Roots, routes and rhizomes: narratives of staying, moving and settling in literature
Michelle Tisdel (National Library of Norway)
Cicilie Fagerlid
Helena Wulff (Stockholm University)
Friday 17 August, 9:00-10:45, 11:15-13:00 (UTC+0)

Short abstract:

How do authors with ascribed "minority" background articulate notions of self-identity, belonging, and social formations in literature? This panel invites contributions about literature and narratives of staying, moving or settling. We aim to explore their role in (re)defining the self and society.

Long abstract:

How do authors with ascribed "minority" background articulate notions of self-identity and belonging in literature? The aim of this panel is to explore empirically and theoretically the field known as diaspora, postcolonial, or "minority literature" in different countries. We invite contributions that address the role of this literature and their narratives in (re)defining conditions for self-identity and for cultural and social formations.

Presentations should address the following questions: How do immigrants, descendants of immigrants and other self-identified or ascribed "cultural minorities" articulate and represent notions of self-identity, belonging and society through literature (such as prose, poetry, autobiography, op-eds)? How do their narratives represent imagined communities (Anderson 1983), such as nation and diaspora, and different relationships to them?

Literature that constitutes "new voices" contributes to the circulation of new social narratives. Trouillot (1995) argues that stories and narratives illustrate aspects of "dual historicity," as we simultaneously engage in the sociohistorical process and in narrative constructions about that process. Gullestad (1996) shows how narrative processes and self-historicizing, such as in autobiography, can expose values around which the author centres life and stories about life. Deleuze and Guattari (1986 [1975]) elucidate the subversive potential of minor literatures. This panel also probes if it is useful to employ notions of cultural minorities or "non-white" discourses; and if so, for who, in which contexts and for what purpose or objective?

Keywords: literature, narratives, minorities, diaspora, self-identity, belonging