[UPDATE/DEADLINE EXTENDED] Call for Chapters--Reiterating Urbanisms: Staging the City in Literature and Media from the Global South

deadline for submissions: 
October 31, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Subashish Bhattacharjee and Indrajit Mukherjee

Reiterating Urbanisms: Staging the City in Literature and Media from the Global South

The Global South has become a representative of political, social, economic, and, to some extent, geographical markers of the countries that fall under the scaffolding of the term. However, the Global South is more than the sum of its parts: it has been gradually shaping up to be a cultural denominator that shapes national and cultural imaginaries into producing artefacts of literary and media consumption, sociopolitical/geopolitical commentaries that develop new narratives of and for the geographies that join together and form this Global South or the postcolony. For a term that has historically come to categorise nations with lower levels of industrialisation, lower per capita incomes, and a history of colonialism or dependence on the Global North, stretching across Africa, Latin America, Asia (barring Japan), and the Caribbean, the Global South is the site for massive upscaling in urbanisation as demographies strive to shift from areas of geographical disadvantage to urban centres that offer better amenities and economic prospect. Current urbanisation projections suggest that cities in the Global South, especially in East Asia, South Asia, and Africa, could be at the receiving end of 96% of an over three billion increase in urban population by 2050 (UN-Habitat 2020), while the global projections for net urban demography stand at growing from 55% presently to 68% by 2050. The growth in urban population in the Global South far outpaces the growth of population, let alone urban demography growth in the Global North, which has started to show a decline in urbanisation over the past couple of decades (Quintero and Restrepo 2019). Starting with the postcolonial epoch beginning towards the end of the long nineteenth century and lasting till the later decades of the twentieth, the Global South has slowly and surely carved out an identity for itself and its population centres, urbanising in its own way, not resorting to the practices laid out by the Global North, but rather adapting the cities to the unique demographies that reside in them, the issues of resources, overpopulation, congestion, residual underdevelopment, disparities, deficits and marginalisation. Due to the significant affiliation that urbanisation has had with the psyche of the Global South, these urban clusters are an intricate part of their cultural manifestations. 

Whether it is the postcolonial city itself (Mumbai, Delhi, Rio De Janeiro, Manila, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Cairo, Lagos and many others) or the postcolonial subject in a city of the Global North, manoeuvring the politics of the colonial geography with their postcolonial identity, literature and media from the Global South has interacted heavily with the city. These interactions have also, in turn, produced new historiographies of the city, new hagiographies, geographies, radical politics, social and cultural paradigms and polarisations, and the affectations of overlapping media, languages, religions and practices in a boiler pot often found missing in their counterparts from the Global North. Cities are not merely historical or cultural but simultaneously ahistorical and influential characters in these artefacts. As such, it is often difficult to isolate the idea of the urban from the works of literature and visual media that conform to these standards. Whether it is in the fiction, poetry and theatre of Rushdie or Achebe, Garcia Márquez, Emecheta, Naipaul, Mistry, Anita and Kiran Desai, Ondaatje, Karnad, Jack Davis, Fugard, Suleri, Césaire, Walcott or Adichie, or the cinema of Mrinal Sen, Satyajit Ray, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Wong Kar-wai, Ann Hui, Lav Diaz, Tsai Ming-liang, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Eric Khoo, Fernando Meirelles, Alejandro Amenábar, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Alfonso Cuarón, Neill Blomkamp, Garin Nugroho, Moufida Tlatli, Djibril Diop Mambéty, Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina and Alejandro Jodorowsky among several others, the city has been a staple that has either been the staging ground for the narrative, part of the ecology, stood in contrast or as an opposition to the focus of the narrative. 

The proposed edited volume, to be published by a major international academic publisher, seeks to look at this dynamic relationship between cities and their cultural artefacts, the literary and other medial production that emerges out of the interactions between the geography and the writer/director, and acts as a performative agent or actant towards developing a new consciousness for the cultural manifestations of the Global South. We seek essays looking at authors, poets, playwrights, directors and artists whose works have explored the dynamism between the population and the urban centres, directly or tangentially. Essays could focus on multiple works by the same creator, their entire oeuvre, or individual works, or even offer comparative studies between the works of diverse creators, but must seek to unravel the urban ethos contained within these narratives, or how the city functions within the narrative paradigms laid out by their creators.

Proposals for essays within 500 words and a short bio are to be submitted by September 30, 2023, with complete articles within 8,000 words (excluding works cited and endnotes), expected by February 29, 2024. We are using the MLA Handbook 8th Edition in this book. Submissions of abstracts, completed essays, and queries will be directed to citiesglobalsouth@gmail.com.