Memories of War in Other Worlds: Approaches to War Literature and Memories from the Global South

deadline for submissions: 
January 15, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
American Comparative Literature Association
contact email: 

Memories of military conflicts from both combatants and non-combatants alike have been a key tool in analyzing the unique traumas and socio-cultural affects of modern warfare. Scholars such as Samuel Hynes and Paul Fussell have done seminal work in articulating theoretical approaches to understanding the memories of bearing witness to modern war. Yet, mainstream war literature largely recounts the white voices from the West. Building further on the works of scholars such as Santanu Das, David Omissi, Franziska Roy and others this seminar seeks to capture the voices of the Global South and their perceptions of modern wars, from the mass global conflicts of the World Wars, to other wars that have continued to be waged in the postcolonial world without being afforded a significant space in Western consciousness. In analyzing primary sources such as letters, memoirs, biographies and including the fictional representations of modern conflicts created by authors from the Global South this seminar seeks to include the authorial voices which have historically been denied a space in the mainstream memorializations of major conflicts. The scope of the seminar includes non-Western perspectives on global wars as well as their approaches to localized regional conflicts and how the experiences of combat and wartime rupture have shaped discourses of culture, literature and collective memory. This seminar seeks to ask what theoretical approaches can be conceptualized through postcolonial theory and other strategies of reading to approach conflict narratives not located in the Western metropole. Locating questions of race, colonial legacies, generational and cultural traumas of the non-Western world and decolonization within the understanding of war narratives would be a prime focus and in scope the discussions aim to incorporate non-white voices from conflicts across Latin America, Africa and Asia to attempt a more holistic and inclusive understanding of legacies of modern conflicts that continue to shape our world. What are the reformulations to received Western perspectives to postcolonial regional geopolitics that can be achieved by a comparative literary and analytical approach to texts recounting the violent ruptures and eruptions of these regions? How do we alter our approach to war literature by including the voices previously marginalized in canonical literary discourse?

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Seminar organizers will intimate whether the abstract has been accepted and for the relevant panel by 9th November, 2021.