoliberalism and "global apartheid"
· Globalization and dispossession and displacement
· "spaces of exception" within the urban space
· Cold War and displacement
· The Great Migration from South to North in America
· Cosmopolitanism and its others
· Queer Black Diaspora Studies/Immigration and Sexualities