MLA International Symposium Panel - Faceless No Longer: The Migrant, The Citizen, and the Return of Postcolonial Critique

deadline for submissions: 
September 19, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Eralda L. Lameborshi and Dhrubaa Mukherjeee

We are organizing a panel to propose at the MLA International Symposium that will take place in Lisbon, Portugal on 23-25 July, 2019. See below for panel proposal and instructions for submissions. Note that the deadline for submissions is 19 September 2018. 


Faceless No Longer: The Migrant, the Citizen, and the Return of Postcolonial Critique

The current policies western nations have enacted in response to the immigration crisis have caused an outcry among those who view the western nations’ actions as inadequate. Critics have accurately argued that the immigration crisis is a result of colonial practices of the past, and neo-colonial/neo-liberal practices of the present.  Such critiques require a self-reflection on the part of western nations and their citizens, which is a gesture that this international symposium also attempts by wishing to recover the ‘lost voices’ of history through examining the increase in hate speech and xenophobia against ‘the Other.’ This panel seeks papers that examine hate speech and xenophobia in the present moment not as ‘resurgent,’ but as always already present. To assume that there is a resurgence of hate speech and xenophobia is to imply that the immigration crisis is the culprit for the resurgence, which can be only true if we ignore a long history of oppression via colonial and neo-colonial practices. This panel asks: in light of the painstaking work of anticolonial and postcolonial scholars throughout the twentieth and into the twenty-first Century, why are the humanities, once more, returning to the question of ‘the Other’ as though it was never addressed?

We invite papers that demonstrate how ethnic, religious, and hate speech were never eradicated, but were always amongst us. We invite papers that examine cultural texts: literature, film, documentaries, performances, and other forms of media, which exhibit the permanence of the figure of ‘the Other’ prior to the current immigrant crises. We seek papers that uncover the agency of the texts themselves: writing, filmmaking, and other media that display how cultural production is entrusted with social responsibilities. This panel seeks to understand the following questions, among others: In what way can a return to postcolonial discourse contribute to the current moment? What responsibility have scholars and artists to recover voices that were always already there, and how might scholarship and artistic production encourage audiences to see that the faceless migrant, immigrant, and exile, was never faceless? How can literature, film, and media reclaim important cultural real estate for migrant voices that have been silenced, denied, and unheard?


Send to the panel organizers a 250-word abstract and a short bio by September 19, 2018: and