Writing Europe: the dialogue of 'liminal Europeans'
Máiréad Nic Craith
Paper short abstract:
The presentation focuses on auto/ethnographies that have been authored by 'liminal Europeans' with particular reference to the concept of Europe. How do migrants translate their narratives from one European region to another? What is the composite picture of Europe that is created in these migrant writings and how significant is the experience of liminality?
Paper long abstract:
In his Dialogic Imagination Mikhail Bakhtin focuses on the dialogic and the 'monologic' process of literature. He suggests that a dialogic work is engaged in a continual dialogue with other pieces of writing. It is not simply that one literary work responds to previous publications, but it also engages with and is informed by previous endeavours. This presentation focuses on the writings of what are called 'liminal Europeans' i.e. migrants who have transferred from one cultural context to another and who have experienced the challenge of living in a dominant culture and language which is not native to them. Migration has been a regular feature in Europe since before the Romans. However an acceleration of this process in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries has resulted in the breaking down of old affinities and alignments and the emergence of new formations that challenge traditional group definitions. Many Europeans experience strong senses of exclusion from the mainstream society to which they have migrated. Some have explored this challenge of liminality in writing. The presentation focuses on auto/ethnographies that have been penned in a liminal context with particular reference to the concept of Europe. How do migrants translate their own memories and stories from one region of Europe into a new cultural setting? What is the composite picture of Europe that is created in these migrant writings and how significant is the experience of liminality?