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Diaspora Literary Studies
QUAYSON
ISBN: 978-1-4051-8236-2
Hardcover
256 pages
March 2015, ©2012, Wiley-Blackwell
Title in editorial stage
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Even though diasporas have existed since the dawn of documented history, the scholarly field of Diaspora Studies, marked by specific institutions, conferences, journals, and professional scholars, is of more recent vintage. Since the beginning of the 20th century and with varying historiographic emphases the field has been dominated by studies of the “classic” diasporas, namely the Jewish, Greek, Armenian, and African American. Yet over the past twenty or so years the term has been appropriated by newer groups for different forms of diasporic study. Such groups include the Chinese, the South Asian, the Irish, the Italian, the Caribbean, and various others. Different institutional, political, and historical factors pertaining to the consolidation of the position of various immigrant groups in the United States and in Europe have determined these shifting emphases. It is significant to note in this regard the role that donors with particular cultural leanings have had in setting up centers for studies of various diasporas in some of major universities in the US, Europe and elsewhere. The process is still continuing.


Following the writings of cultural critics such as Arjun Appadurai, Robin Cohen, Avtar Brah, Stuart Hall, William Safran, James Clifford, Paul Gilroy and others there has also been an internal differentiation within Diaspora Studies between those that align it closely to analyses of migration and its impact on the nation-state and those who take a more culturalist and processual attitude toward describing the phenomenon. What has not yet been done is a careful exploration of the impact of diaspora and diasporization on the literary imagination. In fact, it is striking how much the field has been defined by the disciplines such as Sociology, Anthropology, Political Science, and to a certain degree, History. There has not yet been a thorough and critical examination of diasporic literary writing and how this intersects with other kinds of writing in terms of content, genre, and thematic focus. Even though it proved a useful collection for teaching, Jana Evans Braziel and Anita Mannur’s 2003 Theorizing Diaspora does not contain a single chapter that attempts to theorize the field from a literary perspective. The proposed book would fill a very important gap in the field not only by providing a critical/theoretical overview of diasporic literary writing but by doing this in a comparative and interdisciplinary way, reading literary texts against visual representations, sociological accounts and historical interventions to generate a fuller and multi-stranded picture.

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