Migrant Literatures, Refugee Poetics

deadline for submissions: 
November 1, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English
contact email: 

Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities 2017, Ryerson University May 27-30

Migrant Literatures, Refugee Poetics

In 1984, Edward Said wrote, “Our age, with its modern warfare, imperialism and the quasi-theological ambitions of totalitarian rulers - is indeed the age of the refugee, the displaced person, mass immigration.” While Said’s observation has become undeniable, the category of “refugee” remains one that tends to be deployed impressionistically in Western culture. Emotional criticism of the “unfairness” of segregating refugees and other “classes” of migrants is at best as effective as “sending thoughts and prayers.” As T.J. Demos states, “Far more radical is universalizing the migrant as the condition of being human, and determining a politics of quality on that basis” (The Migrant Image 2013).

We invite papers that engage with contemporary non-narrative literature authored by people who have been displaced by warfare, imperialism, ecological change, or totalitarian rule.  These may seek to articulate a method towards “refugee poetics” akin to Shailja Patel’s concept of “migritude” (Migritude 2008), or work towards refining the concept of migritude itself. We ask prospective panelists to consider: 

  • How do non-narrative forms of representation influence migrant peoples, global politics, and aesthetics?
  • What critical standards exist to receive “migrant literary production”? How do these intersect  with the politics of translating, publishing, theorizing, and commenting on literatures from migrant or refugee positions?
  • What is it to be “migrant?” To be “refugee?” How can we ensure that this category of subjectivity is approached with the rigour it deserves and avoid subsuming it under the field of diaspora studies? 

Please send the following items to Eileen Wennekers (mwennekers@faculty.ocadu.ca) and Leif Schenstead-Harris (lschenst@uwo.ca) by 1 November 2016: