Culture at Our Borders

deadline for submissions: 
September 21, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
ACLA Annual Meeting (UCLA, LA, April 29-March 1, 2018)

It has become increasingly difficult today to characterize cultural belonging. This is not to suggest that cultures have disappeared but that it has become impossible to think of them as homogeneous, providing us with totalizing expressions of collective identity. The globalizing movement of modernity, the deterritorializing flows of its economic relations and the migration that follows it show that the borders between cultures have dissolved while the concept of culture itself is more than ever characterized by internal tensions. It is then neither cultural identity nor its constitutive outside that is central to culture but rather the movement in which it already resides. This movement brings with it the diasporization of cultures that can no longer be essentialized or reterritorialized as homogenous. Indeed, as Hardt and Negri have already argued: “We must cleanse ourselves of any misplaced nostalgia for the belle époque of that modernity.”

The fact that the uniform notion of culture has met its demise is also what calls for its violent revival. We can witness this across our political landscapes where vigorous resurgence of cultural nationalism, racial orthodoxy and ethnocentric revivalism is gaining traction, generating new claims of legitimacy for the subject. Old hatreds of identity politics have flared up and the mythogeny of body, blood, birth, origin is again rekindled as currency in the nostalgic rhetoric of nationalist movements. The “belle époque” of modernity with its horrors seems on the verge of repeating itself. But, perhaps, cultures have never been part of that époque. The concepts of nation, of race and ethnic absolutism we have used to determine our place in modernity, have given the impression of there being something else that preexists our present and our history that have always been characterized by the movement of innumerable and partial differences. Perhaps our reality has, in fact, always been at our borders, never one but constituted of a myriad of syncretic narratives, crosscurrents of meaning and transcultural encounters.

This seminar will focus on cultures in transfer in literary studies and theory, welcoming contributions that may cover but are not limited to the following topics:


  • Significance of home in diaspora literatures
  • Authenticity and nostalgia
  • (Im)possibility of place in a global world
  • Identity formation in transcultural contexts   
  • Diaspora and its (dis)contents
  • Affect theory and cultural displacement
  • Gender and diasporic identity
  • Queering migration
  • Liminality and borders
  • Circulation of memory
  • Migration and cultural dispossession
  • Ethnicity and race in global community
  • Cultural difference in the Anthropocene
  • World literature, a moving concept


Please submit your abstracts using the following link that will take you to ACLA's offical webpage: