Unsettling Oceania

deadline for submissions: 
February 28, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Commonwealth Essays and Studies journal


Call for Papers

Commonwealth Essays and Studies

Topical issue: Unsettling Oceania

41.1 (Autumn 2018)


This issue of Commonwealth Essays and Studies will focus on textual productions from Oceania – which is understood here as the region comprising Australia, New Zealand, as well as the Pacific Islands that were integrated into their sphere of influence. The term Oceania draws attention to the centrality of the sea for Pacific Islanders, and emphasizes the relations among them (Hau’Ofa 2008), looking outwards. By contrast, in the imaginary of Australia, the island-continent, the pull is inwards, towards the centre and the desert. The focus of this issue will be the multifaceted process of re-imagining Oceania in the contemporary period (late 20th-21st centuries), looking simultaneously towards the future and back in time towards the colonial period and the mythical times before that. The colonial history of Australia and New Zealand, of “settler societies” that led to the dispossession of Indigenous people, gave rise in these literatures of the South Pacific, among other trends, to a strong, unsettling sense of the uncanny, in the Freudian sense of “the combination of the familiar and the unfamiliar – the way the one seems to inhabit the other” (Gelder & Jacobs 1998: 23). In the postcolonial context, the uncanny emphasizes “the contradictions that mark points of intersection between [various] worlds” (White in Hau’ofa 2008: x). Australian literature is thus “recurrently afflicted […] by some deep-seated sense of ontological dis-ease,” as it continues to free itself from residual colonial ideologies, to reimagine “a nation of self-mythologized ‘unsettled settlers’” (Huggan 2007: viii, xi). In contemporary New Zealand literature, “writers go back to the colonial past for their subject matter but as a way of reinventing literature or unsettling history, not as a homage or a record but as a source of something new and often disquieting” (Stafford and Williams 2012: 941). Indigenous Pacific literatures in English emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s, in a period of worldwide decolonisation and civil rights protest. While many Pacific writers draw on indigenous traditions, much contemporary Pacific writing is still engaged with colonialism and its legacies (Keown 2007: 7).


We welcome articles that explore any aspect in literature and the arts of these processes that aim at reinventing the meaning of home and of relations, in both a post/colonial context and a globalised world. Relevant areas of interest include:


- Indigenous writings, arts and spirituality

- post/colonial representations of Pacific history

- imagined geographies of Oceania

- Gothic fiction, including Aboriginal Gothic

- visions and utopias

- science-fiction stories, fantasy

- eco-criticism

- spirituality, New Age environmentalism


CES is a double-blind peer-reviewed journal. Please send 250-word proposals for articles up to 6,000 word including an abstract, five keywords and a bibliography to guest editors Salhia Ben-Messahel (salhiabm@free.fr) and Christine Lorre-Johnston (christine.lorre@univ-paris3.fr) by 28 February 2018 (extended deadline). Confirmation of acceptance will be sent out within a month after this deadline, and draft versions of papers will be due by 1 June 2018.