Autobiographical Narratives and the Uprisings of the Global South: the Private, the Collective, and the Global

deadline for submissions: 
September 23, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
American Comparative Literature Association
contact email: 

This panel focuses on the autobiographical narratives of the Global South with a particular attention to those produced during popular revolts and regime-changing uprisings, like the fall of the dictatorships in Latin America, the demise of Apartheid in South Africa, and, more recently, the Arab Uprisings. The first axis that guides our panel is the relationship between “the subject” and “the collective” (understood as the tribal, the sectarian, or the national). These texts, which are generally written by activists, public intellectuals, journalists, or established literary figures, are mostly appreciated as counter-narratives or as the petits récits of national memory. The different roles of the subject of the autobiographical text are often eclipsed by the role of the activist and the historical witness. Considering the autobiographical narrative as a historical document definitely enriches collective memory, but it also has the counter-productive effect of effacing the other figurations of the “I.” We invite papers that study the different conceptualizations of the “I” in the autobiographical texts of the uprisings of the Global South as well as papers that examine the relationship between “subject” and “collectivity” or challenge the dichotomy altogether. Essays that highlight the generic, linguistic, and aesthetic creativity involved in the production of the subject are particularly welcome.
The second axis attends to the global circulation of the autobiographical narratives of the uprisings. The increased rate at which these narratives are being translated calls for an examination of the ethics and politics of their translation and their consecration in the market of world literature. This panel seeks to unpack the notions of cultural and political imperialism that accompany the global circulation of the autobiographical narratives in question.
The autobiographical texts can be memoirs, testimonios, diaries, auto-fiction or any other written or visual form of self-referential narratives.
The questions that we seek to examine include but are not limited to the following:

-How does the body figure in these autobiographical narratives?
-How do the autobiographers of the Global South produce themselves as subjects beyond activism?
-How do they challenge the traditional assumption that the genre is dependent on the notion of the individualized self?
-How do these texts, written in a time of crisis, engage notions of liminality, rites of passage, and border crossing?
-What are the implications of writing one’s life narrative in the language of the colonial other? What kind of solidarity is produced by these autobiographical narratives? What is beyond the demand for recognition?

Individuals interested in participating in this seminar are encouraged to be in touch with the organizers; paper submissions through the portal will open Sept. 1 and close Sept. 23. (
Please email your queries to: Hager Ben Driss ( and Rania Said (