In his essay “Reflections on Exile,” the Arab intellectual Edward Said noted that the difference between earlier exiles and those of our own times is “scale”: “our age—with its modern warfare, imperialism, and the quasi-theological ambitions of totalitarian rulers—is indeed the age of the refugee, the displaced person, and mass migration.”
Exile and migration—the experiences of being separated from one’s homeland—have informed intellectual, cultural, artistic and political thought since antiquity all over the world. But the large scale human migration and displacement that took place in the twentieth century as an outcome of the two world wars, and the current mass exodus of large numbers of people across geo-political borders in parts of Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, South America, and North America speaks to a unique and new man-made historical crisis whose resolution remains as yet unknowable.
The transnational turn in cultural and literary studies may be understood as one attempt to contextualize and comprehend the experiences of the mass movement of people across national borders, mass movement that simultaneously affirms and negates these very same borders.
How do we give voice and form to the phenomenon of mass displacement and uprootedness; the loss of tradition, belonging, language and citizenship; and the possibility of a future where home is not defined by a specific geography or a language, but some other state of being that moves beyond possession and loss to articulate an emergent subjectivity that transcends nation and home?
The transnational perspective also productively engages with the transformations brought about by globalization in which material goods cross national and international borders as part of a “container market” economy. While globalization claims to promote the development of a “global citizen” through the erosion of cultural homogeneity and state sovereignty, it has also aided, by omission or commission, the birth of a new form of insular patriotism, cultural and religious fundamentalism, and a parochial and ethnic populism that is anything but global in practice. The effects of globalization in countries as different as India and the United States have in many cases deepened and widened the existing inequalities and asymmetries within the society, effectively minimizing its economic gains. The transnational perspective critically interrogates the contours of the nation at exactly those points where it claims to disregard them.
Thus transnational identity may be seen to be richly constitutive of complex linkages that challenge and complicate certain fundamental binaries that characterize nation-states, such as assimilation and multiculturalism, citizens and immigrants, the indigenous and the foreign, to name a few obvious and compelling constructs.
Indeed it would not be inaccurate to argue that transnationalism might be the new mode of being evolving out of the crucible of twenty first century challenges to twentieth century nations, national boundaries, and hyper-insular allegiances disguised as citizenship. Transnationalism is the historical force designing the twenty first century.
To this end, for this special issue, we invite thoughtful critical essays, creative pieces, and photography or other visual art engaged with (but not limited to) the following topics, all of which invite contributors to explore the complex experience of transnationalism from a humanities perspective:
Self-hood and identity in transnational contexts
National responses to transnational presences
Transnational refugee and global citizenship
Diaspora, homeland and transnational migration
The visual culture of transnationalism
Memories of homeland, visions of immigrant land
The cinema of exile and transnationalism
Travelogues of transnationalism
The politics of transnationalism
Philosophies and philosophers of transnationalism
Methodologies of transnational inquiries
New epistemologies of transnationalism
The political imaginary of transnationalism
Transnationalism’s imagined communities
Nationhood, citizenship and the transnationalism
Local and global cultures and transnational vectors
The global north and the global south
Gender and transnationalism
Gender and globalization
Race and transnationalism
Subalterns and the underclass in transnationalism
“Sending money back home”: Diaspora, homeland, citizenship and migrant labor
Human Trafficking in transnational contexts
Native American sovereignty and transnationalism
The Arab spring, The Arab winter, and transnationalism
Europe and the Arab World and transnationalism
The Gulf Economy in South Asia in literature and films
The United States and Mexico and transnational issues
“Kuwait of the Plains”: The Bakken Shale and transnationalism as metaphor
This special issue of NDQ will be co-edited by Gayatri Devi (Lock Haven University), Çiğdem Pala Mull (Muğla Sıtkı Koçman University) and Sharon Carson (University of North Dakota).
Submissions Deadline: Friday, March 3, 2017. Please send submissions and queries about additional topics to Sharon Carson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All submissions must be in MLA format. Thanks!