ACLA seminar: Intertidal Intimacies

deadline for submissions: 
September 20, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
American Comparative Literature Association
contact email: 

Intertidal Intimacies

Organizers: Nadine Attewell, McMaster University and Joanne Leow, University of Saskatchewan

In recent decades, thanks to the work of scholars such as Paul Gilroy, Kamau Brathwaite, Elizabeth DeLoughrey, Engseng Ho, Lisa Lowe, Meg Samuelson, and Alice Te Punga Somerville (among many others), the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans have become closely identified with distinctive, translocal histories and infrastructures of movement and encounter. In this seminar, we invite contributions that attend to oceanic sites of arrival, departure, inhabitation, and interchange – beaches, ports, ships, work camps, intertidal zones; the edges of continents, islands, and archipelagos – as a way to think about how such histories and infrastructures themselves circulate, interact, or overlap. Where and how do transatlantic economies of exchange encounter transpacific ones, for example?

Inspired by work in Pacific, Indigenous, African, South and Southeast Asian, Caribbean, Latinx, and Asian and African American studies among others, we seek to stage translocal and transnational conversations that attend to relations across overlapping colonial and postcolonial histories. A beach, as the historian Greg Dening reminds us, can also be an island, the harbour of portus likewise the gate of portare: these are contested sites, marked by ongoing histories of imperialism, colonialism, nation-building and capitalism, and the violence, both slow and catastrophic, of war and environmental change. We therefore encourage contributors to consider both what has been lost and what might arrive through dwelling in and with these haunted, volatile, spaces. How do literature, theatre, performance, film, photography, sound, and other forms of cultural production chart and enact projects for living together at the edge, the littoral? What expressive forms – textual, sonic, auditory, visual, haptic, gestural, bodily – are demanded by their exigencies? How are intertidal zones living, unsettled archives, what Lowe might deem “a constellation of asymmetrical and unevenly legible ‘intimacies’”? And what methodologies, scholarly or otherwise, will enable us to attend to the resonances and frictions between them?

The American Comparative Literature Association's 2019 Annual Meeting will take place at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, March 7th-10th, 2019.