NeMLA 2023 - Making Life in Limbo: Representing Life, Resilience and Community in Refugee Literature

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Jonathan Nash (University of Victoria)
contact email: 

Please consider submitting an abstract for the following panel at the 54th Annual NeMLA Convention to be held from March 23-26, 2023, in Niagara Falls, NY. Abstracts are accepted from June 15 to September 30, 2022.

Submit abstracts at the NeMLA portal:

This panel invites papers that attend to emerging perspectives on the representation of refugee histories and experiences in literature. The figure of the refugee has been the subject of much political and philosophical debate, ranging from discussions about the im/mobilities of refugees crossing borders (Walia 2021; Mbembe 2019; & Jones 2016) to their being subjects of militarized care and humanitarian intervention (Oliver 2017; Espiritu 2014; Nyers 2013; Miriam 2011; & Malkki 1996). More recent investigations in literary study have focused on representations of border spaces like refugee camps and migrant detention centers across a wide spectrum of mediums including April Shemak’s Asylum Speakers: Caribbean Refugees and Testimonial Discourse, Agnes Woolley’s Contemporary Asylum Narratives: Representing Refugees in the 21st Century, and David Farrier’s Postcolonial Asylum: Seeking Sanctuary Before the Law. More can be said, however, about the representation of resilient refugee communities in literature. This panel seeks to open new lines of inquiry in the study of refugee literatures through the following questions: What formations resisting violence, surveillance, and detainment does refugee literature elucidate? In what ways does this literature narrate the making of resilient communities within what Prem Rajaram and Carl Grundy-Warr call “borderscapes” (2007)? Finally, how do the aesthetic and language choices of refugee literature represent living in contradistinction to these bio-necropolitical spaces?

Paper topics include but are not limited to: 

  • Representations of refugees in graphic novels and memoirs
  • Refugee memoirs and testimonials 
  • Refugees in film and television 
  • Collaborative writing projects 
  • Experiences and histories of refuge or asylum in opera and musical theatre

If you have any questions, please contact Jonathan Nash (University of Victoria) at