Postcolonial Islands, Their Sensiblity and Challenges (ACLA 2021)

deadline for submissions: 
October 31, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Nick Tsung-Che Lu / Southeastern Louisiana University
contact email:

This seminar continues the topic of island postcoloniality proposed for ACLA's 2020 meeting. Researchers of island cultures have argued that due to their geo-singularity, the (post)colonial conditions of islands deserve special attention and the study of them requires a different set of concepts and methodologies than what are readily available or predominant in cultural studies. One prominent example would be Elizabeth DeLoughrey's "tidalectics." This seminar hopes to enrich discussion of island (post)coloniality from a cultural standpoint. We invite proposals that explore whether or not and in what ways “islandness” shapes a unique “island cultural sensibility” and the ways in which literature reflects island peoples’ specific concerns about politics, economics, culture, identity, and environment. We especially welcome proposals that seek to (1) make theoretical intervention by putting island studies and postcolonial studies in dialogue and (2) conduct place-based or comparative studies focusing on stories about/from a specific island or group of islands. Often occupied by multiple imperial powers and used as cultural buffer zones or entry points for economic expansion by the colonizers, island societies have been and still are standing at the forefront of globalization and act as connecting points facilitating flows of capital, humans, objects, knowledge, and cultures. Although we acknowledge that there are important differences in size, demographics, and history among different island communities, we believe that a better understanding of them is instrumental in broadening the scope and richness of cultural studies today and problematize a series of key concepts such as “the postcolonial,” “decoloniality,” “sovereignty,” “dependency” shaping our understanding of the contemporary world of the nation-state.

Following are some possible questions that can serve as potential launching points for investigation: In what ways can a correlation between island reality and island metaphysics be legitimately claimed without reinforcing island essentialism? How is island postcoloniality a more meaningful grouping than conventional geographical categories such as the Caribbean, South Asian, and African postcolonialism? What theoretical approaches are particularly appropriate in studying the cultural sensibility of island societies? How does the study of islands help us understand postcolonialism/decoloniality in an innovative form? How can we better understand place-based islands without generalizing them to large categories such as the Caribbean, South Asian, and Latin American that they are usually grouped?

If you are interested in sharing your research with us, please use this link ( to submit your paper abstract before the deadline of October 31. Be sure to select our panel “The Postcolonial Islands, Their Sensibility and Challenges” in the seminar dropdown menu.

Thank you. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Nick T. C. Lu (