Voicing Otherness Reconfiguring Australia’s Postcoloniality

deadline for submissions: 
January 31, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Marilena Parlati

Voicing Otherness: Reconfiguring Australia’s Postcoloniality?

17th ESSE Conference 2024 Lausanne  26-30 August 2024

(please note, only members of one of the European Association for English Studies or similar can present papers at the Conference, so you should consider applying for one before sending a proposal)

Recent debates in so-called Commonwealth nations have raised issues about the
representation of others and the way in which an Other is o;en defined through a
distorted vision stemming from the sustaining of imperial/nationalistic practices
that may been even more significant in the late 20th and the 21st Centuries at a
global level. The place of Europe in former colonies is still paramount with the
binary centre/margin, locating the non-European Other in a liminal space and, in
fact, conveying a nostalgia for an imperial past. The post-reconciliation stage in
Australia and the Uluru statement from the heart (2017) have paved the way for
the current political debates around “A Voice to Parliament” meant to enshrine an
Indigenous voice in the Australian constitution and thus bring all Australians
together and encourage them to move forward as a nation.
Several critics in various fields of the academia (Ashcroft; Appadurai; C Bhabha;
Mbembe…) have sought to explore the perception of otherness in order to
question the various discourses that seek to reappraise the role of the nation,
reconfigure the space of the nation or the agency of Other. Australian fiction o;en
shows how the cultural encounter between individuals under the flagship
“multicultural nation” is even more complex, considering the sustaining of
practices inherited from Europe and of a discourse that maintains the “non-
European” in a liminal space.
In his book, Postcolonial Melancholia (2005) Gilroy argues that the need for the
homogenized nation often surfaces as an attempt to dismiss a postcolonial
situation deemed desperate. Gilroy focuses on the mechanisms that trigger the
return of nationalisms (in their various forms) and induce a postcolonial chaos.
Taking on Gilroy’s analysis of ethnicity and identity issues and Ghassan Hage's work
on multiculturalism and his idea that Australia’s multiculturalism is a
“cosmopolitan multiculturalism”, that it thus prevents inclusion for the sake of less
visible forms of exclusion, we encourage papers that analyze the various forms of
marginalization that occur in the “postcolonial moment” and to what extent such
a ”moment” may encourage writers to search for new alternatives: alternative
ways of living and of relating to the earth, alternative ways of approaching and
experiencing otherness, also alternative literary discourses of the Other – which
may point out to tensions between the postmodern and the postcolonial.
Bourdieu’s notion of “habitus” may be useful for the understanding of discourses
that articulate physical space, social space, and spiritual space. The issue at stake
will be to determine to what extent a reconstruction of landscapes, a rewriting of
myths and stories can or cannot trace the contours of a post-colonial cultural
In following these ideas, we encourage papers in the field of Australian literatures
that address the displacement of individuals and the many forms of wanderings
that that occur within the space of the nation and global environments. Thus, it
might be noteworthy to determine the extent by which the act of wandering may
trace the contours of various forms of enrooting and may create a diaspora of
forms. How such a diaspora may question, affect, or simply relocate the
postcolonial in an “alter moment”.

Please send your proposals to both:

Pr Salhia Ben-Messahel, University of Toulon (France)

Pr Marilena Parlati, University of Padova (Italy)