scrutiny2: Issues in English Studies in Southern Africa Join the Conversation

Intersecting Diasporas

scrutiny2: Issues in English Studies in Southern Africa

Focus area:  Literature of migration and diaspora, specifically literature of the African, South Asian and Latin American diasporas (Global South); transnational literature; mobility studies

With increased mobility enabled by evolving technology, the world experiences higher rates of migration and globalisation than ever before. This phenomenon has led, in recent years, to a high volume of literature about migration and diaspora, i.e. literature which deals with the general theme of transnationalism.  The term transnational, in its simplest guise, refers to the relations between citizens of different nation states and the networks which link them. It also refers to the complex subjectivities of those who migrate. Scholars emphasise that transnationalism, because of heterogeneity and diversity, gives rise to a site for dynamic social and cultural change. At the same time, continuity is a necessary feature of this site. The co-existence of change and continuity (memory, the past, homeland) then is also a defining element of transnationalism. The tensions and struggles which arise from this paradox have a radical impact on the construction of subjectivities as represented in this literature. Thus the term transnational comes to refer to not only the geographic multi-locationality of authors or characters, but also to their potential for subversion of national, ethnic and other cultural or political identities/affiliations, and it is this potential for subversion which will be the main focus of the proposed themed issue.

Articles which examine literature produced primarily in the African, but also in the Latin American and South Asian diasporic contexts i.e. the Global South, are invited, but other geo-political areas will also be considered. In addition, the themed issue will favour a comparative methodology which explores the respective literatures of these diasporas in relation to each other. The overall intention is for the issue to compare and contrast various transnational texts in order to describe the complex and paradoxical experiences of diaspora in a world of increasing mobility and de-territorialism, which, in certain locations, also faces increased regulation or prohibition of migration. Suggested topics of interest:

  • Border crossing, various forms of border crossing, physical and conceptual (here Avtar Brah’s concept of “processes of multi-locationality across geographical, cultural and psychic boundaries” (1996: 194; emphasis in original) is useful
  • Transnational subjectivities – diaspora as a type of consciousness, as cultural identity, as social formation, including the dismantling and reassembling of identities
  • Nationalisms and transnationalisms – tensions and paradoxes
  • Narratives about forced displacement and refugees
  • Transnational crime fiction
  • Gendered experiences of migration
  • Twenty-first century African diasporas – how does African diasporic literature compare to literatures of the Latin American and South Asian diasporas?
  • Migrations and diasporas within Southern Africa
  • Slave narratives and neo-slave narratives

Submission Instructions

Please send abstracts directly to the editor of the themed issue by 20 September 2018:

Prof Sam Naidu
Department of Literary Studies in English, Rhodes University
Co-Ordinator: Intersecting Diasporas Research Group

Once a preliminary selection based on abstracts has been made, all manuscripts must be submitted via the website: and will be double blind peer reviewed.  The deadline for submission of manuscripts is 30 September 2018.