RETURNING TERMS: POSTCOLONIALISM AND THE EVERYDAY IN LITERATURE, CULTURE AND DEVELOPMENT
Call for Papers
Association of American Geographers, Annual Meeting, Tampa, Florida, April 8 to April 12, 2014.
If you are interested in presenting a paper at the following session of the conference, then please email a title and abstract to Jonathan.Pugh@ncl.ac.uk
Session Title: Returning Terms: Postcolonialism and the Everyday in Literature, Culture and Development
“I must be given words to shape my name to the syllables of trees. I must be given words to refashion futures, like a healer’s hand” — Kamau Brathwaite
A key driver for Postcolonial Studies has been the desire to examine the everyday lives of people on their own terms. The matter is not, however, straightforward. A number of novelists, poets and playwrights have, for many years, reminded us that postcolonialism is the struggle against the sense that spoken and written words are not (yet) one’s own, but instead inherited second-hand from others. Authors as varied as Naipaul, Glissant, Harris, Rushdie, Walcott, Darwish and Chamoiseau have all characterised the postcolonial condition as feeling that the words that come out of one’s mouth or which have been marked upon the page have a certain illusionary and artificial quality to them because terms employed cannot (yet) be authentically articulated or received. In Walcott’s words, what will deliver the Caribbean individual “from servitude” is the forging of a language that goes “beyond mimicry, a dialect which had the force of revelation, as it invented names for things, one that finally settled on its own mode of inflection.” This is why most great postcolonial literature incessantly turns and returns to everyday life, drilling down into it, turning over its terms, seeking ways to return the everyday to us anew through new words.
Such concerns raise interesting questions for the contemporary concern with ‘the everyday’ as a category of analysis and site of resistance in social sciences and humanities more generally. Are the ways in which we are presently thinking about the everyday up to the task? Given the central concerns documented above, do postcolonial literature, culture and development suggest we should be thinking about the everyday, the ordinary, the commonplace and the mundane in other ways? This session will unite social scientists and literary scholars through an analysis of the quest for and frustrations associated with the struggle to conceptualise the everyday effectively. The session will operate at the intersections of literature, culture and development studies, thereby highlighting the parallels between art and life and the various ways both fields fold together in everyday experience.
Jon Pugh (Newcastle University).
Malachi McIntosh (CambridgeUniversity)
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