Diaspora and Literary Studies 9781108887946

Diaspora is an ancient term that gained broad new significance in the twentieth century. At its simplest, diaspora refer

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Diaspora and Literary Studies
 9781108887946

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DIASPORA AND LITERARY STUDIES

Diaspora is an ancient term that gained broad new significance in the twentieth century. At its simplest, diaspora refers to the geographic dispersion of a people from a common originary space to other sites. It pulls together ideas of people, movement, memory, and home, but also troubles them. In this volume, established and newer scholars provide fresh explorations of diaspora for twenty-first-century literary studies. The volume reexamines major diaspora origin stories, theorizes diaspora through its conceptual intimacies and entanglements, and analyzes literary and visual-cultural texts to reimagine the genres, genders, and genealogies of diaspora. Literary mappings move across Africa, the Americas, the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and Pacific Islands, and through Atlantic, Pacific, Mediterranean, Gulf, and Indian waters. Chapters reflect on diaspora as a key concept for migration, postcolonial, global comparative race, environmental, gender, and queer studies. The volume is thus an accessible and provocative account of diaspora as a vital resource for literary studies in a bordered world.   is Associate Professor of English at Clemson University and author of Salvage Work: U.S. and Caribbean Literatures amid the Debris of Legal Personhood (), which won the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present book prize and received honorable mention for the MLA’s William Sanders Scarborough Award.

Published online by Cambridge University Press

   Cambridge Critical Concepts focuses on the important ideas animating twentiethand twenty-first-century literary studies. Each concept addressed in the series has had a profound impact on literary studies, as well as on other disciplines, and already has a substantial critical bibliography surrounding it. This series captures the dynamic critical energies transmitted across twentieth- and twenty-first-century literary landscapes: the concepts critics bring to reading, interpretation, and criticism. By addressing the origins, development, and application of these ideas, the books collate and clarify how these particular concepts have developed, while also featuring fresh insights and establishing new lines of enquiry. Cambridge Critical Concepts shifts the focus from period- or genre-based literary studies of key terms to the history and development of the terms themselves. Broad and detailed contributions cumulatively identify and investigate the various historical and cultural catalysts that made these critical concepts emerge as established twenty-first-century landmarks in the discipline. The level will be suitable for advanced undergraduates, graduates, and specialists, as well as for those teaching outside their own research areas, and will have cross-disciplinary relevance for subjects such as history and philosophy. Titles in the Series Law and Literature Edited by   University of Western Australia Time and Literature Edited by  .  University of Ottawa The Global South and Literature Edited by  - University of Tu¨bingen Trauma and Literature Edited by   The College at Brockport, State University of New York Food and Literature Edited by   San Francisco State University Animals, Animality, and Literature Edited by  ,  , and   Florida State University and University of Montreal

Published online by Cambridge University Press

Terrorism and Literature Edited by   San Diego State University Climate and Literature Edited by   University of Surrey Orientalism and Literature Edited by   SOAS, University of London Decadence and Literature Edited by   and   Goldsmiths, University of London, and Hunter College Affect and Literature Edited by   University of Cambridge Sound and Literature Edited by   King’s College London Magical Realism and Literature Edited by   and    University of Cambridge and Wheaton College Surrealism Edited by   University of Melbourne Globalisation and Literary Studies Edited by   University of Nottingham War and Literary Studies Edited by  - and   University of Southern Denmark and University of New South Wales

Published online by Cambridge University Press

Published online by Cambridge University Press

DIASPORA AND LITERARY STUDIES       ANGELA NAIMOU Clemson University

Published online by Cambridge University Press

Shaftesbury Road, Cambridge CB EA, United Kingdom One Liberty Plaza, th Floor, New York, NY , USA  Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne, VIC , Australia –, rd Floor, Plot , Splendor Forum, Jasola District Centre, New Delhi – , India  Penang Road, #–/, Visioncrest Commercial, Singapore  Cambridge University Press is part of Cambridge University Press & Assessment, a department of the University of Cambridge. We share the University’s mission to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence. www.cambridge.org Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/ DOI: ./ © Cambridge University Press & Assessment  This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press & Assessment. First published  A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data : Naimou, Angela, editor. : Diaspora and literary studies / [edited by] Angela Naimou. : Cambridge ; New York, NY : Cambridge University Press, . | Series: Cambridge critical concepts | Includes bibliographical references and index. :   (print) |   (ebook) |   (hardback) |   (paperback) |   (epub) : : Emigration and immigration in literature. :  .   (print) |  . (ebook) |  /.– dc/eng/ LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/ LC ebook record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/ ISBN ---- Hardback Cambridge University Press & Assessment has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

Published online by Cambridge University Press

DIASPORA AND LITERARY STUDIES

Diaspora is an ancient term that gained broad new significance in the twentieth century. At its simplest, diaspora refers to the geographic dispersion of a people from a common originary space to other sites. It pulls together ideas of people, movement, memory, and home, but also troubles them. In this volume, established and newer scholars provide fresh explorations of diaspora for twenty-first-century literary studies. The volume reexamines major diaspora origin stories, theorizes diaspora through its conceptual intimacies and entanglements, and analyzes literary and visual-cultural texts to reimagine the genres, genders, and genealogies of diaspora. Literary mappings move across Africa, the Americas, the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and Pacific Islands, and through Atlantic, Pacific, Mediterranean, Gulf, and Indian waters. Chapters reflect on diaspora as a key concept for migration, postcolonial, global comparative race, environmental, gender, and queer studies. The volume is thus an accessible and provocative account of diaspora as a vital resource for literary studies in a bordered world.   is Associate Professor of English at Clemson University and author of Salvage Work: U.S. and Caribbean Literatures amid the Debris of Legal Personhood (), which won the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present book prize and received honorable mention for the MLA’s William Sanders Scarborough Award.

Published online by Cambridge University Press

   Cambridge Critical Concepts focuses on the important ideas animating twentiethand twenty-first-century literary studies. Each concept addressed in the series has had a profound impact on literary studies, as well as on other disciplines, and already has a substantial critical bibliography surrounding it. This series captures the dynamic critical energies transmitted across twentieth- and twenty-first-century literary landscapes: the concepts critics bring to reading, interpretation, and criticism. By addressing the origins, development, and application of these ideas, the books collate and clarify how these particular concepts have developed, while also featuring fresh insights and establishing new lines of enquiry. Cambridge Critical Concepts shifts the focus from period- or genre-based literary studies of key terms to the history and development of the terms themselves. Broad and detailed contributions cumulatively identify and investigate the various historical and cultural catalysts that made these critical concepts emerge as established twenty-first-century landmarks in the discipline. The level will be suitable for advanced undergraduates, graduates, and specialists, as well as for those teaching outside their own research areas, and will have cross-disciplinary relevance for subjects such as history and philosophy. Titles in the Series Law and Literature Edited by   University of Western Australia Time and Literature Edited by  .  University of Ottawa The Global South and Literature Edited by  - University of Tu¨bingen Trauma and Literature Edited by   The College at Brockport, State University of New York Food and Literature Edited by   San Francisco State University Animals, Animality, and Literature Edited by  ,  , and   Florida State University and University of Montreal

Published online by Cambridge University Press

Terrorism and Literature Edited by   San Diego State University Climate and Literature Edited by   University of Surrey Orientalism and Literature Edited by   SOAS, University of London Decadence and Literature Edited by   and   Goldsmiths, University of London, and Hunter College Affect and Literature Edited by   University of Cambridge Sound and Literature Edited by   King’s College London Magical Realism and Literature Edited by   and    University of Cambridge and Wheaton College Surrealism Edited by   University of Melbourne Globalisation and Literary Studies Edited by   University of Nottingham War and Literary Studies Edited by  - and   University of Southern Denmark and University of New South Wales

Published online by Cambridge University Press

Published online by Cambridge University Press

DIASPORA AND LITERARY STUDIES       ANGELA NAIMOU Clemson University

Published online by Cambridge University Press

Shaftesbury Road, Cambridge CB EA, United Kingdom One Liberty Plaza, th Floor, New York, NY , USA  Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne, VIC , Australia –, rd Floor, Plot , Splendor Forum, Jasola District Centre, New Delhi – , India  Penang Road, #–/, Visioncrest Commercial, Singapore  Cambridge University Press is part of Cambridge University Press & Assessment, a department of the University of Cambridge. We share the University’s mission to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence. www.cambridge.org Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/ DOI: ./ © Cambridge University Press & Assessment  This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press & Assessment. First published  A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data : Naimou, Angela, editor. : Diaspora and literary studies / [edited by] Angela Naimou. : Cambridge ; New York, NY : Cambridge University Press, . | Series: Cambridge critical concepts | Includes bibliographical references and index. :   (print) |   (ebook) |   (hardback) |   (paperback) |   (epub) : : Emigration and immigration in literature. :  .   (print) |  . (ebook) |  /.– dc/eng/ LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/ LC ebook record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/ ISBN ---- Hardback Cambridge University Press & Assessment has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

Published online by Cambridge University Press

DIASPORA AND LITERARY STUDIES

Diaspora is an ancient term that gained broad new significance in the twentieth century. At its simplest, diaspora refers to the geographic dispersion of a people from a common originary space to other sites. It pulls together ideas of people, movement, memory, and home, but also troubles them. In this volume, established and newer scholars provide fresh explorations of diaspora for twenty-first-century literary studies. The volume reexamines major diaspora origin stories, theorizes diaspora through its conceptual intimacies and entanglements, and analyzes literary and visual-cultural texts to reimagine the genres, genders, and genealogies of diaspora. Literary mappings move across Africa, the Americas, the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and Pacific Islands, and through Atlantic, Pacific, Mediterranean, Gulf, and Indian waters. Chapters reflect on diaspora as a key concept for migration, postcolonial, global comparative race, environmental, gender, and queer studies. The volume is thus an accessible and provocative account of diaspora as a vital resource for literary studies in a bordered world.   is Associate Professor of English at Clemson University and author of Salvage Work: U.S. and Caribbean Literatures amid the Debris of Legal Personhood (), which won the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present book prize and received honorable mention for the MLA’s William Sanders Scarborough Award.

Published online by Cambridge University Press

   Cambridge Critical Concepts focuses on the important ideas animating twentiethand twenty-first-century literary studies. Each concept addressed in the series has had a profound impact on literary studies, as well as on other disciplines, and already has a substantial critical bibliography surrounding it. This series captures the dynamic critical energies transmitted across twentieth- and twenty-first-century literary landscapes: the concepts critics bring to reading, interpretation, and criticism. By addressing the origins, development, and application of these ideas, the books collate and clarify how these particular concepts have developed, while also featuring fresh insights and establishing new lines of enquiry. Cambridge Critical Concepts shifts the focus from period- or genre-based literary studies of key terms to the history and development of the terms themselves. Broad and detailed contributions cumulatively identify and investigate the various historical and cultural catalysts that made these critical concepts emerge as established twenty-first-century landmarks in the discipline. The level will be suitable for advanced undergraduates, graduates, and specialists, as well as for those teaching outside their own research areas, and will have cross-disciplinary relevance for subjects such as history and philosophy. Titles in the Series Law and Literature Edited by   University of Western Australia Time and Literature Edited by  .  University of Ottawa The Global South and Literature Edited by  - University of Tu¨bingen Trauma and Literature Edited by   The College at Brockport, State University of New York Food and Literature Edited by   San Francisco State University Animals, Animality, and Literature Edited by  ,  , and   Florida State University and University of Montreal

Published online by Cambridge University Press

Terrorism and Literature Edited by   San Diego State University Climate and Literature Edited by   University of Surrey Orientalism and Literature Edited by   SOAS, University of London Decadence and Literature Edited by   and   Goldsmiths, University of London, and Hunter College Affect and Literature Edited by   University of Cambridge Sound and Literature Edited by   King’s College London Magical Realism and Literature Edited by   and    University of Cambridge and Wheaton College Surrealism Edited by   University of Melbourne Globalisation and Literary Studies Edited by   University of Nottingham War and Literary Studies Edited by  - and   University of Southern Denmark and University of New South Wales

Published online by Cambridge University Press

Published online by Cambridge University Press

DIASPORA AND LITERARY STUDIES       ANGELA NAIMOU Clemson University

Published online by Cambridge University Press

Shaftesbury Road, Cambridge CB EA, United Kingdom One Liberty Plaza, th Floor, New York, NY , USA  Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne, VIC , Australia –, rd Floor, Plot , Splendor Forum, Jasola District Centre, New Delhi – , India  Penang Road, #–/, Visioncrest Commercial, Singapore  Cambridge University Press is part of Cambridge University Press & Assessment, a department of the University of Cambridge. We share the University’s mission to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence. www.cambridge.org Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/ DOI: ./ © Cambridge University Press & Assessment  This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press & Assessment. First published  A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data : Naimou, Angela, editor. : Diaspora and literary studies / [edited by] Angela Naimou. : Cambridge ; New York, NY : Cambridge University Press, . | Series: Cambridge critical concepts | Includes bibliographical references and index. :   (print) |   (ebook) |   (hardback) |   (paperback) |   (epub) : : Emigration and immigration in literature. :  .   (print) |  . (ebook) |  /.– dc/eng/ LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/ LC ebook record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/ ISBN ---- Hardback Cambridge University Press & Assessment has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

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DIASPORA AND LITERARY STUDIES

Diaspora is an ancient term that gained broad new significance in the twentieth century. At its simplest, diaspora refers to the geographic dispersion of a people from a common originary space to other sites. It pulls together ideas of people, movement, memory, and home, but also troubles them. In this volume, established and newer scholars provide fresh explorations of diaspora for twenty-first-century literary studies. The volume reexamines major diaspora origin stories, theorizes diaspora through its conceptual intimacies and entanglements, and analyzes literary and visual-cultural texts to reimagine the genres, genders, and genealogies of diaspora. Literary mappings move across Africa, the Americas, the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and Pacific Islands, and through Atlantic, Pacific, Mediterranean, Gulf, and Indian waters. Chapters reflect on diaspora as a key concept for migration, postcolonial, global comparative race, environmental, gender, and queer studies. The volume is thus an accessible and provocative account of diaspora as a vital resource for literary studies in a bordered world.   is Associate Professor of English at Clemson University and author of Salvage Work: U.S. and Caribbean Literatures amid the Debris of Legal Personhood (), which won the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present book prize and received honorable mention for the MLA’s William Sanders Scarborough Award.

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   Cambridge Critical Concepts focuses on the important ideas animating twentiethand twenty-first-century literary studies. Each concept addressed in the series has had a profound impact on literary studies, as well as on other disciplines, and already has a substantial critical bibliography surrounding it. This series captures the dynamic critical energies transmitted across twentieth- and twenty-first-century literary landscapes: the concepts critics bring to reading, interpretation, and criticism. By addressing the origins, development, and application of these ideas, the books collate and clarify how these particular concepts have developed, while also featuring fresh insights and establishing new lines of enquiry. Cambridge Critical Concepts shifts the focus from period- or genre-based literary studies of key terms to the history and development of the terms themselves. Broad and detailed contributions cumulatively identify and investigate the various historical and cultural catalysts that made these critical concepts emerge as established twenty-first-century landmarks in the discipline. The level will be suitable for advanced undergraduates, graduates, and specialists, as well as for those teaching outside their own research areas, and will have cross-disciplinary relevance for subjects such as history and philosophy. Titles in the Series Law and Literature Edited by   University of Western Australia Time and Literature Edited by  .  University of Ottawa The Global South and Literature Edited by  - University of Tu¨bingen Trauma and Literature Edited by   The College at Brockport, State University of New York Food and Literature Edited by   San Francisco State University Animals, Animality, and Literature Edited by  ,  , and   Florida State University and University of Montreal

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Terrorism and Literature Edited by   San Diego State University Climate and Literature Edited by   University of Surrey Orientalism and Literature Edited by   SOAS, University of London Decadence and Literature Edited by   and   Goldsmiths, University of London, and Hunter College Affect and Literature Edited by   University of Cambridge Sound and Literature Edited by   King’s College London Magical Realism and Literature Edited by   and    University of Cambridge and Wheaton College Surrealism Edited by   University of Melbourne Globalisation and Literary Studies Edited by   University of Nottingham War and Literary Studies Edited by  - and   University of Southern Denmark and University of New South Wales

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DIASPORA AND LITERARY STUDIES       ANGELA NAIMOU Clemson University

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Shaftesbury Road, Cambridge CB EA, United Kingdom One Liberty Plaza, th Floor, New York, NY , USA  Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne, VIC , Australia –, rd Floor, Plot , Splendor Forum, Jasola District Centre, New Delhi – , India  Penang Road, #–/, Visioncrest Commercial, Singapore  Cambridge University Press is part of Cambridge University Press & Assessment, a department of the University of Cambridge. We share the University’s mission to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence. www.cambridge.org Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/ DOI: ./ © Cambridge University Press & Assessment  This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press & Assessment. First published  A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data : Naimou, Angela, editor. : Diaspora and literary studies / [edited by] Angela Naimou. : Cambridge ; New York, NY : Cambridge University Press, . | Series: Cambridge critical concepts | Includes bibliographical references and index. :   (print) |   (ebook) |   (hardback) |   (paperback) |   (epub) : : Emigration and immigration in literature. :  .   (print) |  . (ebook) |  /.– dc/eng/ LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/ LC ebook record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/ ISBN ---- Hardback Cambridge University Press & Assessment has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

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Contents

List of Figures Notes on Contributors Acknowledgments

page x xi xviii

Introduction: Diaspora and Literary Studies



Angela Naimou

   



 Displaced in Diaspora? Jewish Communities in the Greco-Roman World



Erich S. Gruen

 Interoceanic Relational Diasporas: A Caribbean Perspective



Supriya M. Nair

 The Language of Lakay: Diaspora as Project and Process in Haitian Cultural Production



Régine Michelle Jean-Charles

 The Insufficiency of Paradigms: Diaspora in South Asian Literature



Sangeeta Ray

 Lynchpins of Sovereignty: Forced Removal and the Deportspora Imaginary



Mary Pat Brady

 Afrofuturist Speculations and Diaspora Yogita Goyal

vii

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

Contents

viii     

The Shock of Relation: Queer Diasporas in Law and Literature

 

Mrinalini Chakravorty



Strangers and Brothers: James Baldwin’s Encounters with Africa



Laila Amine



Incommensurability, Inextricability, Entanglement: Stuart Hall and the Question of Palestine



Keith P. Feldman

 Radical Black Poetics and South–South Movement



Walt Hunter

 Remembering the Uses of Diaspora, or Palestine Is Still the Issue



Anthony C. Alessandrini

 Refugee Ecologies: Narratives of Water in Vietnamese Diaspora



Marguerite Nguyen

 Diaspora and Detention: Behrouz Boochani, Manus Prison, and Genres of the Borderscape



Jini Kim Watson

    , ,  



 Transpacific Noir



Jinah Kim

 From Nothing to Something: Black Speculative Fiction and the Trayvon Generation



Justin L. Mann

 Biological and Narrative Reproduction in the Family-Saga Novels of Maryse Condé



Rachel L. Mordecai

 The Embodied Feminist Futures of Diaspora Samantha Pinto

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

Contents  Of Origin and Opportunity: Co-narratives of Refugitude in Roxane Gay’s Ayiti

ix 

Lauren K. Alleyne

 Arabic Diasporic Literary Trajectories: Reinvented Magical Realisms, Biopolitical Ruptures, and Planetarity



Rita Sakr

 Decolonizing across Borders: Diasporic–Indigenous Encounters and the Predicaments of Arrival



Nadine Attewell

Select Bibliography Index

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 

Figures

. Camp fumigation in Behrouz Boochani’s and Arash Kamali Sarvestani’s codirected film Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time () page  . Janet Galbraith, Poruan “Sam” Malai, and Clement Solomon discuss the Chauka bird and Manusian history 

x

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Notes on Contributors

 .  is Professor of English at Kingsborough Community College and of Middle Eastern Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center, where he is also a member of the Committee on Globalization and Social Change. He is the author of Frantz Fanon and the Future of Cultural Politics (Lexington Books, ); the editor of Frantz Fanon: Critical Perspectives (Routledge, ); and the coeditor of “Resistance Everywhere”: The Gezi Protests and Dissident Visions of Turkey (JadMag Pedagogy Publication, ). His book Decolonize Multiculturalism was published with Or Books in . He is a coeditor of the ezine Jadaliyya and is on the faculty of the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research. During the – academic year, he was a member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study.  .  is a professor of English and the executive director of the Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University. Author of two poetry collections, Difficult Fruit (Peepal Tree Press, ) and Honeyfish (New Issues Press (US) & Peepal Tree Press (UK), ), as well as co-editor of Furious Flower: Seeding the Future of African American Poetry (Northwestern University Press, ), her work also has appeared in venues such as The New York Times, The Atlantic, sx salon, and The Caribbean Writer. Her most recent honors include nominations for the  NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Poetry, the  BOCAS Prize for Caribbean Literature, the  Library of Virginia Literary Awards, and a  Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia. Alleyne’s research explores enactments of interiority and subjectivity in Caribbean Literature.   is Associate Professor of Global Black Literatures in the Department of English at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Her research centers on the interplay of race, gender, and sexuality in xi

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Notes on Contributors

xii

post–World War II narratives of migration, including African Americans in Europe and Africa and African immigrants in Europe and the United States. She is the author of Postcolonial Paris: Fictions of Intimacy in the City of Light (University of Wisconsin Press, ), as well as of articles for American Literature, College Literature, and Culture, Theory, and Critique. She is currently at work on a book project about return in postcolonial and post-civil rights African Diasporic writing.   is Associate Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University and Director of the undergraduate program in Global Asia. She is the author of Better Britons: Reproduction, National Identity, and the Afterlife of Empire (University of Toronto, ) and is currently at work on a second SSHRC-funded book titled Archives of Intimacy: Racial Mixing and Asian Lives in the Colonial Port City. In recent years, she has published articles in Verge: Studies in Global Asia, the Journal of Asian American Studies, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, and Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas, and serves on the editorial board of Trans Asia Photography.    is Professor in the Department of Literatures in English at Cornell University, where she teaches Latinx Studies and Children’s Literature. Brady is the author of Extinct Lands, Temporal Geographies: Chicana Literature and the Urgency of Space (Duke University Press, ), which was awarded the Modern Language Association’s Prize for the Best Work of Latina/o and Chicana/o Literary and Cultural Criticism. She is also an associate editor of the sixth and seventh editions of the Heath Anthology of American Literature (Cengage) and is the editor of the ten-volume Gale Guide to th and st Century American Literature. An earlier essay, “The Contrapuntal Geographies of Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories,” published in American Literature in , won the Norman Foerster Prize for the best essay published in that journal for . Her most recent book is Scales of Captivity: Racial Capitalism and the Latinx Child (Duke University Press, ).   is Associate Professor of English at the University of Virginia and the author of In Stereotype: South Asia in the Global Literary Imaginary (Columbia University Press, ). Her essays on postcolonial literature, critical theory, and transnational racial and sexual formations appear in various edited collections and journals

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Notes on Contributors

xiii

such as PMLA, Modern Fiction Studies, Contemporary Literature, and differences. Her primary fields of research and teaching are postcolonial literature, with concentrations in comparative colonial studies, critical theory, and sexuality studies. She is working on two new books, provisionally titled The World Republic of Queer Letters and The Novel at the End of the World.  .  is Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Feldman’s first book, A Shadow over Palestine: The Imperial Life of Race in America (University of Minnesota Press, ), was named Best Book in Humanities and Cultural Studies by the Association for Asian American Studies. Feldman’s articles have appeared in numerous scholarly journals and several edited collections, including Critical Ethnic Studies (Duke University Press, ) and Sajjilu Arab American (Syracuse University Press, ). He edited a forum on “Blackness and Relationality” in Comparative Literature, coedited a special issue of Social Text on “Race/Religion/War,” and coedited the volume #identity: Hashtagging Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Nation (Michigan University Press, ).   is Professor of African American Studies and English at the University of California, Los Angeles, and editor of the journal Contemporary Literature. She is the author of Romance, Diaspora, and Black Atlantic Literature (Cambridge University Press, ) and Runaway Genres: The Global Afterlives of Slavery (New York University Press, ), which won the René Wellek Prize from the American Comparative Literature Association, the Perkins Prize from the International Society for the Study of Narrative, and honorable mention for the James Russell Lowell Prize from the Modern Language Association. She is also the guest editor of a special issue of Research in African Literatures () and editor of the Cambridge Companion to Transnational American Literature (Cambridge University Press, ). Past president of the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present, she has published widely on African diaspora, postcolonial, and American literature and is working on Aesthetics of Refuge, a monograph on twenty-first century refugee literature and culture.  .  is the Gladys Rehard Wood Professor of History and Classics Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. His books include Diaspora: Jews amidst Greeks and Romans (Harvard University Press, ), Rethinking the Other in Antiquity (Princeton University

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Notes on Contributors

Press, ), and Ethnicity in the Ancient World: Did It Matter? (De Gruyter, ). He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, and a recipient of the Austrian Cross of Honor for Arts and Letters. He has supervised or served on the dissertation committees of  students who received their PhD degrees.   is the author of Forms of a World: Contemporary Poetry and the Making of Globalization (Fordham University Press, ). He is also the translator, with Lindsay Turner, of Frédéric Neyrat’s Atopias: Manifesto for a Radical Existentialism (Fordham University Press, ). Hunter is the recipient of a South Carolina Arts Commission fellowship in poetry and a former Writer-in-Residence at the James Merrill House. His poems have appeared in The Atlantic, Boston Review, The Hopkins Review, Oversound, Literary Imagination, and other publications. Originally from Philadelphia, he holds an AB from Harvard College and a PhD from the University of Virginia. He is Associate Professor of English at Case Western Reserve University.   - is a Black feminist literary scholar and cultural critic who works at the intersection of race, gender, and justice. She is currently the director of Africana Studies, Dean’s Professor of Culture and Social Justice, and Professor of Africana Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Northeastern University. Her scholarship and teaching include expertise on Black France, SubSaharan Africa, Caribbean literature, Haiti, and the diaspora. She is the author of Conflict Bodies: The Politics of Rape Representation in the Francophone Imaginary (Ohio State University Press, ), A Trumpet of Conscience for the st Century: King’s Call to Justice (Orbis Press, ), and Looking for Other Worlds: Black Feminism, Literary Ethics, and Haitian Fiction (University of Virginia Press, ).   is Professor of Communication Studies at California State University, Northridge. She is the author of Postcolonial Grief: The Afterlives of the Pacific Wars in the Americas (Duke University Press, ) and coeditor of a special issue of Critical Ethnic Studies, “Interventions in Pacific Island and Trans-Pacific Studies” (). With the support of an NEH award, she is currently at work on her second book, Against Forgetting: Transpacific Feminisms for the Comfort Women.  .  is Assistant Professor of English and African American Studies at Northwestern University. His current book project,

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Breaking the World: Black Insecurity after the New World Order, explores the interpenetration of speculative fiction and security praxis to understand the underexamined connections between these two seemingly disparate archives. Bringing works by Octavia E. Butler, Colson Whitehead, N. K. Jemisin, and others into conversation with white papers, Breaking the World argues that Black speculation rejects the false promises of securitization by mobilizing insecurity as an alternative affective and ideological modality. His research has appeared in MELUS, Feminist Theory, Surveillance & Society, Feminist Studies, and avidly.com.  .  is Associate Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and the editor of sx salon: a small axe literary platform. She is primarily interested in Caribbean literature and culture, and has published articles in Sargasso, Wadabagei, Kunapipi, the Journal of West Indian Literature, and Small Axe. Her book Citizenship Under Pressure: The s in Jamaican Literature and Culture appeared from the University of the West Indies Press in . She is currently at work on a study of Caribbean family sagas.   is Associate Professor of English at Clemson University and the editor of Humanity journal, on behalf of the editorial collective. Her book, Salvage Work: U.S. and Caribbean Literatures amid the Debris of Legal Personhood (Fordham University Press, ) won the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present book prize and received honorable mention for the William Sanders Scarborough Award by the Modern Language Association. She is at work on two books, a monograph on twenty-first century literature, migration, and international law; and a co-authored book on refuge.  .  is Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. She is the author of two monographs, Caliban’s Curse: George Lamming and the Revisioning of History (University of Michigan Press, ) and Pathologies of Paradise: Caribbean Detours (University of Virginia Press, ). She is also coeditor of Postcolonialisms: An Anthology of Cultural Theory and Criticism (Rutgers University Press, ) and editor of Teaching Anglophone Caribbean Literature (Modern Language Association, ). Her research and teaching interests include postcolonial, feminist, diaspora (Caribbean, African, South Asian), and cultural studies.

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  studies twentieth- and twenty-first century American literature, specializing in Asian American and diasporic literature, refugee contexts, and environmental humanities. She is the author of America’s Vietnam: The Longue Durée of U.S. Literature and Empire (Temple University Press, ) and coeditor of Refugee Cultures: Forty Years after the Vietnam War (MELUS, ). Prior to Wesleyan, she spent time in New Orleans researching Vietnamese Americans pre- and post-Hurricane Katrina to understand intersections of race, disaster, and narrative form. Her next project, tentatively titled Refugee Ecologies, is based on this work and argues for ecocritical readings of refugee cultures.   is Professor of English and affiliated faculty of African and African Diaspora Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of Difficult Diasporas: The Transnational Feminist Aesthetic of the Black Atlantic (New York University Press, ) and Infamous Bodies: Early Black Women’s Celebrity and the Afterlives of Rights (Duke University Press, ). She also coedited Writing Beyond the State (Palgrave, ) with Alexandra S. Moore, and coedits the Duke University Press book series “Black Feminism on the Edge” with Jennifer Nash. She is currently working on a third book, Material and Metaphor, on race, embodiment, and scientific discourse in African American and African Diaspora culture, as well as a book on feminist ambivalence and on divorce.   is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Maryland–College Park. She has published two books, Engendering India: Woman and Nation in Colonial and Postcolonial Narratives (Duke University Press, ) and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak: In Other Words (Wiley-Blackwell, ). She has coedited the Companion to Postcolonial Studies (Blackwell, ) and the threevolume Encyclopedia of Postcolonial Studies (Wiley-Blackwell, ). Her book, Form Fitted: Postcolonial Aesthetics, Ethics, Politics, is forthcoming. She is currently working on a book on South Asian refugee literature in Bengali, English, Hindi, and in translation. She has published widely in key journals, given talks nationally and internationally, is the recipient of several grants, and serves on the editorial boards of important journals in the field. She has served as president of divisions in the MLA as well as on various committees for the MLA and ACLA. She has been a past president of the Cultural Studies Association and has served two terms on the supervisory board of the English Institute.

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She was president of ACLA from April  to April . At the University she served as Director of the Asian American Studies Certificate Program, Director of the Cultures of the Americas, College Park Scholars Program, as well as Director of Graduate Studies in the English Department.   is Lecturer/Assistant Professor in Postcolonial and Global Literatures at Maynooth University, Ireland. Among various other publications, she is the author of Monumental Space in the Post-Imperial Novel: An Interdisciplinary Study (Continuum, ; in paperback, Bloomsbury Academic, ) and of “Anticipating” the  Arab Uprisings: Revolutionary Literatures and Political Geographies (Palgrave, ); the coeditor of The Ethics of Representation in Literature, Art and Journalism: Transnational Responses to the Siege of Beirut (Routledge, ), and the codirector/coproducer of the RCUK-funded documentary on Beirut, White Flags (). Her recent and forthcoming publications, including a new monograph project, focus on (im)mobilities especially in relation to “necropolitics” across contemporary Arab literature.    is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at New York University. Her teaching and research address postcolonial cultural production, primarily from the Asia Pacific region; decolonization and the global Cold War; cities and urban development; and migration and movement. She is the author of two monographs: Cold War Reckonings: Authoritarianism and the Genres of Decolonization (Fordham University Press, , which received honorable mentions for both the ACLA’s René Wellek Prize and the MLA’s James Russell Lowell Prize) and The New Asian City: Three-Dimensional Fictions of Space and Urban Form (Minnesota University Press, ). She has also coedited, with Gary Wilder, The Postcolonial Contemporary: Political Imaginaries for the Global Present (Fordham University Press, ). She is currently working on another coedited volume, with Ato Quayson, on cities and world literature.

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Acknowledgments

With thanks to Ray Ryan for the invitation to edit a volume on diaspora and literary studies, and to Edgar Mendez and the entire Cambridge University Press team for bringing this project to publication. Anonymous reports on the proposal were helpful and generous. Shouhei Tanaka provided excellent assistance in copy editing and overall manuscript preparation, and Evelyn Grey prepared the index and bibliography with verve. The volume benefitted especially from conversations with friends, among them Yogita Goyal. Thanks also to Varty Komjian for conversations on the Arabic language and Syrian Armenian refugee diaspora. A chapter on Latinx literature and one on literature of the Armenian diaspora could not be completed due to the COVID- pandemic: I thank those authors as well. Very special gratitude goes to all the contributors who devoted their time and insights to rethinking diaspora across this bordered world. Manuscript preparation was supported by a Clemson University Faculty Research Grant. Poetry by Claudia Jones is reproduced in Chapter  from Claudia Jones: Beyond Containment with permission from Ayebia Clarke Publishing Limited, Banbury, Oxfordshire, UK. © Ayebia www.ayebia.co.uk.

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Introduction Diaspora and Literary Studies Angela Naimou

They said with wonder and admiration, you are still alive, like hydrogen, like oxygen. We all stood there for some infinite time. We did weep but that is nothing in comparison.

Dionne Brand, The Blue Clerk: Ars Poetica in  Versos

My memory is a pomegranate. Shall I open it over you and let it scatter, seed by seed: red pearls befitting a farewell that asks nothing of me except forgetfulness? Mahmoud Darwish, In the Presence of Absence

Any study of diaspora contends with scattering and gathering as both abstraction and experience. Conceived as an ongoing relationship between human dispersion and the making of culture, art, and politics, diaspora may name “a people, process, encounter, ambition, and project,” as Shana L. Redmond notes in reference to the African diaspora. Within this series of terms, each acts upon the others through practices of differentiation and coconstitution, invention and revision. The concept of diaspora works in this interplay between a search for cohesion-in-fragmentation and a resistance to coercive unities or fractures – political, aesthetic, economic, cultural, historical, psychic, erotic. While “a diaspora” is most commonly understood as “a people” scattered, with ongoing attachments to an original homeland and each other, the concept of diaspora complicates lines of affiliation. For many artists and writers who understand themselves as living in diaspora or being part of a diaspora, the promise of diasporic literature and culture is not to stabilize a minority identity but to engage with the complexities of living in the world diaspora makes. Diasporic as a concept draws us to think about the deep relationality of the world: it has led to inexhaustible creativity with language and form and a multifarious body of thought on the methods and purpose of literary studies. Diaspora and Literary Studies devotes significant attention to the historical contexts of diaspora theory and to its renewed critical edge in twenty-first 

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century scholarship. The volume makes three distinct contributions: it reframes the origin stories of major diaspora literary traditions within new work on histories of migration and sovereignty, literary geographies, and futurisms (Part I); it offers contextualized readings of major concepts in diaspora literature and theory explored through intimacies, entanglements, and other figures of relation (Part II); and it turns to close analysis of literary texts and visual cultures to theorize diaspora through genre, gender, and genealogies (Part III). Each chapter offers an original and specific account of diaspora, within and beyond the literary field. Variously conceived across innumerable reference points and situations, diaspora continues to be a contested and necessary idea, one resistant to consolidation. The contributors in the volume use an array of methods for reflecting on the conditions, modes, histories, epistemologies, and affective responses to diaspora that make and shape literature and culture. The volume thus does not aim to provide a representative sampling of approaches to diaspora literatures, as a large body of scholarship exists devoted to particular diaspora literary traditions and has moreover experienced an energetic proliferation of categories that have unfastened traditional parameters and routes deemed diasporic. Nor does the volume survey literary-theoretical approaches to diaspora, as several critical readers and introductions to theory explain established concepts and methods. Diaspora and Literary Studies aims to generate new critical accounts of diaspora through a more flexible interplay across subjects and methods. Diaspora throws prevailing world arrangements into stark relief and rearranges conceptions of war and empire, settlement and sovereignty, border regimes and environmental ecologies, exploitation and freedom, and securitization and resistance. Migration, so core to the concept of diaspora, continues to be reimagined by writers whose lived intimacies with refuge, mobility, detention, settlement, and deportability elicit new forms of creative work and thought. Diaspora has been formative to the study of migration and borders while also a major object of critique and even challenge. This dynamic relationship is an underacknowledged critical frame for debates over postcolonial, world, and global literature; for studies of literature and the environment; and for the renewed attention to refugee, exile, settler, and migrant aesthetics. As several chapters demonstrate, the volume contributes to a shift in diaspora studies toward understanding art and life across a world of bordering practices and the subjectivities engendered by mobility and legality. This shift participates in calls to historicize the coloniality of twenty-first century border regimes as an infrastructure of racism. As

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Hagar Kotef puts it in her study of mobility and immobility in liberal political thought and in the structuring of spaces through the regulation of movement, “movement is the order of things.” Theorizing diaspora since the twentieth century has involved thinking of finely-textured experiences in crossings and confinements, already long part of critical ethnic studies and postcolonial and anticolonial literature and thought. Such a task now involves bringing diaspora into sharper relation with work on the global border regime as propelled by international law but instantiated in ideas, practices, laws, effects, and imaginings of migration and removal. Taken together, the chapters in this volume provide a serious and provocative exploration of diaspora as a vital, ever-changing resource for literary studies in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Diaspora, translated as “dispersion” or “scattering,” pulls together a minimum of three concepts that comprise it: the concept of a people, or a recognizable collectivity; the concept of home, as the making of habitable space and place across geopolitical territory; and the concept of memory, which involves an intimate and collective relationship to experience and to ideas of time and space. Diaspora remakes space and place; it paradoxically recalibrates time by showing that standard time markers fail to correspond to the fuller complexities of temporality, from what Achille Mbembe calls “the time of entanglement,” as an “interlocking of presents, pasts, and futures that retain their depths of other pasts, presents, and futures” to Dionne Brand’s poetics as diacritic force “registering the sounds of our living in the diaspora, the sounds of the always possible world-space one lives;” Christina Sharpe’s tracing of “residence time;” and Michelle M. Wright’s reworking of linear narrative temporality in terms of global Blackness. Memory is the fruit of clustered moments, in Mahmoud Darwish’s poetry, red arils to be scattered in a ritual for dispersing memories. Diaspora has been crucial to theorizing what Lisa Lowe and Kris Manjapra call an analytic of relation, which has at the same time revitalized and redirected the study of diaspora. In theorizing the coloniality of power, world systems theory, or, following Édouard Glissant, a poetics of relation as an open totality formed from the wounds of history, a wide range of scholars have explored how relationality, intimacies, and entanglements “intervene into the epistemological, ontological, and aesthetic norms that have been practiced in the humanities.” In this way, the relationality of diaspora can be a method of scholarship and a poetics that provides an alternative to the coloniality of knowledge. It could be a statement on the conceptual promise of diaspora in our present: diaspora not primarily as a question of returning home, a question that continues to

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resound globally and across generations of dispersion, but as a return conceptually to the most vigorous insights of diaspora.

Diaspora’s Origin Stories Most scholars agree that diaspora first appears in the Septuagint, the translation into Greek of Hebraic religious texts by Jewish scholars in Alexandria in the third century BCE. Sociologist Stéphane Dufoix has written a detailed history of the word and its development as a concept. Against the “false origins” that have circulated in diaspora studies scholarship since its rapid growth in the s, Dufoix confirms that “Διασπορά (diasporá) is a Greek word, constructed from the Greek verb διασπείρω (diaspeírô: dia- as in ‘through or over’ and -speiro, ‘sow or scatter’)”: it means “dispersion” or “scattering.” Unlike the verb form, which could be used neutrally or positively, as in the sowing of seed, diaspora in the Septuagint was used in the translation of several different Hebrew words, most importantly to describe God’s threat to cause a dispersion or scattering. Dufoix notes, “Diaspora is the word of chastisement, but the dispersion in question has not occurred yet: it is potential, conditional upon the Jews not respecting the law of God. If that occurred, it would be God who would disperse, but it would also be He who regathered the dispersed.” The use of the concept of diaspora was limited for centuries and would undergo many changes in meanings from its appearance in the Septuagint before it became a fields-defining concept for twentieth-century scholarship and literature. It would for example become associated not with the threat but with the experience of Jewish exile; and it would (however inaccurately) expand to characterize the long arcs of Jewish migrations and conditions of exile and minority status loosely evocative (however imprecisely) of galuth. The origin stories of the word thus encapsulate the basic elements for diaspora and literary studies: a homeland, a powerful actor (political if no longer divine), a migration threatened and inflicted upon a collective, a settling elsewhere with a sense of loss and suffering. Dispersion rearranges relationships and generates new attachments; it becomes a recursive condition of memory, culture, and politics across generations. Established origin stories of dispersion hold within themselves the desire to unravel and form other arrangements through diasporic relationality. The story of the origins of diaspora, as word or identity category, seems nonetheless to promise the concept some measure of cohesion and

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consistency. In the twentieth century, diaspora’s origin stories became a crucial touchstone for art and thought on collective survival and grief from forced migrations. Early African diaspora writing from the United States linked the African diaspora to Biblical narratives of Jewish exile and sanctuary, one of many possible ways to narrate a worldwide diaspora traced from the Atlantic slave trade and the earlier East African or Indian Ocean slave trades. Writings of the Jewish diaspora after World War II grappled with the complex politics of memory, loss, and language in the aftermath of catastrophe and decolonization, a diaspora whose fuller complexity comes into view in diasporic, colonial, and postcolonial literature by Arab–Jewish and anti-colonial writers in Palestine, the Maghreb, and elsewhere. Twentiethcentury literature of the Armenian diaspora, too, formed itself around the survival of catastrophe (from Ottoman-era pogroms to the deportation, starvation, and massacre of Armenians by the Turkish state); the international denial of genocide and justice; and later the Armenian national liberation movement. As twentieth-century diasporic literary cultures cohered around an originary historical catastrophe and international abandonment, they also found in literary expression a resistance to making literature a tomb of memory, or a formative migration the first and last to be told. There is a philosophy of world history and a repertoire of reading practices in diaspora literature and theory: one task of literary studies is to pay attention to the ideas and reading practices that shaped why and how we recognize diaspora. In his essay on the state of Armenian diaspora literature, for instance, the poet Vahé Oshagan seeks to shake the literary projects of the Armenian diaspora loose from some of the baggage of diaspora and literary studies, such as the relative marginalization of Armenian diaspora writers outside the United States and Europe, who may be in Syria or Iran, writing in Armenian or Arabic or Farsi. Oshagan calls our attention to presumptive meanings of a particular diaspora that yield prescriptive ideas about literary and scholarly production. Setting Armenian literature in its longer timespan, more than  years of writing and migration, Oshagan also reflects on how writers are themselves limited by their lived position as diasporic writers writing in their own moment and for the future, hemmed in by “the obligation to defend national institutions and traditions” and “the duty to have a strong commitment toward national ideals in order to ensure the survival of Armenian literature and, consequently, their own survival as well. And all this without surrendering the freedom of judgment, of expression, and of dissent.”

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Such burdens of diaspora are often imposed on the writer. Poet and scholar Iman Mersal challenges such an imposition when she asks: “Is diaspora only a search for identity? Is it not also a refusal of identity amid a surplus of identity?” Mersal draws from Edward Said and Gayatri Spivak to analyze the situated moments in the lives of “Arab diaspora writers,” triangulating herself between Jibran Khalil Jibran’s navigation of early s Orientalism and Muslim “reformer” Irshad Manji’s uses of post-/ neo-Orientalist writing. Documenting the burden of being identified as a diasporic writer, Mersal reflects on diaspora as a concept that gains meaning not through etymology but through its uses within hegemonic literary culture, beset as it is by stereotypes of race, gender, nation, and colonialism. She is variously interpolated as an Arab Muslim diasporic “poetess,” and hence gets misheard or misunderstood in university classrooms, poetry festival interviews, and community readings. Putting the question of diaspora to us again, this time in the hope of finding an escape route from the traps of minority diasporic identity, Mersal asks: “What is the hidden life or subjectivity that remains unseen in diaspora? How can one negotiate being a member of a larger collectivity that cannot or will not make this distinction between outsider and representative?” The many origin stories of diaspora hold the many seeds of questions about the futures of diaspora and diasporic literatures.

Definitions Internationalized, Intimate, Entangled The idea and experience of dispersion have long generated literary, psychic, and political imaginaries and imagined geographies propelled by nostalgia and grief, language and translation, affiliation and disidentification, historical trauma and desire. But it is only in the late twentieth century that diaspora studies, so named, became an established and influential field of study across the humanities, arts, and social sciences. Three major overlapping approaches have shaped diaspora studies since its proliferation in the s: one, coming primarily from the social sciences, has been invested in defining diaspora as it operates in everyday life. This approach explores how diaspora structures human groupings in the world: it develops conceptual frameworks both to distinguish diaspora from related key concepts (globalization, migration, transnationalism) and to analyze diasporic production vis-à-vis particular cultural and political phenomena (remittances, opposition politics, foodways, language). A second approach explores diasporic cultural and political production that has variously challenged hegemonic orders and systems of

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domination. Generated in strands of Black, critical ethnic, Indigenous, transnational feminist, queer, Marxist, anti-colonial, and postcolonial thought, this approach attends to the politics of diaspora as linked to the study of oppression and liberation. A third approach concentrates on literature and the arts as crucial to the conceptual and cultural workings of diaspora. It explores the aesthetic practices and categories of literary formation that comprise diaspora as an assemblage of meanings and practices. This approach, of course not singular but involving a wide repertoire of scholarly practices, acknowledges the tension formed by the first two approaches. Pulling in one direction to form this tension is the desire for stabilized meanings to assign to literary formations and authorship, as evinced by questions about the criteria and meaning of diasporic literature (what makes an author, and their literary works, diasporic – theme, form, language, cultural authenticity, author heritage, nationality?). Pulling in other directions are commitments to reckon with historical violence through formal innovation, to study the complicated internationalism of writers and artists in diaspora, and to trace a diasporic literary imagination that conceives of diaspora as especially alive to world historical intimacies and entanglements. Such a tension has been generative for theorizing diaspora in literary studies, as with Brent Hayes Edwards’s The Practice of Diaspora: Literature, Translation, and the Rise of Black Internationalism (), a fields-changing study of diaspora as a set of complex textual practices in the making of s and s black internationalist print culture. At times this methodological tension has been released altogether, along with the presumed centrality or exceptionality of diaspora, in ways that have made major contributions to the concept of diaspora by scholars including Saidiya Hartman, Marianne Hirsch, Svetlana Boym, Diana Taylor, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Vijay Mishra, Gloria Anzaldúa, Audre Lorde, Chela Sandoval, Kandice Chuh, and many others whose work dwells on the intimate and public relationships that the living form with historical loss, with the transnational archives of violence, with the dead and the imagined future generations, that together suffuse our lived present. Diaspora theory thus contends with intersecting problems: how to define diaspora as distinct from other concepts, how to construct genealogies of diaspora as an anticolonial project, and how to study diasporic literature and culture through historically informed ideas of relation. Conceiving of diaspora involves some reflection on the coloniality of knowledge production. A brief, necessarily incomplete sketch of these approaches may be helpful before turning to the specific contributions of the volume.

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Diaspora Defined The concept of diaspora has been deployed at times to confound basic categories of identity, nation, and state; and at other times to reaffirm the integrity of those categories. Social sciences scholarship on diaspora in the s was generally concerned with formalizing diaspora as a stabilizable concept and category of analysis, held distinct from related concepts of migration, ethnicity, sovereignty, transnationalism, and globalization. Some theories have developed complex criteria to distinguish different types of diasporas from each other: these schemas go beyond the basic definition of a people scattered from the so-called nation or place of origin who maintain attachments across regions of settlement. As definitions circulated and competed for explanatory power in the post–Cold War context of the s, diaspora scholarship sometimes weathered contradictory winds. Diaspora has since taken on an array of meanings in state and international policy, including this strategic gloss by the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development: Diaspora: A community of people who live outside their country of origin and maintain a connection to their homeland or ancestry. Diaspora communities often remain emotionally and financially connected to their home communities. Migrant workers are also included within the category of diaspora.

The efforts to gain conceptual cohesion and clarity was in part a response to the proliferation of diaspora as a term that took root seemingly anywhere but leafed out with different meanings everywhere. Diaspora, adapted for global capital to include the “flows” of people as well as the capital, services, and goods of diasporic subjects, became an important financial sector for states and NGOs in the “bid to harness diaspora capital.” In the Caribbean, for example, this “nascent diasporic governmentality” is in part a story of the out-migration since the s that came out of the “economic dislocation” caused by the implementation of neoliberal structural adjustment policies in the region. Alissa Trotz and Beverley Mullings historicize Caribbean studies scholarship on diaspora in order to examine the relationship between academic knowledge production on diaspora and the so-called diaspora option studied by policymakers, such as the World Bank and cooperating state players, to recast the uses of diaspora in workers’ provision of capital for debt repayment, development projects, and a permanent portion of states’ GDP. Trotz and Mullings thus offer a provocation to “think reflexively about how our

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institutional intellectual projects are implicated in the current romance with diaspora,” making the important observation that “the purchase of diaspora in our world today thus requires us to carefully and precisely specify who is invoking it, under what conditions, in what ways, and to what ends.” Widely cited and nearly as widely criticized, Arjun Appadurai’s analysis of a shrinking or borderless world in Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization () redefined the meanings of diaspora within his concept of ever-increasing transnational flows in media, technology, and capital, along with the presumed weakening of the state in an increasingly globalized modernity. Such work underscores both the unresolved meanings and uses of diaspora as well as the need to historicize the multidirectional effects of diaspora theory in the study of literature, culture, and society. For scholars in literary studies, social sciences, and the humanities, diaspora studies scholarship is not entirely separable from the broader uses and misuses of diaspora in international economic and political projects (including projects initiated within diasporas, as when diasporic opposition groups cooperate with states to effect changes “back home,” in the form of wars, coups, sanctions, and economic policy targeting Global South countries with humanitarian or even democratic frames. The effort to stabilize the meanings of diaspora more often led to a reflection on the diaspora concept as inevitably provisional and resistant to fixed criteria. Since its launch in , Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies helped make diaspora studies a recognizable interdisciplinary field, and many of the debates over the boundaries of the concept have unfolded in those pages over the decades. Its founding editor, Khachig Tölölyan, frequently reflected on the changing meaning and function of diaspora, as when he asks how “a term once saturated with the meanings of exile, loss, dislocation, powerlessness and plain pain” could morph into “a useful, even desirable way to describe a range of dispersions” in the high point of celebratory transnationalism. Meanwhile, Avtar Brah proposed the concept of “diaspora space” in her reflections on the relationship between diaspora and intersectional concepts of law, class, and migration, with the “meanings of words such as migrant, immigrant, expatriate, refugee, guest worker and exile.” “Surely,” Brah writes, “diaspora cannot replace these categories;” nonetheless, “it does clearly displace them.” Diaspora is, as Stuart Hall says of cultural identity more broadly, “subject to the continuous ‘play’ of history, culture and power.” This insight, with the trauma of colonial experience and the cultural politics of

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postcolonial migration at the forefront, was elaborated across a range of dissident approaches to knowledge production: anti-colonial, postcolonial, Marxist, and Third World feminist thought; US-centered critical ethnic studies; and, of course, Black British cultural studies. A distinct shift away from foregrounding colonial and capitalist dynamics in the study of diaspora came with the turn to liberal multiculturalism in the s and s. Liberal multiculturalism and certain strands of postcolonial theory, particularly in US and Global North contexts, tended to highlight the cultural, subjective, and aesthetic meanings of diaspora, sometimes by implicitly delinking culture, subjectivity, and aesthetics from its relationship to power and history. Such frameworks for teaching and scholarship in literary studies contended with hegemonic versions of globalization and methodological nationalism in various ways, thus underscoring, implicitly or explicitly, the concept of diaspora as a necessary and urgent response to the interrelations of the present. Diaspora could sometimes name and incorporate difference in a way that aligned with the power structures and popular culture versions of globalization at the end of the Cold War. Consider the thought of black internationalist US writers Ida B. WellsBarnett, Anna Julia Cooper, and W. E. B. Du Bois: although their work theorized the African diaspora within the colonial–racial nexus of profit and domination, their writings could and often continue to be fitted in a conventionally national frame, setting aside Du Bois’s reminder that “the color line belts the world.” Diasporic actors have organized under various and competing political projects, nationalist, repressive, and otherwise: such heterogeneous politics loom large within many diasporic communities, sometimes propelled by the desire to end diaspora, understood in that sense as a condition of exile for a particular group to overcome. There also exist named diasporas presented in literary anthologies as if they were closed circles of community to be protected from the risks of cultural inquiry from outsiders or dissent from within. Such singular and managed presentations of diaspora are difficult to reconcile with the cosmic knots and frays in its making. Diaspora was also a key concept for the turn since the s to cosmopolitanism, an idea and philosophy credited to fourth century BCE Greek philosopher Diogenes the Cynic in the proclamation of himself as a citizen of the world (kosmo-polites), a term later taken up in European Enlightenment thought. Reenvisioned and hotly debated as a genealogy of modernity and an ethics for shared humanity, cosmopolitanism for some scholars promised a counter to the violence of economic

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globalization and nationalist militarism. Others found cosmopolitanism in philosophical traditions outside Europe, forming new genealogies of the human suppressed or excluded. Whether conceived through the elite cosmopolitan intellectual in exile or through a cosmopolitanism from below, rooted in quotidian life and guided in the understanding that we are all responsible to each other through a radical loyalty to all humanity on a shared planet, cosmopolitanism concerns itself with human movement and memory as its conditions of possibility. Beneath the “fact of globalization” and to the side of nationalist versions of multiculturalism, then, ideas such as Kwame Anthony Appiah’s “partial cosmopolitanism” describe diaspora not as an exceptional condition marked only by its difference from a normative condition of rootedness but by thinking about cosmopolitanism as “the name not of the solution but of the challenge,” one whose invitation requires us to think about the everyday transnational movements and cohabitation of people in all their nearly limitless variations for living.

Anti-colonial Internationalism Twenty-first century upheavals, particularly the so-called global war on terror and intensified environmental violence, shook diaspora studies loose from some of the preoccupations over definitional criteria and celebratory diasporic flows. Multiculturalism was inadequate to understanding ethnonationalist violence, and flows could not describe the violence of state and international arrangements that make places unlivable while accommodating the capture, detention, and removal of people on the move. In many ways, earlier challenges to the assumed unity and coherence of identity categories gained a renewed significance, as postcolonial, queer, transnational feminist, Black, and critical ethnic studies scholars theorized how cultural and racial logics of both the homeland and hostland inform the ways diasporic groups get identified, experience their marked or unmarked differences, and fashion new creative modes of being in the world. Lisa Lowe delinks diaspora from the presumptive desire for a stable, essentialist cultural identity when she writes of diaspora as involving “a spectrum of positions that includes, at one end, the desire for a cultural identity represented by a fixed profile of traits and, at the other, challenges to the notion of singularity and conceptions of race as the material locus of differences, intersections, and incommensurabilities.” Lowe lists, for example, the construction of a category called “Asian American” from “Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Thai, or

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Cambodian” immigrants that, as different as their migrations were, cannot be reduced to those conditions. And, as scholars of Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Laotian refugee diasporas have shown, more descriptive categories only further underscore the need for recognizing the complex heterogeneity within any category, and the active theorization each category offers in unraveling ideas of nationalism, the state, refuge, and the politics of citizenship, statelessness, and removal, for understanding diaspora. Such work has been underway in Asian American studies and critical migration studies for decades, leading to institutional efforts such as the Critical Refugee Studies Collective, an interdisciplinary group of scholars whose collaborations center refugees and refugee lifeworlds, knowledge, and aesthetics. As theories of diaspora ascertain relationships between literary and cultural production and the effects of global systems on lived experience, they have participated in a broader pattern of scholarship that tries to think with relationality rather than despite it. Relationality complicates ideas of collective identity and national belonging while it opens up other ways for making sense of diaspora and collective futures, such as between movement, settlement, return, memory, embodiment, and residence. In a way, these developments return the concept of diaspora to basic questions of freedom, oppression, mobility, and solidarity. Robin D. G. Kelley offers a wry description on the decade of small storms created around definitional debates in diaspora and globalization theory in his  essay “‘But a Local Phase of a World Problem’: Black History’s Global Vision, –”: I am intrigued by recent discussions of how “globalization” has pushed United States scholars to think beyond the nation-state, develop “transnational” and international approaches, and reconsider “diaspora” as an analytical framework [. . .]. Black studies, Chicano/a studies, and Asian American studies were diasporic from their inception, a direct outgrowth of the social movements of the late s and early s that gave birth to those programs. Whether they are speaking of borderlands, migrations, or diasporas, ethnic studies scholars examine the hyphen between places of “origin” and America.

In response to the call to “internationalize American history,” Kelley looks to the earlier traditions of African diaspora historiography as a project of writing “black and brown peoples at the center of world history” and, more pointedly, as a “fulcrum in world politics and political economy.” Informed by this approach, Edwards’s The Practice of Diaspora theorized

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diaspora as a textual politics of working along the edges of difference, approaching diaspora as a set of practices in collaboration and translation that would transform understandings of the Harlem Renaissance from a national literary achievement to a transnational print culture of black internationalism between the two world wars. Diaspora, as a claim and practice that cannot rest in the presumptive sameness of an identity category, is always a question, invitation, and task of relation. Diaspora cannot live in the simple present tense, but it can map histories of feeling, knowing, making, and looking obscured by prevailing political and social arrangements. Theorizing Diaspora (), edited by Anita Mannur and Jana Evans Braziel, compiled key writings on diaspora and contextualized them, underscoring the importance of transnational feminist and queer theoretical frameworks for diaspora theory. Responding to the oft-noted fact that, by the end of the s, the word diaspora could be used in reference to nearly anyone and anything (such as tech commodities), Mannur and Braziel argued for a use of the term with flexibility but also coherence, retaining the historical and political contexts of what is a descriptor of human experience informed by postcolonial thought. Historicizing diaspora in the context of Lebanon, the anthropologist Ghassan Hage proposes an understanding that “diaspora is a way of being in the world and a way in which the world comes to be.” The particular diasporic culture in his ethnographic work on Lebanese families is not one guided by a Left internationalism but rather a hegemonic transnational idea nurtured by the Lebanese state, as part of state investment in the cultural ideas of diaspora that has yielded remittances as a major portion of its GDP. In his study of Lebanese families from a small village with an outsized diaspora, Hage observes a shared capacity of relatives to see themselves in the world and of the world, as entrepreneurs or, as Hage observes, as postcolonial settler colonialists who end up taking the scraps of imperial conquest, content with not a country but with employment in a neighborhood convenience store owned by a wealthier relative in the diaspora. Being diaspora – being “Lebanese in the world” – thus begins in Lebanon itself. Hage reads this diasporic culture “as a form of colonial gleaning,” a negotiation of diasporic subjects “infused with an ethos resembling that of settler colonialists, only to settle for the crumbs, leftovers, and marginal spaces within already colonized nations.” It amounts to a nearly-state sponsored diasporic culture coconstituted by Lebanese capitalist modernity, oriented to national identity partly through

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mythic connection to the seafaring Phoenicians of antiquity. Diasporic subjectivities form before leaving one’s home, and Brah’s concept of diaspora space – as involving the “entanglement of genealogies of dispersion with those of ‘staying put’” – becomes a national strategy of the postcolonial state, in which the “desire for moving into the world is haunted by its opposite: a desire to remain and valorize home.” We know that it is not the mere act of migration but crucially the regimes framing and organizing residence, movement, separation, and settlement that can be world-rupturing for diasporic subjectivities. The complex history of stateless Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, and more recently the many people from Iraq and Syria displaced by war, cannot dwell in this same national diaspora space as the families Hage follows. It’s left to works such as Etel Adnan’s short novel Sitt Marie Rose, organized as a rotation of multiple narrators involved in the murder of Marie Rose Boulos, a Syrian-Lebanese teacher targeted for her work with Palestinian refugees during the Lebanese Civil War, to probe the psychic complexity formed in the recesses of diaspora space. And we know that border regimes, formed along the ruts of empire, propel people into new forms of solidarity and memory that may suggest cultures of diaspora formed from their shared experiences of migration – where one might form attachments to those who have survived coerced, suppressed, or illegalized migrations and remain disconnected from a neighbor who shared a figurative “home” country but who traveled along different routes.

Intimacies and Entanglements Diaspora is a form and practice of relation, knitting together webs of subjectivity, domesticity, foreignness, embodiment, spacetime. As the metaphors of intimacy and entanglement have become key concepts for literary and cultural theories that move through and beyond relationality, they reattune scholars to aesthetic and political potentialities of diaspora. Recalling Rey Chow’s uses of entanglement as “a topological looping together that is at the same time an enmeshment of topics” and as “a figure for meetings that are not necessarily defined by proximity or affinity” but through partition, partiality, disparity, and through the act of capture, we might recognize the concept of diaspora threaded throughout major concepts in literary and cultural criticism more broadly. Intimacy and entanglement thus offer supple conceptual frameworks for critical engagements with the accretion of colonial and nationalist regimes and the creative acts of relation they generate.

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In The Intimacies of Four Continents, Lowe refers to the residual meanings of intimacy as the “implied but less visible forms of alliance, affinity, and society among variously colonized peoples beyond the metropolitan national center.” In looking to “the circuits, connections, associations, and mixings of differentially laboring peoples” in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Lowe provides a genealogy of political liberalism that is also an exploration of the diasporic intimacies obscured by modern knowledge production: settler colonialism in the Americas, the transatlantic African slave trade, and the East Indies and China trades in indentured labor. Gayatri Gopinath draws from Lowe’s concept of intimacies and its critical genealogy of liberalism for her study, Unruly Visions: The Aesthetic Practices of Queer Diaspora (), an exploration of the intimacies of queer Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern, and African literary and visual art diasporas obscured or remaindered by heteronormative models of diaspora. Expanding Brah’s concept of “diaspora space” so that diaspora may be subnational, intraregional, and thoroughly national in ways that have been overlooked in major theories of diaspora, Gopinath argues that the micropolitical and transregional aesthetic practices of queer diaspora “both make apparent and instantiate the intimacy of fields of thought, historical formations, geographic areas, and temporal frames conventionally viewed as discrete and distinct.” Mapping the “indiscreteness” of diasporic histories, spaces, and temporalities through a backward gaze toward inter-regional aesthetic practices of queer diaspora, Gopinath elaborates: The aesthetic practices of queer diaspora conjure these minor histories into being and make them apparent. Their value lies in their ability to demand that we look beyond the main event and instead become attuned to submerged and forgotten modes of longing, desire, affiliation, and embodiment that may in fact allow us to envision an alternative present and future. As such, these aesthetic practices enact a queer mode of critique that demands a retraining of our vision and a reattunement of our senses, and in so doing point to the limits of the entire apparatus of vision that is the inheritance of colonial modernity.

Thinking in terms of intimacies involves a reflection on the problems that disciplinary method and domains of knowledge production have posed to the study of diasporic subjectivities and to the ideas and aesthetic practices of freedom that have formed under prevailing world arrangements – including those yet to be surfaced, remembered, and openly desired. Chapters in this volume take up a wide range of contemporary writings and transmedial works across a diverse cultural geography to examine

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diasporic aesthetic practices in relation to global border regimes, carcerality, land seizures, and state “internal” displacements. They explore conceptions of diaspora organized around the intimacies formed in refuge and expulsion. These chapters draw from important strands of scholarship in the social sciences and humanities that understand diaspora as a necessary and vexatious concept for our time. In a reflection on Black and Jewish solidarities, Keith Feldman offers a poetic equation to define diaspora: “Diaspora is distance plus practice, entangled in mediated scenes, messy, lived.” If anything is shared across the many-threaded lives of diaspora, it is the intimacies and entanglements of a world made in dispersion, where the lived and imagined possibilities for a future cast from loss (and sometimes vexing forms of gain) trouble and move us, as possibilities that take the insistent shape of a question: “an open horizon.” This volume does not seek to redefine diaspora so as to complete “partitions [of] the same conceptual terrain again and again.” Rather, the volume contributes a critical attention to the links, intimacies, assemblages, entanglements, and solidarities that bring diaspora into lived and changing formations. One hope for the volume is that it underscores the need to delink diaspora and diasporic literature from approaches that flatten contexts or confine diaspora to a bounded context, as both modes deny the relationality of diaspora as concept and lived practice. Each chapter contributes to new directions in diaspora and literary studies that importantly reassess earlier approaches to the use and practice of diaspora and draw from sometimes divergent methods and literary formations. The volume comes at a time when the study of diaspora brings new pressures and possibilities to literature and thought: when human and ecological futures under the existing world framework have become so bleak for many as to become an open question. It is a time that calls for a fuller conversation on diaspora within literary studies scholarship, generating new questions for core concepts – among them, how to continually salvage from the ruins of the present, rework ideas of identity and collectivity, and respond to regimes that strategically manage human movement and residence, rooted in the claim to sovereignty and its possession of ground and boundary. At the same time, the manifold everyday violence produced by longstanding world arrangements has revitalized transnational solidarity movements and freedom struggles against injustice: they are finding languages and making forms for a diasporic imagination in twenty-first century thought. In this way, diaspora studies is reconnecting to earlier

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literary and political currents of diaspora’s “global vision” or critical internationalism and its formation through intimacies and entanglements. As Shana L. Redmond recalls of Cedric Robinson’s writing on the “common task” and “shared vision” of the peoples of Africa and the African diaspora, it is the integration of a global experience that makes diaspora not “a tomb of dead practices but a canvas of invention that will hold the futures expressed and impressed on it, whatever they may be.” Diaspora reminds us that a future dwells in all temporalities. Or, as Sylvia Wynter affirms, following Fanon’s note that “man is what brings society into being”: “Human beings are magical. Bios and Logos. Words made flesh, muscle and bone animated by hope and desire [. . .] And the maps of spring always have to be redrawn again, in undared forms.”

Chapter Outline Every chapter in the volume reflects on diaspora and literary studies as held together in a complex relation. Readers are encouraged to read as many chapters as possible to explore the ways that chapters could be brought together, as arranged by commonalities of method, geography, topics, history, form and genre, and cultural archive. Part I The first section of this volume takes up a set of core terms in the study of diaspora (origins, home and homeland, expulsion, displacement, resettlement, return, belonging, and desire refashioned across place and time) in order to reassess diaspora as a conceptual framework for literary studies. Each chapter provides a sweeping historical and/or literary historical view of major diasporic literary traditions and theories of diaspora, while arguing for new ways to think about them. Erich S. Gruen (Chapter ) complicates the origin story of diaspora as forced migration from the biblical narratives of Babylonian exile. As Gruen demonstrates, these narratives of Jewish expulsion, so central to modern conceptions of diaspora as involving a painful loss of homeland, a longing for return, and stark choices between isolation or assimilation in alien lands, did not reflect the actual everyday conditions of Jews living outside Judaea in the ancient Mediterranean. Working with textual and archaeological evidence from the Greco-Roman world, including Hellenistic Jewish writing, Gruen offers a different picture of Jewish minority experience than has been presumed in diaspora scholarship: one in which

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Jewish diaspora experience was largely productive and stable, and where Jews negotiated between their minority status and the literary, cultural, political, and economic milieu of places they called home. Such an account of Jewish diaspora in antiquity has far-reaching implications for rethinking accounts of diaspora. Supriya M. Nair (Chapter ) reflects on the relationship between diaspora (as forced expulsion and resettlement) and identity or subject formation in Afro- and Indo-Caribbean fiction and life writing. Questioning the conventional centrality of nostalgia and loss to the concept of diasporic identity, Nair reads the cross-genre writings of Gaiutra Bahadur, Stuart Hall, and Caryl Phillips as reflections on the multiplicity of diasporic journeys toward and from the Caribbean. Nair shows how these texts ultimately decline the closed circuit of nostalgic return to the homeland, even in the context of the Atlantic slave trade and the traffic in indentured laborers across the Indian Ocean, in order to imagine a more open, relational, and potentially affirmative process of diasporic subject formation as self-transformation, a rerouting of self and community across multiple desires, temporalities, and geographies of home. Régine Michelle Jean-Charles (Chapter ) concentrates on the multiple meanings of home, rendered through the Haitian Kreyól word lakay, to show how Haitian cultural production extends theories of diaspora and literary critical methods. Conceptualizing diaspora as process and project, Jean-Charles builds on the work of Robin D. G. Kelley, Tiffany Patterson, and Shana L. Redmond to reflect on the genres of home in the Haitian context. Through readings of lakay in a novel by Marie-Célie Agnant, short stories by Edwidge Danticat, and a song by Emeline Michel, JeanCharles shows how lakay becomes a way to theorize diaspora and the methods of diasporic cultural criticism as a multilingual, multigeneric process, condition, and project. Jean-Charles thus offers a model for theorizing diaspora as a project that happens in spaces, places, languages, and longings, toward the making and remaking of lakay. Sangeeta Ray (Chapter ) reassesses diaspora as a prevailing analytic rubric for the study of South Asian anglophone literature. The chapter considers what gets left out and what gets reconfigured when diaspora becomes the reigning paradigm for understanding the long and deep history of South Asian literature in English as well as its future. Offering an account of diaspora as elaborated within a postcolonial literary criticism itself informed by South Asian anglophone novels, Ray contends that an uncritical reliance on the diaspora paradigm risks overlooking the deep and varied engagement with history, form, and politics in South Asian anglophone novels. In a

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wide-ranging genealogy of established and emerging writers from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka (including Mulk Raj Anand, R. K. Narayan, Raja Rao, Rohinton Mistry, Attia Hosain, Bapsi Sidhwa, Salman Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh, Shauna Singh Baldwin, Anjali Enjeti, Karan Mahajan, Zia Haider Rahman, Akhil Sharma, Jhumpa Lahiri, Kiran Desai, Sunjeev Sahota, and others), Ray calls on literary studies scholars to consider what diaspora can and cannot do. Mary Pat Brady (Chapter ) directs our attention to expulsion as a power that constitutes sovereignty. Expulsion is crucial to diaspora stories, as we have seen: how is it, then, that forced removal or deportation has gone undertheorized in the study of diaspora and literature? Brady explores the importance of expulsion to colonial and state sovereignty, tracing the buried links between colonial Spanish, Mexican, and US removal and exploitation of Indigenous peoples through state removal practices. Brady turns to fiction by Evangeline Parsons Yazzie, Lisa Ko, Helon Habila, Mohsin Hamid, and Jenny Erpenbeck, to grapple with how contemporary and young adult fiction narrates ways of living a deportable and deported life. Brady thus offers a rethinking of forced removal as knitted into the bifurcated imaginary of belonging and movement. Yogita Goyal (Chapter ) argues that diaspora is deeply intertwined with Afrofuturism. Showing how diaspora and Afrofuturism are propelled by the same core questions about the meanings of home, displacement, return, belonging, and escape, Goyal also shows that the rise of African-centered futurism in literature, visual art, film, and music since the s has been vital to a retheorization of diaspora. Afrofuturism reenvisions diaspora and utopia as imaginative projects, decentering Atlantic slavery as the presumptive origin story for the global African diaspora. Surveying African diasporic literature and thought from the early twentieth century novels of W. E. B. Du Bois, Pauline Hopkins, and Gold Coast Pan-Africanist Joseph E. Casely Hayford to the African futurist novels of Nnedi Okorafor, Goyal thus shows how diaspora animates Afrofuturism even as recent currents in Afrofuturism are remaking models of the Black diaspora and reconfiguring relationships between historical trauma and reparative futures. Part II Part II explicitly dwells on major concepts in the study of literature and diaspora, itself conceived and practiced through conditions of inextricability and mutuality. The chapters thus draw from key moments of

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intellectual and literary history in order to consider what happens when relationality and entanglement act upon diaspora, as a conceptual framework and as a repertoire of literary and cultural practices. Mrinalini Chakravorty (Chapter ) explores queerness and diaspora as inextricable. The chapter reads the UK courtroom to examine how the legal adjudication of queer asylum seekers’ sexual orientation and gender identity reveals a host of normative demands for compliance as well as asylum seekers’ proof of sexual and aesthetic knowledge that confound queer desire and experience. Reading asylum discourse alongside literary works by Oscar Wilde, Ocean Vuong, Audre Lorde, Michelle Cliff, Saleem Haddad, and others concerned with the relation of sexual and national boundary crossing, the chapter proposes that the genre of queer diasporic literature invites an understanding of queerness as a thwarting of sexual rigidities and an embrace of play that can counter conditions of Western hospitality toward queer refugee diasporic subjects. Ultimately, Chakravorty makes the case that queer diasporic literature – a genre specifically concerned with sexual and national border crossings – attends to the caprice of nonnormative desire. Laila Amine (Chapter ) argues for a sharper understanding of the genre of travel writing in African American and African diasporic literature. Amine reads James Baldwin’s travel essays, written abroad between  and  for US magazines, as texts bound up in the problem of relation as Baldwin navigated competing ideas of race and empire, anticolonial revolution and nationalism, Black internationalism, and PanAfricanism. Such “commissioned acts of looking” by Baldwin implicated him within the complex networks of power that structured his encounters with Africans in Europe as both “strangers and brothers.” Analyzing the conditions, people, and places of Baldwin’s travels as necessary contexts for his essays, Amine shows how the logics of race and empire that inhere in European travel writing and that shaped Cold War frameworks left Baldwin at times reasserting Europe’s racial and colonial logics, and at other times challenging them. Keith P. Feldman (Chapter ) finds, in Stuart Hall’s writings on the concept of diaspora, a recurring reticence in thinking through the historical entanglement of the Holocaust and the Nakba, and so of Jewish and Palestinian diasporas, as at once incommensurable and inextricable. The chapter situates Hall’s writings on diaspora within their shifting intellectual historical contexts and shows how the concept of diaspora gains new interpretive possibilities through translation, as when Ferial Ghazoul’s translation of Hall’s essays into Arabic produce new meanings of diaspora

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(al-shatāt) and cultural identity that newly enfold the vocabulary of Palestinian coercion and dispossession into Hall’s essay. Feldman reflects on Hall’s repeated refusals to contend with diasporic relationality through the question of Palestine and Israel but also finds openings for reading Hall against the grain, so that Hall’s writing in Arabic translation becomes an invitation for scholars of diaspora to dwell in fuller relation with Palestinian histories and practices of world-making. Walt Hunter (Chapter ) directs us to a key figure of Black intellectual and literary history with his chapter on the poetry of Claudia Jones, the major revolutionary theorist and Trinidadian-born antiracist communist organizer who fought imprisonment and deportation from the United States before her expulsion to Britain, where she continued her organizing. The chapter enacts ways of exploring Jones’s poetic conventions and use of historical forms as not simply emerging from diasporic conditions but as a way of becoming attuned to Jones’s poetics of carcerality, what Hunter argues is a poetics that remaps diaspora into a transnational circuit of South–South radical solidarities between women workers and revolutionaries. Bringing Jones’s poetics into relation with struggles for freedom against racial capitalist exploitation, Hunter demonstrates how teachers can demystify the process of reading poetry and at the same time bring into view the material conditions of the university classroom as complicit with global capitalism. Anthony Alessandrini (Chapter ) reads world literature as a dominant institutional category that, along with the more recent category “global literature,” threatens to absorb the concept of diaspora into course reading lists that offer students in US higher education easy access to the “world.” Where Sangeeta Ray asks us to consider diaspora’s limits, this chapter looks instead to diaspora – with its fraught politics of expulsion, loss, and return – for generating an internationalist literary imagination, particularly on the question of Palestine. Exploring a diasporic reading practice for works by Edward Said, Mourid Barghouti, Emile Habiby, and Mahmoud Darwish, the chapter assesses the limitations of the world literature paradigm for Palestinian cultural production under the historical and ongoing conditions of refugee expulsion, occupation, and precarious forms of citizenship and claims to land. Marguerite Nguyen (Chapter ) redirects us to the relation of refugees to environment in Vietnamese diasporic literature. The chapter proposes a concept of “refugee ecology” through her exploration of Nam Le’s “The Boat,” in which depictions of waterways function as maritime routes, as repositories of the dead, and as spiritual forces reflecting intimate human–

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nonhuman ties. Nguyen shows how water is crucial to the refugee ecological imaginary of Vietnamese diasporas and a memory channel between Vietnamese refugees and the deep seafaring histories of Vietnam. Informed by a critical refugee studies framework, refugee ecology offers a way to move beyond the refugee crisis imaginary of mainstream media discourse (where water is a diminished site of rescue or death within a diminished idea of refugee lives) and to reconnect literary studies to the diasporic storyworlds of war refugees. Jini Kim Watson (Chapter ) calls for a rethinking of diaspora when paired with its “seeming opposite,” detention. The chapter explores Behrouz Boochani’s No Friend but the Mountains (translated into English in collaboration with Omid Tofighian) and Boochani and Arash Kamali Sarvestani’s co-directed film Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time as works that grapple with the political, ethical, juridical, and aesthetic problems of human migration in the context of twenty-first century capitalism and neocolonial regimes of detention. Watson shows how No Friend and Chauka, composed from inside Australia’s offshore refugee detention camp at Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, theorize regimes of immobility through reworkings of diaspora and refugee aesthetic practices. The chapter thus reads Boochani’s work as border theory that recalls and troubles three tropes common to diasporic narratives: the account of flight from the homeland; the dynamics of hospitality/hostility and inclusion/exclusion in the land of arrival; and, the politics of collective identity in relation to the homeland. Part III Part III draws together the arguments on diaspora in Part I with the emphasis on relationality in Part II in order to recast concerns with kind and continuity, or, put another way, with genre, gender, and genealogies. Part III thus takes us through new ways to think of genre and the reproduction of literary genealogies to explore how reading practices can provide insight into embodiment, periodization, and politics of gender and sexuality within diasporic literature, arts, and theory. It thus dwells on the subjects introduced in preceding chapters but engages them differently to explore how a fresh attention to genre, generation, and genealogy can activate and rework diaspora in its manifold practices and meanings. Jinah Kim (Chapter ) proposes a decolonial genealogy of noir as a genre of secret transpacific histories and “nuclear diasporas.” In challenge

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to the scholarly consensus on noir as the generic innovation of European and US creative collaborations, Kim addresses the transpacific influences of US military expansion in the Asia-Pacific, a history of violence that shaped noir as a genre only to be elided, rendered secret and unrecognizable through the very features that constitute noir as a genre. The chapter surveys US classical film and literary noir, including Double Indemnity () and The Lady from Shanghai () before turning to Filipino American author Carlos Bulosan’s posthumously published novel All the Conspirators as arguably the first Asian American noir novel, written in secret to evade FBI surveillance, and a powerful work of radical imagination that remakes noir into a genre of hidden anticolonial solidarities and reclassifies transpacific diasporas through the histories of US military imperialism that engendered them. Transpacific noir thus serves as a decolonial method, a way to play with generic expectations and rework cultural geographies of diaspora and empire. Justin L. Mann (Chapter ) shows that Black speculative fiction offers important ways of theorizing key concepts of pleasure, power, and death for twenty-first century Black studies. Resonating with Goyal’s discussion of Afrofuturism and diaspora in Chapter , Mann engages with the relevance of Black speculative fiction (SF) to a generation of artists and scholars writing in the wake of the  murder of Trayvon Martin and the contradictory promises of racial progress in US politics. Mann draws from theorists including Michelle M. Wright to explore the burgeoning field of twenty-first century Black speculative fiction across media (including Nalo Hopkinson, N. K. Jemisin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Nnedi Okorafor, Roxane Gay, Ryan Coogler, Jordan Peele, Beyoncé, and Janelle Monáe) as it reconfigures ideas of humanity and temporality beyond liberal epistemologies. The chapter devotes itself in particular to a close reading of Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s short story “The Finkelstein Five” to explore speculative fiction as a genre that enframes the lived experiences of racial violence within the speculative fantasies of a just and livable world. Rachel L. Mordecai (Chapter ) shifts the question of genre and generations to the diasporic family saga novel as a genre explicitly concerned with the appeals to origin and genealogy across time and space. Taking biological and narrative reproduction to be processes of family formation in generational lines and diasporic mappings, Mordecai conceptualizes the Caribbean diasporic family saga novel as an especially “fertile and yet fraught” genre, one predicated on the assumption that genealogies are knowable and on the conceit that a multigenerational story of a single

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family conveys the story of a nation. The chapter focuses on Maryse Condé’s Tree of Life and The Last of the African Kings as novels that remap the role of women in biological and narrative reproduction, a role essential to family formation that also continually brings women up against the demands and strictures of patriarchy, affects their erotic and intellectual autonomy, and structurally determines their relationships to other women. Samantha Pinto (Chapter ) extends the concern with genres and embodiment in her chapter, which addresses a remaking of the feminist, queer, sexual body as the center of twenty-first century diasporic cultural practice and thought. The chapter addresses tendencies in African diaspora feminist literary study to tacitly contain scholarship to national boundaries, prescribed readings of feminist subjects in masculinist diasporic narratives, and the novel genre. It argues that the work of Wangechi Mutu, Theresa Ikoko, and Tjawangwa (TJ) Dema, among a host of other African diaspora artists and writers, moves the labor of constructing, perceiving, and living through feminine embodied experience to the center of theories of diaspora. Pinto explores how these works of visual art, poetry, and drama push against the theories of the self, nation, and identity that have been overly reliant on the novel in the literary study of diaspora: in doing so they make new routes for the futures of feminist diasporic literature and thought. Lauren K. Alleyne (Chapter ) reflects on fiction as a literary genre that can attend to both the exteriority of the spectacularized abject body and the interiority of refugee experience and agency. Resonating with JeanCharles’s engagement with Haitian diasporic fiction in Chapter , as well as the insights of critical refugee studies scholarship in Chapter  by Nguyen and Chapter  by Watson, Alleyne positions Roxane Gay’s Ayiti as a text that uses the techniques of narrative fiction to construct a “co-narrative” framework, one that strategically narrates refugees as spectacle in concert with narrating fictional refugee subjectivities, what Alleyne describes as the interiority of experience and agency. Rather than accept the polarization of abjection and agency, Alleyne thus contributes to broader efforts to complicate and manipulate the relationship between them in literary imaginings of refugee diasporas. Rita Sakr (Chapter ) brings biopolitics and environmentalism into relation with genre in conceiving of an Arabic diasporic literary geography as a planetary geoaesthetics, “an ever-expanding space of encounter for unbounded modes of being, witnessing, telling, and resisting.” Sakr offers a sweeping range of Arabic diasporic narrative fiction from North Africa,

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Europe, North America, and the Middle East, in part by shifting the terms of diaspora from Arab (as ethno-cultural category) to Arabic (as linguisticcultural modifier) to push beyond the implicit boundaries of diasporic literary geographies. The chapter thus explores fiction in Arabic and in an English influenced by Arabic poetics, moving across ecologies of desert in Ibrahim al-Koni’s Gold Dust, forest-border thresholds in Hassan Blasim’s “Ali’s Bag,” urban bio-connectivity in Rawi Hage’s Cockroach and Beirut Hellfire Society, and ecological-political alienation in Ibtisam Azem’s The Book of Disappearance. In doing so, Sakr proposes new ways to trace diaspora through the contours of a planetary geoaesthetics, dwelling on the contestations of border, body, language, memory, and land. Nadine Attewell (Chapter ) brings together several of the threads from the reassessment of “origins” and dispossession in Part I and the exploration of entanglement as concept, method, and problem space in Part II, to address the “predicaments of arrival” for diasporic thought in settler nations. The chapter offers an account of this turn in Black, Asian diasporic, and Indigenous thought and literature in the contexts of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States, where settler colonial histories of dispossession were a condition of possibility for diasporic arrivals. In close readings of literary texts by writers including Leslie Marmon Silko, Cecily Nicholson, Lorena Gale, SKY Lee, F. B. André, and Solmaz Sharif, the chapter attunes us to the entanglement of Indigenous and diasporic struggles for justice and transformation. To think about the predicaments of arrival is to surface manifold histories of colonial modernities and the entanglement of settler colonial and other colonial histories and infrastructures: as such, arrival becomes a condition for imagining and mobilizing decolonization as an ongoing, multisited project rooted in the collective imaginings of better futures.

Notes  Shana L. Redmond, “Diaspora.” In Keywords for African American Studies, ed. Erica R. Edwards, Roderick A. Ferguson, and Jeffrey Ogbonna Green Ogbar (New York: New York University Press, ), –, .  A minimal sampling from the latter category would include Jana Evans Braziel and Anita Mannur (eds.). Theorizing Diaspora: A Reader (Malden: Blackwell, ); Kim Knott and Seán McLoughlin (eds.). Diasporas: Concepts, Intersections, Identities (London: Zed Books Ltd, ); and Kevin Kenny, Diaspora: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, ); see also Robin Cohen, Global Diasporas: An Introduction, nd edn. (New York: Routledge, ). However, “diaspora” appears as an entry in a great

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 







  many reference works and disciplinary encyclopedias across the humanities and social sciences, each with particular literature reviews and research bibliographies. For an excellent example of this approach see also Ato Quayson and Girish Daswani (eds.). A Companion to Diaspora and Transnationalism (West Sussex: Blackwell Publishing, ). Shahram Khosravi, “What Do We See if We Look at the Border from the Other Side?” Social Anthropology , no.  (): –. See also Harsha Walia, Border and Rule: Global Migration, Capitalism, and the Rise of Racist Nationalism (New York: Haymarket Books, ). Hagar Kotef, Movement and the Ordering of Freedom: On Liberal Governances of Mobility (Durham: Duke University Press, ), ix. The reference draws from Michel Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (New York: Random House, ). For recent studies of border and racial regimes that offer a framework for diaspora scholarship, see Aimee Bahng, Migrant Futures: Decolonizing Speculation in Financial Times (Durham: Duke University Press, ); Catherine L. Besteman, Militarized Global Apartheid (Durham: Duke University Press, ); Wendy Brown, Walled States, Waning Sovereignty (Princeton: Princeton University Press, ); Jason De Leon, The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail (Berkeley: University of California Press, ); Adam Goodman, The Deportation Machine: America’s Long History of Expelling Immigrants (Princeton: Princeton University Press, ); Greg Grandin, The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America (New York: Metropolitan Books, ); Reece Jones, Violent Borders: Refugees and the Right to Move (New York: Verso, ); Hagar Kotef, The Colonizing Self: Or, Home and Homelessness in Israel/ Palestine (Durham: Duke University Press, ); Mahmoud Keshavarz and Shahram Khosravi, Seeing Like a Smuggler: Borders from Below (New York: Pluto Press, ); Thomas Nail, Theory of the Border (Oxford: Oxford University Press, ); Mae Ngai, Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, ); A. Naomi Paik, Bans, Walls, Raids, Sanctuary: Understanding U.S. Immigration for the Twenty-First Century (Berkeley: University of California Press, ); Walia, Border and Rule. On the time of entanglement, see Achille Mbembe, On the Postcolony (Berkeley: University of California Press, ), ; see also the epigraph to the introduction from Dionne Brand, The Blue Clerk: Ars Poetica in  Versos (Durham: Duke University Press, ), Verso , –; for the quote on poetics, see Dionne Brand, “An Ars Poetica from the Blue Clerk.” The Black Scholar, , no.  (): –; for residence time, see Christina Sharpe, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being (Durham: Duke University Press, ); and see also Michelle M. Wright, Physics of Blackness: Beyond the Middle Passage Epistemology (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, ).

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 See the epigraph from Mahmoud Darwish, In the Presence of Absence, trans. Sinan Antoon (New York: Archipelago Books, ), .  Lisa Lowe and Kris Manjapra, “Comparative Global Humanities after Man: Alternatives to the Coloniality of Knowledge.” Theory, Culture & Society, , no.  (): –.  Ibid., . See also Anibal Quijano and Immanuel Wallerstein, “Americanity as a Concept, or the Americas in the Modern World-System,” International Social Science Journal, , no.  (): –; and Édouard Glissant, Poetics of Relation (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, ); see also Stanka Radović, “The Birthplace of Relation: Édouard Glissant’s ‘Poétique de La Relation’.” Callaloo , no.  (): –.  Stéphane Dufoix, The Dispersion: A History of the Word Diaspora (Leiden: Brill, ), . See Dufoix for more on the “false origins” that he finds insupportable: specifically he disputes claims that the word diaspora appears before the Septuagint and as early as the fifth century BCE to refer to Greek colonization in a negative, positive, or neutral way; and that the term is undifferentiated from the Hebrew term galuth (as synonymous with exile but more complex, evoking desolation, being made naked, and specifically used to describe the deportation of Jews from Babylon).  Ibid., .  Dufoix explains, “Contrary to what has often been claimed, ‘diaspora’ was not used to translate the Hebrew terms galut, galah, and golah. These were rendered in the Septuagint by several Greek words: apoikia (emigration), paroikia (settlement abroad), metoikia (emigration) or metoikesia (transportation), aikhmalosia (wartime captivity), or apokalupsis (revelation),” in Stéphane Dufoix, Diasporas (Berkeley: University of California Press, ), .  See Debarati Sanyal, Memory and Complicity: Migrations of Holocaust Remembrance (New York: Fordham University Press, ); see also Michael Rothberg, Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization (Redwood City: Stanford University Press, ).  Vahé Oshagan, “Literature of the Armenian Diaspora.” World Literature Today, , no.  (): –, .  Iman Mersal, “Eliminating Diasporic Identities.” PMLA, , no.  (): –, .  Ibid., .  An influential study is sociologist Cohen’s Global Diasporas. Political scientist William Safran’s suggested criteria for diaspora was part of the debate as it unfolded in the journal Diaspora, when he proposed “the concept of diaspora be applied to expatriate minority communities whose members share several of the following characteristics: ) they, or their ancestors, have been dispersed from a specific original ‘center’ to two or more ‘peripheral,’ or foreign, regions; ) they retain a collective memory, vision, or myth about their original homeland – its physical location, history, and achievements; ) they believe that they are not – and perhaps cannot be – fully accepted by their host society

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    

 

    

  and therefore feel partly alienated and insulated from it; ) they regard their ancestral homeland as their true, ideal home and as the place to which they or their descendants would (or should) eventually return – when conditions are appropriate; ) they believe that they should, collectively, be committed to the maintenance or restoration of their original homeland and to its safety and prosperity; and ) they continue to relate, personally or vicariously, to that homeland in one way or another, and their ethnocommunal consciousness and solidarity are importantly defined by the existence of such a relationship.” William Safran, “Diasporas in Modern Societies: Myths of Homeland and Return.” Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, , no.  (): –, –. United Nations, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Report, , . D. Alissa Trotz and Beverley Mullings, “Transnational Migration, the State, and Development: Reflecting on the ‘Diaspora Option’.” Small Axe, , no.  () ( July ): –, . Ibid., –. Khachig Tölölyan, “Rethinking Diaspora(s): Stateless Power in the Transnational Moment.” Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, , no.  (Spring ): –, . Avtar Brah, Cartographies of Diaspora: Contesting Identities (Oxfordshire: Routledge, ), . See also Avtar Brah, “Articulations across Diaspora, Law and Literature.” In Diaspora, Law and Literature, ed. Daniela Carpi and Klaus Stierstorfer (Berlin: De Gruyter, ). Stuart Hall, “Cultural Identity and Diaspora.” In Identity: Community, Culture, Difference, ed. Jonathan Rutherford (London: Lawrence Wishart, ), –, . W. E. B. Du Bois, “The Color Line Belts the World.” Collier’s Weekly (October , ): , collected in W. E. B. Du Bois: A Reader (New York: Henry Holt and Company, ), , and quoted in Brent Hayes Edwards, The Practice of Diaspora: Literature, Translation, and the Rise of Black Internationalism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, ), –; and Robin D. G. Kelley, “‘But a Local Phase of a World Problem’: Black History’s Global Vision, –.” The Journal of American History, , no.  (New York: Oxford University Press, ): –, . See, for example, Bruce Robbins and Paulo Lemos Horta (eds.), Cosmopolitanisms (New York: New York University Press, ). Kwame Anthony Appiah, Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers (New York: Norton, ), xv. See also Appiah on the Cynics, xiv, , and . Lisa Lowe, “Heterogeneity, Hybridity, Multiplicity,” collected in Braziel and Mannur, Theorizing Diaspora, . See also recent directions in such work by Long T. Bui, Evyn Lê Espiritu Gandhi, Vinh Nguyen, and Long Le-Khac in the Select Bibliography. Kelley, “But a Local Phase of a World Problem,” .

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Introduction: Diaspora and Literary Studies

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 Ghassan Hage, The Diasporic Condition: Ethnographic Explorations of the Lebanese in the World (Chicago: University of Chicago Press), .  Ibid., x.  Ibid., .  Brah, Cartographies of Diaspora, .  Hage, The Diasporic Condition, .  Etel Adnan, Sitt Marie Rose. Transl. from the French by Georgina Kleege (Sausalito: The Post-Apollo Press, ).  Rey Chow, Entanglements, or Transmedial Thinking about Capture (Durham: Duke University Press, ), –.  Lisa Lowe, The Intimacies of Four Continents (Durham: Duke University Press, ), . See also Kandice Chuh’s concept of ‘illiberal’ humanism in Chuh, The Difference Aesthetics Makes: On the Humanities “After Man” (Durham: Duke University Press, ).  Ibid., .  Gayatri Gopinath, Unruly Visions: The Aesthetic Practices of Queer Diaspora (Durham: Duke University Press, ), .  Ibid., .  Keith Feldman, “Beyond Analogy.” In Policing Analogy series online for Contending Modernities blog, available at: https://contendingmodernities.nd .edu/theorizing-modernities/beyond-analogy/ (last accessed August , ). This volume accepts that the term entanglement is a metaphor in physics as in many other disciplines. For a different take, see Hadji Bakara, “The Ends of Entanglement: Conjectures on a Future Politics for Global Anglophone Literature.” In Forms of the Global Anglophone cluster for Post, available at: https://post.org///the-ends-of-entanglement-conjectures-on-afuture-politics-for-global-anglophone-literature/ (last accessed August , ).  Stuart Hall, Familiar Stranger: A Life between Two Islands, ed. Bill Schwarz (Durham: Duke University Press, ), ; cited in Chapter  by Supriya Nair.  Tölölyan, “Rethinking Diaspora(s),” .  Redmond, “Diaspora,” .  I use the slightly different translation of Fanon’s line as it appears in Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, transl. Charles Lam Markmann (New York: Grove, ), , quoted in Sylvia Wynter, “The Pope Must Have Been Drunk, the King of Castile a Madman: Culture as Actuality and the Caribbean Rethinking Modernity.” In The Reordering of Culture: Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada in the Hood, ed. Alvina Ruprecht and Cecilia Taiana (Ottawa: Carleton University Press, ), –, .

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 

Origins Revisited

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Displaced in Diaspora? Jewish Communities in the Greco-Roman World Erich S. Gruen

The Jews of antiquity were certainly not homebodies. They could be found in communities all over the Mediterranean and the Near East, from Spain and North Africa to Babylon and Iran. The Jewish philosopher Philo, writing in the early first century CE, even claimed that Jerusalem is not only the mother city of Judaea but also of Jews everywhere, offering a long list of dwelling places, starting with neighboring areas like Phoenicia, Syria, and Egypt, proceeding to most of the regions of Asia Minor, then all over Greece and the Aegean islands, beyond the Euphrates to Babylon and the former satrapies of the Persian empire, to every part of the inhabited world. A bit of an exaggeration, to be sure. But not pure fantasy. The passage indicates clearly enough that the breadth of the Jewish diaspora had reached very sizable proportions by Philo’s time. It certainly far outstripped the number of Jews who resided in Judaea and its surroundings. Almost all of those communities were in the orbit of Greek culture and Roman authority. Jews were everywhere in a minority, to be sure, and the levers of power were usually well outside their reach. Did their minority status mean that they were marginalized, perched in every location outside of Judaea on a precarious periphery? To answer this question, one needs to inquire just how they got there in the first place. The idea that Jews were regularly expelled or exiled, forced out of homes, and compelled to seek refuge in alien lands may seem logical, even inevitable. In fact, it is unsupportable. We have little or no evidence to suggest anything of the sort. One might cite the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the haul of Jewish war captives in  CE as a touchstone. But that won’t do. Jews were in the diaspora in substantial numbers for centuries before. Why were they there? That is where our evidence fails us, a source of frustration familiar to all ancient historians. We rarely get notice of motives that may have spurred Jews to settle abroad. Our sources confine themselves largely to wars, politics, and major public events. But it is noteworthy that they record 

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

 . 

no mass exodus. We almost never get a glimpse of the reasons individual Jews or Jewish families might have had for leaving their homeland and moving elsewhere. A variety of purposes, perfectly plausible ones, can be conjectured: to gain employment in a variety of occupations, to obtain military service, to escape the effects of overpopulation or the ravages of war at home, to lift their social status, to rejoin families, to obtain land, to profit from commercial or business opportunities, and generally to better their circumstances. Those who served as mercenary soldiers, of course, ran the risk of choosing the losing side, suffering capture, and ending up in unanticipated places. That may well have happened in many cases. But there can be no question that voluntary migration, for whatever reasons, accounted for vastly more diaspora Jews than coerced displacement. The absence of evidence, as we all know, is not evidence of absence. In this case, however, there is a most striking absence that is quite revealing. No Jewish writer from antiquity, to our knowledge, ever wrote a treatise on diaspora, nor do we have hints that anybody reflected upon it or sought to address it as a problem. To be sure, exile plays a major and morose role in the biblical narrative of Jewish experience. Exile characterizes the aftermath of the Assyrian conquest of the eighth century BCE and the Babylonian “captivity” of the sixth century BCE. And texts of the GrecoRoman period frequently mention exile in reference to those dire events. Consequently, many modern commentators conceived a painful sense of Jewish self-understanding, the lachrymose vision that stamps diaspora as a negative condition in need of reversal. But allusions to the grim fortunes of Israelites in biblical times do not correspond to the era of the Mediterranean diaspora. Nothing suggests that Jews of the GrecoRoman period considered themselves in exile. Jewish thinkers evidently did not feel an obligation to rationalize, justify, or apologize for the fact that they were living elsewhere than in Judaea. None thought it relevant to construct a theory of “diaspora.” The absence of this very topic suggests that the situation did not constitute an issue that needed to be accounted for, let alone a source of anguish. Jews felt no call to conceptualize diaspora. Indeed, they never described themselves as members of a diaspora. Jews of antiquity do not appear to have had a desperate yearning for a “return” to a place of origin that defined their identity. A hankering after the homeland is surprisingly lacking in the literature. That is not to say that all connection was lost or forgotten. Far from it. Jews all over the Mediterranean and beyond were expected to pay an annual tithe to the Temple in Jerusalem, thereby asserting in both symbolic and tangible form

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

their allegiance to the holy center of Jewish existence. They, or at least those who could afford it, also conducted pilgrimages to Jerusalem. How frequently or regularly we cannot say. But we do know that when pilgrimages occurred, usually at times of sacred holidays and festivals, they could draw extensive crowds. Whatever the numbers, the practice alone tells an important tale. It emblematized the deep linkage between diaspora and fatherland, without in any way diminishing the attachment to the land in which one now dwelled. The tithe was a token, though a heavily meaningful one for diaspora Jews. And the pilgrimage, by definition, was a temporary expression of loyalty to the origins. Pilgrims, after all, paid homage and then went home. This sense of dual loyalty, uncomplicated and taken for granted, received memorable expression in the works of Philo, the Jewish philosopher from Alexandria. As he put it, the Jews considered Jerusalem as their “metropolis,” their mother-city, but the states in which they actually lived – indeed in which their fathers, grandfathers, and distant ancestors in many cases had lived – were considered their patrides, their native lands. They found no inconsistency or tension in that. Jews tended to congregate, reputed for their self-segregation in the diaspora communities in which they had settled. That reputation was doubtless deserved. Comfortable with their own coreligionists, they often clustered in certain areas that allowed them to preserve traditions and promote a sense of collective identity in new settings. But one ought not to conjure up visions of Jews huddled in dismal and forlorn ghettoes, confined and restricted by the authorities. That would be deeply inaccurate. One institution decisively refutes such a picture. The synagogue turns up in remarkably widespread and diverse places. We have records of them from literary texts, from inscriptions, and from archaeology that has revealed the remains of some of the actual structures. The earliest references go back to sixth century BCE Egypt, where a large dossier of papyri discloses the existence of a Jewish military colony at Elephantine in Upper Egypt which, among many other things, included a temple of Yahweh and provided for celebration of the Passover. Jewish communities had established themselves in Middle Egypt, too, by the third century, as we know from inscriptions recording dedications of synagogues made by Jews honoring the ruling family of the Ptolemies. Comparable language appears in various dedications to the Ptolemies in synagogues of Lower Egypt as well in the second century. Numerous synagogues also arose in Alexandria, which was home to a very large community of Jews. And Egypt was far from alone. We know of synagogues in Antioch and

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

 . 

Damascus in Syria, in Cyrene in North Africa, and in various Greek cities of Asia Minor that gained acknowledgment from Rome to conduct their activities, including the construction of synagogues. Epigraphic evidence further reveals Jewish communities with synagogues in cities on the shores of the Black Sea. In the west, Jews had synagogues in Rome, sanctioned by the emperor Augustus. Funerary epitaphs from the Jewish catacombs in Rome show that at least eleven synagogues existed in the city by the third century CE. And the spade has unearthed yet another one, not in Rome but in Rome’s own harbor city of Ostia. Perhaps most striking, the evidence from the first-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus tells us that Jews were resident on the Greek island of Delos in the Aegean sea, and archaeologists have uncovered a structure which can be reasonably identified as a synagogue. Delos was a holy site for the Greeks. It was the birthplace of Apollo, a locale for Greek pilgrimage, and a major commercial center for the Mediterranean. The fact that Jews dwelled and possessed a communal sanctuary on that sacred isle is powerful testimony for their welcome and acceptance even in a key center of pagan religion. Synagogues were not simply houses of worship. Evidence from scattered sources indicates that they could provide means for a range of social and educational activities, including study of the Scriptures, instruction of the young, celebration of festivals, communal dining, neighborhood meetings, adjudication of disputes, and maintenance of the community’s archives. Not that all synagogues performed all these functions. Given the diversity of locations, we can infer that local practices and needs determined what would take place at any individual site. What is notable here is that synagogues were built with frequency and without resistance. Indeed, some of them received patronage and financial support from wealthy non-Jewish donors. The extensive spread of the synagogue and the largely laissez-faire attitude of Greek and Roman authorities toward their operation speak to the comfort level of Jews in their own institutions in the diaspora. And one can go beyond the synagogue. In some places, Jews set up governing bodies of their own. The first century BCE geographer Strabo, who had no axe to grind for Jews, tells us that the Jewish community of Alexandria had an official with the title of ethnarch who governed them, oversaw contracts and decrees, and decided disputes. At Sardis in Asia Minor, Jews had a governing body, a synodos, that exercised oversight and adjudication within their ranks. Documentary evidence comes from the city of Berenike in Cyrene recording decisions made by the politeuma, evidently the corporate political entity of the Jewish community. And a

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

remarkable and invaluable cache of papyri from Herakleopolis in Middle Egypt was published in . It disclosed details we had never had before of the workings of a Jewish politeuma. The documents record an officialdom headed by a politarch together with other archons who judged disputes within the community and occasionally even between Jews and Gentiles, remarkable evidence for the stature of Jews in that city. We have a literary reference to a Jewish politeuma even in the great city of Alexandria. So, self-governing Jewish institutions did exist and were evidently sanctioned by the powers that be in at least some cities of the Greco-Roman world. But what part, if any, did Jews play in the larger civic world of GrecoRoman society? Were they frozen out of the organs of power and social prestige, dependent upon the grace and generosity of their betters? We have a small window on the Jews of Alexandria. They felt free to call themselves “Alexandrians.” Greeks in the city did not have a monopoly on the term. This we learn from Jewish intellectuals Philo and Josephus. But we also learn from the Greek intellectual Strabo that Jews possessed a political structure in which the chief magistrate had, in Strabo’s interesting formulation, something less than full autonomy. The implication seems to be that, in addition to governing their internal affairs, the Jews also participated in a larger Alexandrian entity, although they did not have full status in it. This ambiguous situation is echoed by other texts that make reference to a Jewish politeia or to Jewish political rights, and indeed acknowledge that Jewish inhabitants of Greek cities generally, not only Alexandria, could be described as Ioudaioi politai. So, Ioudaioi did enjoy civic privileges of some sort that were recognized by the authorities. We have evidence of Jews as part of the citizenry, at least to some degree, also in Antioch. Josephus reports, perhaps not with complete objectivity, that Jews enjoyed politeia dating back to the founding of that city by the Hellenistic dynasty of the Seleucids, a status equivalent to that of the Greeks and Macedonians dwelling there. Although the date and status may be exaggerated, Jews evidently enjoyed a place in the political scene of Antioch under both the Seleucids and the Roman empire. The same holds for the Anatolian city of Sardis for which documents supplied by Josephus refer to Jewish residents as politai. A term like politai should certainly imply that Jews had some role in the civic structure of Sardis and were not mere representatives of their own self-contained entity. Our evidence is evocative rather than definitive. But it does give a sense that Jews could – and in some places certainly did – have a part to play in civic society beyond any isolated or segregated commune.

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

 . 

Another point deserves emphasis: Jews were eligible for Roman citizenship. And citizenship did not require them to live in Rome. The extension of Roman citizenship to various individuals and communities in various parts of the empire is a very long story in and of itself, which we cannot get into here. But some Jews, at least, were beneficiaries of that status. Paul, of course, a Jew from Tarsus, is the most familiar example. But he was far from alone. We know that Roman officials responsible for recruiting soldiers for the army in Asia Minor during the civil war between Caesar and Pompey explicitly exempted Jews who were Roman citizens from conscription. The decrees issued by the officers show that there were enough Jews with Roman citizenship in Asia Minor to make the granting of exemptions from military service a meaningful act. Equally significant is the evidence on the Jewish community in Rome itself. It constituted a sufficiently substantial number to support gatherings which could put pressure on the government and lobby for policies that affected the community. It is probable that many Jewish families in Rome stemmed originally from war captives, mercenaries who had served in the armies of Rome’s enemies in the east, and had been brought to Italy as slaves. But they were not locked into that situation for good. Rome took pride in a quite remarkable policy. Any slaves who were manumitted by their owners automatically became Roman citizens. Freedmen played a significant role in Roman society, not, of course, at its upper levels, but as meaningful members of its citizenry. Jews were obviously among the beneficiaries of this policy. The privileges accorded by citizenship are well illustrated by an episode in the reign of Augustus. When monthly distributions of grain for those in need took place on the Sabbath, many Jews could not take advantage of the bounty, and some must have brought this problem to the attention of the authorities. Augustus intervened and directed that when the allocations were scheduled for the Sabbath, the officials in charge should reserve a portion of the grain for the following day so that Jews could have access to it. As we know from other sources, recipients of the grain distribution had to be citizens. In other words, many Jews in Rome, even those of slender means, were Roman citizens. In short, Jews, at least in some places, had civic privileges, even citizenship, and could have an impact on the public stage. But what of the realm of high culture? Did they have access to the upper echelons of the educated intelligentsia? Or was such a rarified realm closed to them? The place to look first is the gymnasium. That institution represented the capstone of higher education in Greek cities everywhere around the Mediterranean and persisted for the Greek elite well into the period of the

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

Roman Empire. Participants in the gymnasium came from the best families and entered as youths (boys only, of course) into the corps of ephebes, the blue-bloods who would be trained for leadership in the city. Now this would hardly be a place where one might expect to find any Jews. And indeed there were surely not many. But the gymnasium was not an altogether closed shop. We have the good fortune to possess numerous inscriptions that record the names of those enrolled as ephebes in various gymnasia. And, surprisingly, Jews do occasionally turn up. Two ephebic lists from Cyrene, for example, one from the late first century BCE and one from the early first century CE contain the names of some participants that are unmistakably Jewish and several others that could be as well: Judas, Elazar, and Jesus, and several others that could be as well, including Jason, Simon, and Theodotus. A similar list shows names that look decidedly Jewish. Jews may not have entered the ranks of the ephebate in notable numbers, but they were clearly not excluded from a gymnasium education, the prerequisite to acceptance in the tiers of the intelligentsia. Gymnasia, it needs to be stressed, were open only to those who knew Greek. All higher learning was conducted in that language. And it went well beyond the upper layers of society. Greek constituted the lingua franca of the eastern Mediterranean, and thus the language of the diaspora. A landmark event occurred sometime in the third century BCE: the translation of the Hebrew Bible, or at least the Pentateuch, into Greek. The translation required a highly skilled and well-trained cadre of scholars, fully conversant in both languages. That cadre likely consisted largely of Jewish translators who must have had access to a high-level cultivation of Greek. Few Gentiles would have had a burning desire to dip into the books of Moses. Jews with a gymnasium education produced a plethora of literary works in just about every genre that Greeks had made their own: epic, tragedy, philosophy, historiography, didactic poetry, and the novel. They evidently commanded the whole range of Hellenic intellectual traditions and were thus deeply engaged in that larger cultural world. Their subjects, however, were the Hebrew patriarchs, the tales of biblical figures like Joseph, the deeds of Moses, or the kings of Judah. The Jewish playwright Ezekiel, for instance, produced a wholesale drama on the model of Aeschylus, but its topic was the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt. A Jewish poet named Theodotus wrote in Homeric hexameters and produced an entire epic dealing at least with the life of Jacob, though we have extensive fragments focusing only on Genesis , the rape of Dinah. An inventive novelist whose name we do not know composed an absorbing novella on the

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

 . 

relationship between Joseph and Aseneth, using just a single passage in Genesis as his inspiration. And the very creative historian Artapanus produced a treatise that has Moses as a military hero who defeated Ethiopians but brought culture to the Egyptians, including the introduction of animal worship and the invention of hieroglyphics. Hellenistic Jewish authors thus ran the gamut from tragic drama to fanciful historiography. The restriction of their works to traditions growing out of the Bible itself and to the celebrated figures from their own ancestral past reinforced the sense of self-esteem and stressed the ongoing history of their nation. But this was more than a tightly enclosed community isolated from its cultural surroundings. These compositions required a deep familiarity with Hellenic literature, literary forms, genres, and the nuances of Greek language that could only have come from a gymnasium education and a thorough engagement with the cultural currents of their contemporaries, both Jew and Gentile. The evidence, therefore, slim as it is, points to parallel engagements between the Jewish intelligentsia and the cultural elite of Hellenic society in the diaspora. But can we take this a step further into the delicate and contested terrain of religion? Surely here, if anywhere, there would be irreconcilable differences. Jewish monotheists could not subscribe to polytheistic beliefs and practices and would thus risk displacement, marginalization, or persecution. So one might think. But the facts on the ground beg to differ. Jewish customs like Sabbath observance, dietary laws, and circumcision might have evoked puzzlement, even mockery and derision, but they did not produce pogroms. The worship of Yahweh was greeted largely with indifference or amused forbearance. This held true even at the highest levels. Emperor worship constituted a key element in the solidarity of the Roman empire. The Jews, of course, however loyal they might be on all other matters, could not engage in worship of the emperor. How far were Jews willing to bend, and how far were the Roman authorities willing to tolerate deviance? A ready solution came to hand. Jews would not make sacrifices to the emperor but were perfectly happy to sacrifice to Yahweh on behalf of the emperor. A neat compromise, and it endured. We must, however, reach below the level of the imperial majesty and official public policy. Can we get to the ordinary members of Jewish communities in the cities and principalities of the Greco-Roman world? Here we lack official documentation or literary texts. But the testimony of inscriptions, whether funerary epitaphs, private dedications, or lists of donors to institutions, provides valuable, and sometimes quite surprising, insight into the experience of the humbler members of society.

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

Some evocative examples should be mentioned. From Oropos in central Greece we have a fascinating dedication from the third century BCE by Moschos that commemorates his manumission and gives thanks to the Greek god Amphiarios. Moschos records a dream sent to him by Amphiarios and Hygieia, a Greek goddess of health, who instructed him to set up a stele at the altar of Amphiarios as overseer of his emancipation. And Moschos identifies himself here as Moschos Ioudaios, that is, Moschos the Jew. A votive dedication by a Jew to pagan divinities, without qualification or embarrassment, certainly deserves notice. Moschos appealed to the protective authority of the pagan shrine to guarantee the endurance of his new status as a freedman. But he openly declares himself a Jew. Homage paid to the pagan gods did not entail abandoning his identification with the broader Jewish community. Further evidence along this line comes from two inscriptions set up at the temple of Pan at El-Kanais near Edfu in Egypt, probably from the Ptolemaic period. Each delivers praise to “god” (theos) for his benefaction. The first dedicator describes himself as “Theodotus the Jew,” the second as “Ptolemy the Jew.” They show no hesitation about those labels. Expressing gratitude to a pagan divinity evidently did not dilute these dedicators’ Jewishness. And these are no mere civic conventions; they are religious offerings. It is instructive to look at this from the other side as well. We have inscriptions that record patronage and gifts accorded by pagan benefactors to Jewish synagogues, whether for building a courtyard, adding a roof, repairing a structure, or even endowing an entire synagogue. And it is interesting to notice the synagogue inscriptions that pay tribute to the donors by awarding a golden crown or a special seat of honor. These are precisely the sort of reciprocal benefactions and expressions of gratitude that are commonly found in pagan inscriptions. The Jews fitted in perfectly with the social conventions long established in the Greek cities of the Hellenistic and Roman worlds which they mirrored. Equally interesting is the fact that a fair proportion of these inscriptions refer to Jewish women donors and benefactresses. This demonstrates not only that Jewish women could own property in their own right and that some possessed extensive holdings, but also that they bought into the pagan traditions of exhibiting status through handsome donations and receiving honorific awards in return. One can go further and into a different realm of social and religious life. We are fortunate in possessing a number of relevant inscriptions that attest to the manumission of slaves. They begin already in the Hellenistic period.

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

 . 

At Delphi, seat of the Delphic oracle, Ioudaios emancipated his slave in standard Hellenic fashion through fictitious sale to the god Apollo in the late second or early first century BCE. Here again adaptation to Greek practices seems quite comfortable and smooth, and the recourse to Apollo perfectly natural. The Jewish manumitter chose to liberate his slave in a pagan shrine under the aegis of a pagan god. One last example comes from the town of Hierapolis in Phrygia in Anatolia during the mid-second century CE. The inscription belongs to the sarcophagus of Hikesios, “also called Judah,” says the stone. The document calls him the “most famous victor in sacred contests” and indeed adds “multiple victor.” Whether his triumphs came in athletic or musical contests is unspecified. But that a man who carried the name Judah could enter – and win – numerous “sacred contests,” that is, contests consecrated to pagan deities, holds real significance. Not only could Jews take part in gymnasial games, but they advertised their participation proudly in these preeminently pagan competitions. One can make this point even more strongly from the reverse angle. An inestimable number of non-Jews found Judaism enticing. Some imitated the Jewish way of life (like observing the Sabbath), adopted certain codes of behavior, took part in synagogue activities, or provided material support for the Jewish community. The Jews did not turn such people away. Josephus waxes with excessive eloquence on the subject. Every single nation, he trumpets, whether Greek or barbarian, possesses observers of the Sabbath, people who have adopted Jewish dietary practices, or those who emulate the Jews in their internal concord, philanthropy, skill in the crafts, and adherence to the law. Josephus’s statement is somewhat over the top. And Philo tops even that. He claims that almost everyone everywhere values the principles of the Jews, and that observance of the Sabbath extends not only to free men and slaves, but even to animals and plants. Philo and Josephus are hardly objective witnesses; but, however grossly they exaggerate and embroider, their statements do not arise out of the void. We have corroborating evidence for Gentile embrace of Jewish ways from pagan sources like the satirist Juvenal and the philosopher Epictetus, as well as the Christian Book of Revelation. Indeed, we even have a name for such Gentiles who were enamored of Judaic practices and institutions: the “Godfearers.” The term has long been a familiar one and appears with some frequency in our literary texts, most commonly in the Acts of the Apostles. Furthermore, we have epigraphic testimony for “God-fearers” in two long donor inscriptions from the synagogue at Aphrodisias in Asia

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Displaced in Diaspora?



Minor. One of the lists is headed by the label “those who are theosebeis.” This is no register of especially pious individuals, but rather a body of persons accorded the collective designation of “God-fearers” or “Godworshippers.” And since they are separated out from the group of Jewish donors who preceded them on the stone, they are obviously Gentiles, a fact confirmed by the consistently Gentile names they possess. The term “Godfearers” obviously referred to an acknowledged group of Gentiles, distinct from Jews but closely associated with them and part of a shared society. The evidence from Aphrodisias gives decisive support to the proposition that pagans, as individuals or groups, could participate in Jewish communities with some regularity and without difficulty. “God-fearers” may not amount to an institution or a uniform body. But they testify compellingly to the accessibility of Jewish society to non-Jews – a revealing mirror of the reverse. To conclude, our data, as I have emphasized more than once, are scanty. We cannot be confident how far they are representative of Jewish life throughout the diaspora. They come from or refer to a variety of locations, circumstances, and periods, but still too few to discern changes over time. Yet I hope to have provided sufficient instances and arguments to challenge the standard lachrymose picture of Jews cut off from their roots, displaced and dispersed, languishing in an exile that they were longing to leave, and never accommodating to conditions of subordination and marginalization. That picture clearly needs serious qualification, if not abandonment. This shift in perspective, however, needs to be understood in a broader context. I do not want to suggest that diaspora Jews were altogether secure and unassailable in Greco-Roman cities. So I end on a slightly more somber note. The very openness with which Jews practiced their unique customs and displayed their distinctiveness also rendered them conspicuous – and occasionally vulnerable. When individual circumstances and contingent events seemed to threaten the stability of the larger community and demanded state action, Jews could serve as useful targets. They were among the marginal groups that the Roman government occasionally and briefly expelled from the city on ostensibly religious grounds. And Jews were also targeted when local conditions in Greek cities of Asia Minor induced the officialdom to curtail Jewish privileges or control their traditional practices and activities. It needs to be emphasized, however, that these episodes, and even the so-called pogrom in Alexandria in  CE, were hardly regular features of the Jewish experience. The expulsions were few, short-lived, and temporary. Conflicts over Jewish privileges were

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

 . 

almost exclusively concentrated in the period of Caesar and Augustus when special circumstances, including a Roman civil war, produced unusual tensions. The riots in Alexandria arose from the combustible mix of rivalries among Egyptians, Greeks, and Jews in that city, triggered by the particular situation in which the Roman prefect found himself. These rare outbursts were quite exceptional and should not be taken as representative of the diaspora experience. Nevertheless, it would be hard to deny that even the few disturbing episodes left a mark, and that many Jews, however comfortable their setting, lived with a certain wariness and an unspoken sense that the comfort might not last. A curious paradox lay at the root of it. The more that Jews became an integral part of the broader cultural milieu, the greater the need they may have felt to maintain their own traditions and observances, in order to assert the distinctiveness of their identity. It was a source of pride. But it could also be a risk and a hazard. Through much of the time, this commitment to singularity provoked nothing worse than amusement or irritation, and the Jews were left untroubled. In periods of crisis, however, whether political upheaval or regional conflict, local tensions become intensified, and cultural differences, usually ignored or just scorned, take on sudden relevance. The outsider then becomes more obvious, an easier object of scapegoating. The Jews’ very insistence upon their special attributes and mores gave them a firmer sense of self-esteem, but it also meant that, when crises came, they were readily identifiable as prospective victims. Diaspora experience, in short, was predominantly stable, untroubled, and productive. But the prospect of potential disruption could never fully vanish. Even in the sunniest of times that dark cloud hovered somewhere on the horizon.

Notes  Philo, Legatio ad Gaium, –. Note Judaea is also commonly spelled Judea.  On coerced exile as a central concept of Jewish identity, see the classic study by Yitzhak F. Baer, Galut (New York: Shocken Books, ). More recent and important works include Arnold M. Eisen, Galut: Modern Jewish Reflection on Homelessness and Homecoming (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, ); Lester L. Grabbe (ed.), Leading Captivity Captive: “The Exile” as History and Ideology (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, ); James M. Scott (ed.), Exile: Old Testament, Jewish, and Christian Conceptions (Leiden: Brill, ). For an important corrective, with a broader perspective that encompasses late antiquity and the medieval period, see Robert Chazan,

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Displaced in Diaspora?



   

      

  





Refugees or Migrants: Pre-Modern Jewish Population Movement (New Haven: Yale University Press, ). See the discussion by Aryeh Kasher, “Jewish Emigration and Settlement in Diaspora in the Hellenistic-Roman Period.” In Emigration and Settlement in Jewish and General History: A Collection of Essays, ed. Avigdor Shinan (Jerusalem: Zalman Shazar Center, ), –. E.g., The Wisdom of Ben Sira, .; Tobit, .–, .–, .–, .–; Judith, .–; Jubilees, .–; Sibylline Oracles, . –. See Willem Cornelis Van Unnik, Das Selbstverständnis der Ju¨dischen Diaspora in der Hellenistisch-Römischen Zeit (Leiden: E. J. Brill, ). See also Baer, Galut, –; Eisen, Galut, –, and Grabbe, Leading Captivity Captive. Philo, De Specialibus. Legibus, .; Acts of the Apostles, .–; Josephus, ellum Iudaicum, ., .–. Philo, In Flacum, . See Sarah Pearce, “Jerusalem as ‘Mother-City’ in the Writings of Philo of Alexandria.” In Negotiating Diaspora: Jewish Strategies in the Roman Empire, ed. John M. G. Barclay (London: T&T Clark International, ), –. See, e.g., Diodorus, Siculus, /.., ..; Josephus, Contra Apionem, .; Tacitus, Historiae, ... The sweeping survey in Lee I. Levine, The Ancient Synagogue: The First Thousand Years (New Haven: Yale University Press, ) is invaluable. On the period treated here, see –. See Bezalel Porten et al., The Elephantine Papyri in English: Three Millennia of Cross-Cultural Continuity and Change (Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV, ), –. William Horbury and David Noy, Jewish Inscriptions of Graeco-Roman Egypt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ), nos. , , . Ibid., nos. , . Philo, Legatio, . Josephus, BJ, .– (Antioch); Acts, .– (Damascus); Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum, , no.  (Cyrene); cf. Levine, Ancient Synagogue, –; Philo, Legatio, ; Acts, ., ., ., ., ., .; Walter Ameling (ed.), Inscriptiones Judaicae Orientis: Band II; Kleinasien (Tu¨bingen: Mohr Siebeck, ), no. . See collected documents in E. Leigh Gibson, The Jewish Manumission Inscriptions of the Bosporus Kingdom (Tu¨bingen: Mohr Siebeck, ). Philo, Legatio, –. See documents in David Noy, Jewish Inscriptions of Western Europe: Volume ; The City of Rome (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ). For the dating, see L. V. Rutgers, The Hidden Heritage of Diaspora Judaism (Leuven: Peeters, ), –. Excavations at Ostia are ongoing. That the uncovered structure was a synagogue seems clear from an inscription referring to “the ark for the holy law”; David Noy, Jewish Inscriptions of Western Europe: Volume ; Italy (Excluding the City of Rome), Spain and Gaul (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ), no. .

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

 . 

 Josephus, Antiquitates Iudiacae, .–, . –; David Noy, Alexander Panayotov, and Hanswulf Bloedhorn (eds.), Inscriptiones Judaicae Orientis: Volume I; Eastern Europe (Tu¨bingen: Mohr Siebeck, ), nos. –.  For a summary of the evidence, discussion, and principal bibliography, see Erich S. Gruen, Diaspora: Jews Amidst Greeks and Romans (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, ), –.  Ameling, Inscriptiones, no. .  Josephus (quoting Strabo), AJ, ..  Josephus, AJ, ., .–.  Gert Lu¨deritz, Corpus Ju¨discher Zeugnisse aus der Cyrenaika (Wiesbaden: Dr. Ludwig Reichert, ), nos. –.  James M. S. Cowey and Klaus Maresch, Urkunden des Politeuma der Juden von Herakleopolis (/ – / v. Chr.) (P. Polit. Iud.) Paprologica Coloniensia, XXIX (Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien, ).  The Letter of Aristeas, .  Philo, Legatio, , , ; Josephus, AJ, .; CAp. .–.  Strabo, in Josephus, AJ, .; cf. AJ, ..  Philo, Flacc, ; Legatio, –, , , .  Cf.  Maccabees, .; Philo, Flacc, ; Victor A. Tcherikover, Alexander Fuks, and Menahem Stern (eds.), Corpus Papyrorum Judicarum, Volume III (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, ), no. , lines –.  Josephus, AJ, .; CAp. .. Cf. BJ, ..  Josephus, AJ, ., ..  The best treatment of this subject as a whole is Bradley Ritter, Judeans in the Greek Cities of the Roman Empire: Rights, Citizenship and Civil Discord (Leiden: Brill, ).  On Roman citizenship and its wide extension, see the classic study of A. N. Sherwin-White, The Roman Citizenship (Oxford: Oxford University Press, ).  Acts, .–.  Josephus, AJ, .–, ., ..  Cicero, Pro Flacco, ; Josephus, BJ, .–, .–; AJ, .–; .–; Suetonius, Iulius, .  Philo, Legatio, ; Dionysius Halicarnassus, ...  Dion. Hal., .., ..; Sylloge Inscriptionum Graecorum, .  On Roman freedmen in general, see Henrik Mouritsen, The Freedman in the Roman World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ); Susan Treggiari, Roman Freedmen during the Late Republic (Oxford: Oxford University Press, ).  Philo, Legatio, .  Lu¨deritz, Corpus, nos. –.  Ameling, Inscriptiones, no. .  The indispensable collection of Hellenistic Jewish texts with commentary may be found in Carl R. Holladay, Fragments from Hellenistic Jewish Authors:

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Displaced in Diaspora?

  



           



Volume I; Historians (Chico: Scholars Press, ); Carl R. Holladay, Fragments from Hellenistic Jewish Authors: Volume. II; Poets (Chico: Scholars Press, ); Carl R. Holladay, Fragments from Hellenistic Jewish Authors: Volume III; Aristobulus (Atlanta: Scholars Press, ); Carl R. Holladay, Fragments from Hellenistic Jewish Authors: Volume IV; Orphica (Atlanta: Scholars Press, ). See also John M. G. Barclay, Jews in the Mediterranean Diaspora: From Alexander to Trajan ( BCE– CE) (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, ), –; Erich S. Gruen, Heritage and Hellenism: The Reinvention of Jewish Tradition (Berkeley: University of California Press, ); John J. Collins, Between Athens and Jerusalem: Jewish Identity in the Hellenistic Diaspora (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdsmans, ); John J. Collins, Jewish Cult and Hellenistic Culture: Essays on the Jewish Encounter with Hellenism and Roman Rule (Leiden: Brill, ); Lawrence M. Wills, The Jewish Novel in the Ancient World (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, ). See the excellent commentary in Howard Jacobson, The Exagoge of Ezekiel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ). Text, translation, and commentary in Holladay, Fragments, Volume II, –. See the rich bibliography on this work in Eckhart Reinmuth, Joseph und Aseneth (Tu¨bingen: Mohr Siebeck, ), –. See also Tim Whitmarsh, Dirty Love: The Genealogy of the Ancient Greek Novel (Oxford: Oxford University Press, ), –. Text, translation, and commentary in Holladay, Fragments, Volume I, –. See, also, Erich S. Gruen, “The Twisted Tales of Artapanus: Biblical Rewritings as Novelistic Narrative.” In Early Christian and Jewish Narrative: The Role of Religion in Shaping Narrative Forms, ed. Ilaria Ramelli and Judith Perkins (Tu¨bingen: Mohr Siebeck, ), –. See Erich S. Gruen, “Roman Perspectives on the Jews in the Age of the Great Revolt.” In The First Jewish Revolt: Archaeology, History, and Ideology, ed. Andrea M. Berlin and J. Andrew Overman (London: Routledge, ), –. Philo, Legatio, , –; Josephus, BJ, .; CAp. .. Noy et al., Inscriptiones, Ach no. . Horbury and Noy, Jewish Inscriptions, nos. –. See Tessa Rajak, The Jewish Dialogue with Greece and Rome: Studies in Cultural and Social Interaction (Leiden: Brill, ), –. See Ameling, Inscriptiones, no. . Noy et al., Inscriptiones, Ach no. . Ameling, Inscriptiones, no. . Josephus, AJ, .–; cf. BJ, .. Philo, De Vita Mosis, .–; cf. .. Juvenal, Satires, .–; Epictetus, in Arrian, Dissertationes, ..–; Revelation, .–. Acts, .–, ., .–, ., ., ., ., ., ., ., ., ..

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 . 

 Ameling, Inscriptiones, no. . Most scholars now put the list no earlier than the fourth century CE. See Ameling, Inscriptiones, –, with bibliography.  Only three expulsions from Rome are recorded in the whole of the Second Temple period: in  BCE,  CE, and  CE. Each can be explained by special circumstances and contingent events. See Gruen, Diaspora, –, –. For a more negative assessment, see Margaret H. Williams, “The Disciplining of the Jews of Ancient Rome: Pure Gesture Politics?” In Studies in Latin Literature and Roman History, Volume XV, Collection Latomus , ed. Carl Deroux (Bruxelles: Éditions Latomus, ), –. The number of episodes remains strikingly small over a span of nearly two centuries, possibly longer. Conflicts between Greek cities and Jewish residents, too, arose in a concentrated and particularly troubled period. For extended treatment, see M. Pucci Ben Zeev, Jewish Rights in the Roman World (Tu¨bingen: Mohr Siebeck, ). Cf. the analysis by Gruen in Diaspora, –. For important recent treatments of the riots in Alexandria, see Sandra Gambetti, The Alexandrian Riots of  C.E. and the Persecution of the Jews: A Historical Reconstruction (Leiden: Brill, ), and Ritter, Judeans, –.

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 

Interoceanic Relational Diasporas A Caribbean Perspective Supriya M. Nair

Diasporas always maintain an open horizon towards the future.

Although the somber Jewish theological overtones of diaspora inaugurate its contemporary genealogy, diasporá (noun) and diaspeirein (verb) involved a “destructive process” of scattering even for the Greeks who first used the words. One approach to distinguishing migration from diaspora has emphasized the egregious compulsion of exodus, exile, and forced resettlement in diasporic mobility rather than migration by choice or through invasion. The term “victim diasporas” refers to diasporas that lack the agency to dictate the process of their expulsion, and in this way differentiates coerced pipelines of population movement from empirebuilding or migration at large. By this definition, Indian Ocean and Black Atlantic fiction and nonfiction, including the genre of life writing, largely address diasporic rather than migratory identities. But subject formation is never stable even in dominant cultures, and the tangled subjects of diaspora are particularly open to multiple trajectories and motley forms of construction. Despite the violence, poverty, prejudice, and the accumulated losses of such experiences – constraints that begin in the homeland and continue in the hostland – the Afro- and Indo-Caribbean authors discussed in this essay do not overlook the creative, affirmative, and ethical potential of their diasporic dissemination. Each of them simultaneously stresses the struggle and the survival of their communities. However daunting the journeys and disheartening the destinations, the very process of reconstituting themselves in other lands offers possibilities of transformation, self-knowledge, and community building, so that the predominant narrative is rarely one of abject failure and victimization. More significantly, the three Caribbean writers featured here – Gaiutra Bahadur, Stuart Hall, and Caryl Phillips – stymie the circular logic of nostalgic return to the homeland that epitomizes conventional accounts of diaspora. Instead, as my epigraph from Hall’s memoir indicates, these 

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

 . 

writers set their sights on wider, incipient horizons, shadowed by melancholy but also limning a restorative future in their new locations. The process of settlement is never stable or unidirectional but constitutes multiple identities and embraces different homes, albeit tentatively. I begin with the younger female writer to disrupt the male-centric and Black Atlantic trajectory of conventional diaspora discourse in the Caribbean. Since female migrants constitute a large segment of diasporas, their contexts demand a specific lens of inquiry that may conflict with the perspectives of other constituencies but also chart potential lines of alliance, which I trace here. Bahadur’s Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture embodies the interface between the private and the public, breaching the personal boundaries of memoir and biography so thoroughly that the book is tagged as “Biography/History” on its back cover. The title’s intertextual references to the Greek epic of the heroic male wanderer and David Dabydeen’s Coolie Odyssey refute the inherently sexist implication in the scattering of male seed, as a literal reading of diaspora might suggest. The bio-history opens with an epigraph from Adrienne Rich’s poem “Cartographies of Silence,” a silence the book tussles with in recharting its “cartographies of diaspora.” Bahadur investigates the unique experiences of Indian indentured women who crossed the Indian Ocean, skirting the southern tip of Africa before navigating the southern Atlantic and heading to Caribbean plantations. Prying scant information from often “silent” archives reprises Rich’s search for a new language through which Bahadur might locate the “truths” of hitherto disregarded subjects and expose the “lies” of colonial and nativist patriarchy. Her genealogical excursions echo another such search, Saidiya Hartman’s Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route, where the “mother” becomes a metaphor for an impossible pursuit of unambiguous personal and collective geneses, and the assumed kin turn out to be strangers in the diasporic void. Intersecting the Middle Passage trajectory with the Indian Ocean voyage in the Caribbean merges two diasporas that, in the context of Guyana, Bahadur’s birthplace, have a sorry history of mutual hostility and ethnocide, sometimes compelling secondary diasporas as they fled to the North, like Bahadur’s family did. Meanwhile, the Indigenous populations are caught between the post/colonial Guyanese diasporas, making it difficult to idealize diaspora over nation or to view its constituencies as the only victims of colonialism. Vijay Prashad believes that a “‘compass of suffering’ shared by migrants of color into the heartlands of power . . . binds them in unexpected ways.”

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Interoceanic Relational Diasporas

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The phrase is borrowed from the francophone Martinican Aimé Césaire, who used it to reorient the contours of Négritude and Pan Africanism through a shared condition of affliction and potential in the black diaspora, echoing the conventional Jewish connotation. Alissa Trotz echoes Prashad’s sentiments, locating Bahadur within a larger feminist tradition of “intimacies, proximities, and relationalities,” the subtitle of Trotz’s review of Bahadur’s book. She highlights the latter’s contributions: “what was once thought of as separate – identities, spaces, histories – come together or find points of intersection in unexpected ways.” She notes as an example that Plantation Rose Hall, the site of an Indo-Guyanese riot in the early twentieth century, which Bahadur discusses, also quartered enslaved and emancipated black people in the mid-nineteenth century. I would agree with Kevin Kenny that as a diasporic route “the Middle Passage has no parallel in scale or brutality,” explaining why AfroPessimism rejects analogies with other experiences of forced migration, discrimination, and violence. According to this school of thought, the history of being viewed as subhuman and expendable continues to mark the precarity of black lives in the Western world in a way unmatched by any other history of racism. While acknowledging the uniquely brutal legacy of slavery, Bahadur also insists on other forms of discrimination and other experiences of violence. The history of aggression that inflects secondary diasporas may be inherited from European colonialism and racism, but it is marked by Afro- and Indo-Caribbean and black African and Indo-African tensions. The denigration of “coolie,” for example, is not simply an imperial tendency: the term is appropriated in Afro-Caribbean discourse, even as those of Indian heritage, including affluent trading diasporas in these regions, hold racist perceptions of black people. In tracing over the earlier Middle Passage from Africa with later voyages from India, Bahadur evokes a kinship of “suffering” between enslaved and indentured communities, even as she discloses the tensions and differences between the voyagers and the outcome of their journeys. The “C-word,” broken off to indicate its contemporary afterlife in the Caribbean as an ethnic and class slur, is reclaimed in the defiant use of its full form, the “coolie,” which “may bare a jagged edge, like a broken bottle raised in threat” (p. xxi). Despite the bravado, the menacing, metaphoric weapon can be literally turned against the wielder, as in the United States, where Bahadur’s immediate family flees to escape the societal chaos and the ethnic violence between Afro-and Indo-Guyanese communities, only to learn – during the xenophobic “Dot Buster” phase of the late eighties in New Jersey (p. ) –

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of an American chasing an Indian man with a broken bottle. Bahadur’s perplexed identity feels further stressed by US-based Indians from India who patronize Indo-Caribbean communities – all diasporas are not created equal, even when they share a national heritage. The violence in her birthplace of Guyana and the alienation from her ancestral homeland of India reduce her to a “nervous condition,” exacerbated by fresh threats in the new and inhospitable North American hostland. The diasporic subject must negotiate space and refashion identity from a perpetually shifting quagmire. Lyrical celebrations of mobility are held in check by the yearning for what Caryl Phillips would call “higher ground,” a sanctuary where one does not feel hunted and unwelcome. Bahadur does not overlook the European heritage in the Caribbean, even if she is less likely to view that community as a victim diaspora. In remapping her routes from the United States to Guyana, India, and Scotland, Bahadur situates herself as a subject of multiple diasporas and global circuits. Although not of Scottish descent, she uncovers markers of her cultural and colonial heritage in Scotland. Reflecting on her visit to the Scottish Rosehall, the namesake of the Guyanese plantation where Bahadur’s ancestor labored, she writes “Any definitive answer [to her searching inquiries] lies in the fog beyond memory and record-keeping. But all around the Scottish Rosehall, the road signs pointed to places I knew from Berbice’s Atlantic coast” (p. ). The uncanny afterimages are symptomatic of the blinding glare of colonial history, repeating themselves on distant shores and confounding the gaze of the traveler who seeks genealogical insight into the intertwined family trees and echo chambers of her lineage. Piecing together bits of her heritage in scattered parts of the empire, Bahadur is left with fragments and gaps, unable to come up with a cohesive story of her origins as she travels from one site to another. Like Rich, Bahadur acclaims women defying societal restrictions as transgressors who challenge cultural and geographical barriers and purposefully cross the boundaries set for them. Hindu mythology scripts the physical defacement and violence against such women, but Indian women who broke the taboo against crossing the ocean (Kala Pani or black water) and leaving their “motherland” risked even greater violence on the other side. Invoking the Ramayana, the cherished epic of Indo-Caribbean Hindus, Bahadur equates the stricter taboo of Kala Pani for women with the Laskhmanrekha that prohibits Sita, Ram’s royal consort and fellow exile in the forest, from straying too far from home. Despite her initial belief that the personal and the political are discrete spaces, Bahadur charts her mutinous errancy from Indo-Caribbean domestic edicts as a challenge to

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the traditional order in India, where she has never lived. Not only is leaving the nation space associated with taboos for everyone, but men draw lines in the sand and restrict women to their limited spheres even within the nation space. As a single woman who travels alone to India in search of her great-grandmother Sujaria’s native village and extended family, Bahadur keeps overstepping contemporary Indian interdictions against female mobility. “I also wanted access to the places reserved for men,” she announces, dissolving the gendered nation-diaspora binary (p. ). Not quite at ease in either the immediate or ancestral homeland – Guyana or India – she claims an American identity to explain her selfdetermined itinerancy, portraying emigration as a “magician’s box . . . [that] had set [her] free as well as cut [her] in half” (p. ). About a century after Sujaria left Indian shores, Bahadur wonders if leaving Guyana for the United States had “liberated” her in the same way that leaving India for the Caribbean had emancipated her great-grandmother. Departing the repressive homeland(s), then, is recognized as a gain for such women, not simply the catastrophic loss that it signifies in sentimental definitions of diaspora. Bahadur’s cutting, chopping, and transplanting tropes which figure homelands as a moving target do more than graft new identities in “unaccustomed earth.” As with Bahadur’s metaphor of the magician’s box, they also collect visible cicatrices and open gaping wounds from the past. Recurring images of shards, chopped limbs, and fragments sunder the narrative, not in a tenderly cohesive manner, as in Derek Walcott’s oftcited phrase of the mended broken vase or in Wilson Harris’s recuperative limbo theory that salvage the possibility of suturing the continental ruptures which make up post-Columbian, Caribbean societies repopulated by involuntary migrant laborers. Rather, various scraps of history, archive, identity, and place fall into untesselated mosaics that chafe each other, never quite assembling themselves into a harmonious “thing of beauty,” the “stainedglass English” of Guyanese Creole perhaps being an exception (p. ). From the charmed space of the “magician’s box,” Bahadur returns to Hindu mythology and traces a disquieting correlation of fragmentation with women’s histories of embodied violence. The chapter “Beautiful Woman without a Nose” takes its title from a lesser-known prelude in the abduction story of Sita in Hindu mythology, moving us from the interdictory policing of the Lakshmanrekha to the Eastern version of witch hunts and the disciplinary Scarlet Letter, here a literal vigilante amputation, rather than a symbolic mark of shame. The chapter title does not name the figure that inspired it. Surpanakha (“long nails” in Sanskrit) was the sister of Ravan, the main villain of the epic. But it was Surpanakha who

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instigated her brother into abducting Sita (the chaste, ideal wife), after the demoness’s seduction of the royal brothers backfired and Lakshman sliced off her nose in divinely sanctioned retribution. This unruly, bloodied figure is excised from Bahadur’s chapter title not to delete her myth, but more likely because she epitomizes a broader historical story that exceeds a proper name or specific location. She could be any woman where patriarchal decorum was reinstated and innumerable women’s faces were hacked for their perceived transgressions, joining acid attacks and honor killings in a timeworn tradition of maiming, shaming, and taming rebellious women. The final chapter of the book provides a relentless account of dismembering, mutilation, suicide, and murder – often with the agency of the bull whip and machete – ravaging Indo-Guyanese communities and entrenching domestic violence in the brutal labor regimes of the plantation, which sometimes provided a fertile breeding ground for patriarchal force and ethnic rivalries even as it challenged them. Familiar Stranger: A Life Between Two Islands, by Stuart Hall, which was published posthumously, is a less violent account of diasporic formation than Bahadur’s, but it traces the traumatic legacy of Black Atlantic slavery that structures Hall’s departure from Jamaica to England. Hall’s memoir has other interlocutors: his spouse, Catherine Hall, and his collaborator, Bill Schwarz, whose transcription of Hall’s copious and scattered notes becomes more central in Hall’s final years, which were affected by poor eyesight and failing memory. The voice of the memoir is therefore indeterminate, although it was published in the first-person rather than in the original dialogic structure as a conversation between Hall and Schwarz. The latter says of his role as amanuensis: “Some parts are verbatim, while many others have been constructed from fragments” (p. xv). He admits that he did not always intervene when the various drafts did not tally, an acknowledgement, like Bahadur’s, of the haziness of memory that challenges the reliability of memoir and demonstrates the instability of not just the official but also the personal archive. As the narrative proceeds, the intellectual and political milieus of London and Birmingham from the s onward thicken the individual life, with forays into Hall’s adolescence in Jamaica. Although he eventually decides not to return, he claims never to have felt exiled from Jamaica because he made periodic visits back. The composite being that Hall reconstructs is the very stuff of diaspora: in his case, as in Bahadur’s, a triangulated one whose lines intersect and enmesh him. In contrast to Bahadur, whose journey begins “in the personal rather than the political” (p. ), Hall acknowledges at the outset that his memoir will not keep to the bounds of the personal. While he embraces his

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multiethnic heritage, which includes East Indian and Portuguese Jewish antecedents, he focuses mainly on his black identity, which plays a primary part of his African, Jamaican, and British heritage, intimately if disruptively linked through colonialism and its legacies. “I was, involuntarily, hailed by and interpellated into a broader social discourse. Only by discovering this did I begin to understand that what black identity involved was a social, political, historical and symbolic event, not just a personal, and certainly not simply a genetic, one,” he observes (p. ). Even as Hall stakes an identity, its filaments or rhizomes (in Édouard Glissant’s use of the term) spread in different directions, embedded in as well as constituted by larger social networks, such that it is never a standalone “I” that is the subject of the memoir. Against any singular master narrative of colonialism, the diasporas that comprise Hall and Bahadur are necessarily split, a fissure reflected in their garbled sense of self. Hall asserts [British colonialism was] one of the most far-reaching, brutal ruptures in modern history equivalent in depth to the Holocaust, although – surprisingly? – this is a comparison which is not often made. It irreversibly reshaped societies and individuals. It bequeathed that most soul-destroying of legacies: the contradictory and distorted state of alienation which Frantz Fanon described as “black skin, white masks.” It went to great lengths to refashion us, the subjugated colonials, as simulacra of itself. It “othered” us to ourselves. (p. )

This radical sense of estrangement, which might precede, accompany, and operate independently of physical exile, is partly a consequence of colonial education which, in Hall’s childhood in Jamaica, did not include Indigenous, slave, or indentured Caribbean history, let alone African history, in any meaningful way. Hall’s turbulent relationship with his national history and public self, however, begins literally in the household, with his mother, who is the colonial mimic woman. His intermittent critiques of her reveal that exile begins before physical departure and he partly blames her for his increasing remoteness from “loyal, middle-class, brown colonials” who seem just as threatened by class unrest, Pan-Africanism, and black consciousness as white colonial elites in Jamaica (p. ). Although his individual family dynamics are acknowledged as unique from the male-dominated society of his time, Hall nevertheless links his anglophile mother to the mother country of England. The controlling mother and her misplaced sense of colonial loyalty led to his domestic disharmony even before he leaves for Oxford, to which he ironically escapes partly as a refuge from her regressive

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class/color superiority. “I wonder if inside my family life this displaced larger history [of Jamaica] was in some way being restaged, in its own theatre, with its own disturbing psychic properties,” he speculates (p. ). Feeling “out of place or displaced,” the “waywardness” of diasporic subjectivity, Hall insists, stalks those whose history was conscripted by colonialism, so that they were inevitably estranged from their past (p. ). In the continuing sense of uncanny filiation, he unsettlingly discovers that his flight to the colonial metropolis simply returns him to the same issues of class conflict, colorism, and race discrimination that he fled from, so that England and Jamaica become mirror images of each other. What Hall also finds when he migrates is that the presumed familiarity which made his journey to England possible was a mirage. The misrecognition of colonial kinship that deluded his mother’s community is laid bare in the heart of empire. Toward the end of his book, when Hall explains his growing problems with various English institutions like Oxford University, the New Left, and the esteemed icons of cultural studies who would not give race the attention he felt it warranted, he locates himself not simply as an illegitimate son of a colonial family romance, but as a historical error, initiated centuries before by Columbus’s navigational repositioning of India in the Americas. Unlike the slaves of the Middle Passage and the “victim diasporas” of the Windrush generation, Hall realizes that he belongs to a relatively more privileged group of migrants who access the advantages of economic and cultural capital. His Middle Passage legacy ultimately presages his more fortuitous path from Jamaica to the colonial metropolis, but it also dissociates him from the nation to which he, mistakenly, believed he belonged. “The English persuaded me that I could never become English,” he declares (p. ). But, even as he makes this extraordinary admission of unbelonging, irrespective of his international reputation as a scholar in the United Kingdom, Hall admits that Jamaica, despite his melancholic pleasure in the visceral memories of the place, especially as he ages and is no longer able to travel there, does not offer a space of full inclusion either. Like Bahadur, temporary returnees like him “in the language of Jamaicans, ‘came from foreign’.” Also like her, he continues ruefully “Once more I was out of place, this time – again – in my native land” (p. ). This instability haunts diasporic subjects wherever they are, as Bahadur realizes in New York, in Bihar, and even back in her birthplace, where she gets “a look reserved for clueless foreigners” when she returns (p. ). She finds her homecoming in Guyana more than a decade after she left it “profoundly strange” (p. ) and feels as withdrawn from her “native” land

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as she is from India and her new residence in the United States. In his collection of essays, A New World Order, Caryl Phillips poignantly captures the unsettling chasm that is continually navigated between perpetual mobility and secure dwelling. Each episode of continental travel, each entry into a beguiling Promised Land – an unnamed location in subSaharan Africa, New York City, St. Kitts, Leeds – for different reasons, ends with the paradoxically melancholic refrain “I feel at home here, but I don’t belong.” What Homi Bhabha calls “vernacular cosmopolitans,” the minorities in the West who travel between spaces that offer temporary and often reluctant homes “are compelled to make a tryst with cultural translation as an act of survival.” The term Phillips coins, “compulsive itinerancy,” shares a similar sense of being driven, obliged to assume a cosmopolitan identity that shuttles between different cultures not with the ease of dominating elites, but as a desperate “survival” strategy. Phillips’s emphasis on a repetitive if enforced itinerancy hints at the Freudian uncanny in its compulsive movement, and in the contradictory sense of the uncanny materializing not simply from what is strange or foreign, but from what is also familiar, what is most intimate and connected to the home. The anxiety of being lost even on familiar ground, making one fear what one could encounter in its hidden crannies, or be unnerved by the surfacing of repressed memories and the “involuntary repetition” of scene and event explains Phillips’s confusing sense of not wholly being at home anywhere, even when at home, especially when “home” keeps shifting for him. That same conundrum is more defiantly articulated in his edited collection Extravagant Strangers: A Literature of Belonging, which plays on the notion of extra-vagrancy even as it refutes it by “belonging.” Deriving the main title from a phrase in Othello, where Roderigo refers to the “lascivious Moor” as the “extravagant and wheeling stranger / Of here and everywhere” who has eloped with the fair Desdemona, the volume includes excerpts from early African migrants such as Ukawsaw Gronniosaw in the eighteenth century to modern Jamaican dub poets like Linton Kwesi Johnson who settle in England even if, as Kwesi Johnson’s poetic narrator glumly concludes, “Inglan is a Bitch.” The disquieting sense of foreignness, of continually being off kilter, plagues nonwhite diasporic and national subjects to different degrees, but adds lethal risk for black residents in the West, no matter how long they have lived there. Indeed, as the #Black Lives Matter movement reminds us, racism against black people pushes them not simply beyond the pale of the nation but outside the category of the human. As in Kwesi Johnson’s “Inglan is a Bitch,” the branding of the outsider as a folk devil keeps him

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on edge and forces him into chronic vagrancy, which is then criminalized, a dynamic illustrated in the story of David Oluwale from Caryl Phillip’s book Foreigners. A hybrid blend of journalistic reportage, biography, poetic fiction, and historical events, Foreigners divides its three main sections by the three historical men it selects for its excerpts: “Dr. [Samuel] Johnson’s faithful negro servant, Francis Barber,” who is dying destitute less than two decades after Johnson’s death; Randolph Turpin, the mixed-race British middleweight champion boxer, who dies by suicide; and David Oluwale, a Yoruba stowaway and transient who is hounded by a couple of cops in late s Leeds, and drowns in the River Aire while fleeing from their harassment. Recounting the deaths of three male figures through a time span from the mid-eighteenth century to the late s provides a broad canvas for Phillips to focus on the perils of race, especially for black men in Britain. Phillips’s recourse to narrative strategies like the indeterminate speaker, confusing time schemes, and the choric voice in many of his books reaches a crescendo in the last section on Oluwale. Even in the previous sections, it is hard to pin down the unnamed first-person narrator (possibly inspired by James Boswell), who is an intimate of Dr. Johnson. It is likewise difficult to identify the biographer/essayist/journalist who gets to meet Turpin’s daughters after his tragic suicide in the second section, most of which is related in the third person. The words “forsaken” and “abandoned” are repeated in Phillips’s novels, as character after character inherits the terrible legacies of Black Atlantic slavery. The disjointed vignettes that compose his novels, the fragmented stories of characters from different contexts who are either on the move or pushed to the fringes of their societies, cast a dreary shadow over “victim” diasporas that seem unable to free themselves from bleak lives and even bleaker deaths. Barber, Turpin, and Oluwale all die in various stages of decrepitude. Barber is bedridden and senile in a workhouse infirmary; Turpin is bankrupt, defeated, and possibly suffering from the brain damage that is a hazard of his profession before he shoots himself and his daughter; and Oluwale returns from stints in prison and the asylum back to the streets in worse condition than before, aggravating his already fragile mental health. Oluwale’s is perhaps the most powerful portion of the book, and his story is told by multiple narrators who merge into a chorus that relates his story in retrospective installments, from different perspectives, all sympathetically. The present is informed by the past and gestures toward a future tinted by the public outrage over Oluwale’s death. One of the narrators, a fourteenyear-old girl, addresses him directly after his death, both by his first name

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and as a “Yoruba boy” (pp. –). The anaphoric apostrophe is not meant to validate his rejection as a resident of England; instead, the lack of the personal name here pays tribute to his West African heritage and emphasizes why he is hounded by the cops, illustrating Hall’s insight that his black identity is multiply, not singularly, constituted. Supplemented by historical information that reveals the migratory history of Leeds – from Roman and Norman conquest to populations of Irish, Lithuanians, Hungarians, Poles, Asians, and West Indians in modern times, including Jews in the nineteenth century – Oluwale’s presence in Leeds becomes one of multitudes that journeyed there unapproved even as Britain forcefully and righteously consolidated its empire in overseas territories. The brief prefatory section of Phillips’s novel Crossing the River, told in the first-person by an (allegorical) African father confessing his guilt and sorrow at having sold his children in desperate times, sounds an optimistic note of survival and new beginnings: For two hundred and fifty years I have listened to the many-tongued chorus . . . For two hundred and fifty years I have longed to tell them: Children, I am your father. I love you. But understand. There are no paths in water. No signposts. There is no return . . . You are beyond. Broken-off, like limbs from a tree. But not lost, for you carry within your bodies the seeds of new trees. Sinking your hopeful roots into difficult soil.

However, like the rest of Phillips’s elegiac work, Foreigners renders suspect the possibility of rerooting. A local activist, one of the several narrators in the final section of the book, insists that Oluwale’s death was not futile, because it exposed police brutality against black people and led “to black and white people finally saying ‘enough’” (p. ). Although Oluwale is buried in a pauper’s cemetery, the narrative ends with an avowal of black ontology that also serves as an ironic epitaph: “You are still in Leeds. Forever in Leeds” (p. ). While the section acts upon the local graffiti to “Remember Oluwale,” Leeds as terminus for his corpse is at best an equivocal sign. The dead settling their mortal remains in the soil they were never allowed to consider home while alive seems an ambiguous achievement; and the hope that Oluwale’s death in  from police harassment signals the possibility that black lives like his will matter seems premature half a century later. But Oluwale’s refusal to leave Leeds despite the recurrent beatings from cops signifies the persistence of black communities in the face of intractable racism in the West. The idealized fantasy of the return narrative is not indulged in many of Phillips’s novels, and Hall likewise had little interest

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in permanently returning to Jamaica or in going “back to Africa,” although he was sympathetic to Pan-Africanism and never turned his back on his Jamaican heritage even when London compelled him to become West Indian. He categorically rejects the return myth of Zionism as a model for diasporic consummation (p. ). While Phillips frequently faces the Middle Passage with the Holocaust, he is quite critical of proprietary diasporic claims on the continent, including by black supporters of the American Colonization Society. Bahadur also notes that several indentured men and women decided to leave for India but then returned to the Caribbean, although many of their descendants left the region again for the North. Her own search for her roots ends indecisively since she never retrieves Sujaria’s origins. She adopts the choric voice favored by Phillips when she renounces her claim to the individual story of the (auto)biography and embraces the collective one she discovered along the way “the story of what happened to the many other women like my great-grandmother” (p. ). Even more strikingly, Bahadur accepts the inevitability of errors and deliberate falsehoods in the topographies – physical and symbolic – of her journey to India: mustard stalks are (mis)identified as saffron; the translator may not be accurately translating; the family that claims her may not be her relatives at all; the X where she believes Sujaria came from is a questionable encryption on her map. The founding violence of the archive and even of her search is acknowledged since genealogical resuscitation is never complete or successful. Bahadur draws upon the “critical fabulation” that Hartman turns to for such writing, and the frequently interrogative mode of her narration, with entire paragraphs structured as a series of unanswered and contradictory questions, highlights the irrevocably incomplete nature of the quest. Diaspora involves a continuing process of formation, a state of flux that is both disconcerting and constructive. Even as they stake a ground in which to dwell, these writers make tenuous claims to other places, sometimes inhabiting an intangible space that lies betwixt them. For Bahadur, Hall, and Phillips, the fragments of the diasporic condition do not enable tidy closures or neat endings. “Montage is its lifeblood,” Hall concludes (p. ), while Bahadur and Phillips etch its ragged, unfinished patterns. Diaspora aesthetic, therefore, is as manifold and myriad as the varied hues of its subjects, but it is in the dynamic shards of the multipolar crossings that Hall finds “a new site of knowledge” (p. ). In rejecting the teleological bent of conventional diaspora, which steers toward a return to origins, these writers point to a future that holds no guarantees, but where the promise that kindled their journeys still lingers.

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Notes  Stuart Hall, Familiar Stranger: A Life between Two Islands, ed. Bill Schwarz (Durham: Duke University Press, ), . Subsequent references are from this edition.  Kevin Kenny, Diaspora: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, ), . For an alternative account, see Gruen (Chapter ).  Robin Cohen, “Four Phases of Diaspora Studies.” In The Routledge Diaspora Studies Reader, ed. Klaus Stierstorfer and Janet Wilson (London: Routledge, ), . Cohen groups Indians under the “labour diaspora,” but Gaiutra Bahadur finds some common ground between the latter and a “victim diaspora.”  Gaiutra Bahadur, Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, ). Subsequent references are from this edition. As with Stuart Hall’s Familiar Stranger and Caryl Phillips, ed., Extravagant Strangers: A Literature of Belonging (New York: Vintage, ) and Caryl Phillips, Foreigners (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, ), Bahadur engages significant academic research.  David Dabydeen, Coolie Odyssey, reprint (Hertford: Hansib, ). For queer readings of diaspora, see Gayatri Gopinath, Unruly Visions: The Aesthetic Practices of Queer Diasporas (Durham: Duke University Press, ); Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley, Ezili’s Mirrors: Imagining Black Queer Genders (Durham: Duke University Press, ).  Avtar Brah, Cartographies of Diaspora: Contesting Identities (London: Routledge, ). Brah focuses on the intersectional aspects of the BritAsian diaspora, whereas Bahadur writes from the United States on Indians from the Caribbean.  Saidiya Hartman, Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, ). Like Hall’s mother, Hartman’s biological mother distances herself from her Southern past of poverty and from her African heritage. Part of searching for genealogy seems to involve overcoming the resistance of one’s immediate family. Or, as Bahadur puts it, “The will to remember the past is undermined by an equally formidable will to forget” (p. ).  Continued unrest in Guyana is now roiled by potential petro-wealth, positioning the two majority communities as rivals for resources. See Anatoly Kurmanaev, “Crisis Deepens in Tiny Guyana, the World’s Newest Petro State.” The New York Times, March , , available at: https://www .nytimes.com////world/americas/Guyana-election.html (last accessed August , ).  Vijay Prashad, “Foreword: Speaking of Saris.” In Migritude, by Shailja Patel (New York: Kaya Press, ), iv. Further references are from this edition.  D. Alissa Trotz, “Gaiutra Bahadur’s Coolie Woman: Intimacies, Proximities, Relationalities.” Small Axe, , no. , (): .  Ibid., .  Kenny, Diaspora, .

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 . 

 See Patrice Douglass, Selamawit D. Terrefe, and Frank B. Wilderson, “AfroPessimism.” In Oxford Bibliographies Online (), available at: www .oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-/obo-.xml (last accessed February , ). For a longer account, see Jared Sexton, “Afro-Pessimism: The Unclear Word.” Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge,  (), available at: https://doi .org/./rhiz/.e (last accessed August , ).  Stuart Hall notes in Familiar Stranger that his sister, who suffered a breakdown related to the colorism in her family circle, referred to Hall as a “coolie baby,” a slur in Jamaica addressing both ethnicity and class at the time (p. ). Meanwhile, in India, dark complexion is demeaned as either “Dravidian” or “black.” V. S. Naipaul believed that, in the Caribbean, black and Indian mutual denigration was a desperate attempt to climb the colonial hierarchy. While Hall has no time for Naipaul’s insecure (by the latter’s admission) sense of superiority (p. ), he expresses dismay over the racial impasse in Guyana and over the white working-class refusal to seek affinities with black migrants in England. The consequences of ignoring such affinities cannot be understated, since one of the keystones of British colonialism was to divide and rule (p. ).  Caryl Phillips, Higher Ground (New York: Vintage, ).  Kala Pani (translation from Hindi: black water) signifies the taboo against oceanic voyages for Hindus: leaving their homeland would mean losing caste. The diasporic exile is thus literally an outcaste. The woman’s domestic enclosure within the nation charts a different gendered restriction. In the Ramayana, during their exile from the royal court, Sita sends Ram chasing after an enchanted deer, not realizing that it is the demon Ravan’s ruse to isolate her from the manly hero. The deer mimics Ram’s voice and calls out for help, and Sita begs Lakshman, his loyal brother left to guard her, to go to his aid. Lakshmanrekha (Lakshman’s line), sometimes depicted as slashed by his arrow on the earth, sometimes as a streak of fire, is drawn to prevent Sita from crossing its protective boundary near their hut. As in Satan’s manipulation of Eve, Ravan in disguise dupes her, and she crosses the line, to face yet another exile in his kingdom before being rescued by the brothers after they wage war against the demon king. Women of any religion in the nineteenth century were restricted from travel, but the formidable mythology restraining chaste women made it particularly fraught for Hindu women to travel out of bounds, making Kala Pani crossing even more treacherous.  Jhumpa Lahiri, Unaccustomed Earth (New York: Alfred Knopf, ). The collection of stories borrows its title from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s phrase, which approves of leaving one’s roots in search of new ground. Lahiri’s deeply melancholic narratives, however, reveal the high cost of migrating, even when the diaspora is relatively privileged.  Derek Walcott, The Antilles: Fragments of Epic Memory; The Nobel Lecture (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, ), n.p.; Wilson E. Harris, “History, Fable and Myth in the Caribbean and Guianas.” Caribbean Quarterly, , no. – ([] ): –.

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 Édouard Glissant, “Errantry, Exile.” In Poetics of Relation, trans. Betsy Wing (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, ), . Glissant borrows the concept from Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari but reworks it for the Caribbean context.  Caryl Phillips, A New World Order: Essays (New York: Vintage, ).  Homi Bhabha, “The Vernacular Cosmopolitan.” In Voices of the Crossing: The Impact of Britain on Writers from Asia, the Caribbean, and Africa, ed. Ferdinand Dennis and Naseem Khan (London: Serpent’s Tail, ), .  Sigmund Freud, “The ‘Uncanny’.” In The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. XVII, trans. James Strachey (London: Hogarth Press, ), .  Phillips, Extravagant Strangers.  William Shakespeare, Othello, ed. M. R. Ridley (London: Routledge, ), ..–.  Linton Kwesi Johnson, “Inglan Is a Bitch.” In Extravagant Strangers: A Literature of Belonging (New York: Vintage, ), –.  Phillips, Foreigners, . Further references are from this edition.  Caryl Phillips, Crossing the River [] (New York: Vintage, ), –.  Saidiya Hartman, “Venus in Two Acts.” Small Axe, , no.  (): . Trotz also notes the correspondence with Hartman’s slave archive projects. Trotz, “Gaiutra Bahadur’s Coolie Woman,” .

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The Language of Lakay Diaspora as Project and Process in Haitian Cultural Production Régine Michelle Jean-Charles Yet diaspora as an imagined community misses this important point: the diaspora is not only – or even primarily – a product of the imagination, but a fabricated space.

A recognizable trope of diaspora studies, “home” throbs with meaning. It conjures nostalgia, longing, positive affects, difficult memories, and more. Toupre pa lakay. Being close is not the same as being home. Lakay. Home. Lakay mwen. My home. The Haitian Kreyòl word lakay translates with a double meaning that signifies both house and home. Its origin, from the Old French word for house, hints at a colonial heritage. A conflated house and home presents overlapping material and immaterial spheres. In this essay, I pursue the relationship between house and home in the Haitian context as a way to probe the notion of diaspora as project and process. Conceptualizing diaspora as process and project builds upon the work of scholars theorizing diaspora, including Robin D. G. Kelley, Tiffany Patterson, and Shana L. Redmond. In their landmark essay “Unfinished Migrations: Reflections on the African Diaspora and the Making of the Modern World,” Kelley and Patterson offer a broad history of the term, delineating its impact across fields, carefully distinguishing between diasporic consciousness and identity. Theorizing the diaspora from their perspectives as historians, while attentive nonetheless to the term’s interdisciplinary percolations, Kelley and Patterson argue that diaspora is a process and a condition. “As a process it is always in the making, and as a condition it is situated within global race and gender hierarchies.” Riffing off of those conclusions for the more recent Keywords for African American Studies, Redmond identifies “the African diaspora [as] a people, process, encounter, ambition, and project.” How does the concept of lakay create space for understanding diaspora as process and project? This essay focuses on how diaspora as process, project, and encounter unfold in the Haitian context. Process, as I understand it, refers to how diasporas are always in 

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the process of being made. As an entity constantly in the making, diaspora is inherently processual – it is always in action. Diaspora as project suggests that it is future-oriented, tethered to world-making claims. The sensorial and affective registers for experiencing lakay are prominently displayed in Joanne Hyppolite’s autobiographical essay “Dyaspora.” Hyppolite describes lakay, her house located in Boston, through the eyes of a child: Your house . . . is your island . . . it represents Haiti to you. It is where your grandmother refused to learn English, where goods like ripe mangoes, plantains, djondjon and hard white blobs of mints come to you in boxes through the mail. At your communion and birthday parties, all of Boston Haiti seems to gather in your house to eat griyo and sip kremas. It takes forever for you to kiss every cheek, some of them heavy with face powder, some of them damp with perspiration, some of them scratchy with face hair, and some of them giving you a perfume headrush as you swoop in . . . It is where your mother’s andeyo Kreyol accent and your father’s lavil French accent make sometimes beautiful, sometimes terrible music together . . . You are dragged to Haitian plays, Haitian bals, and concerts where in spite of yourself the rhythms make you sway . . . Outside of your house, you are forced to sink or swim in American waters . . . As any diaspora child knows, Haitian parents are not familiar with these waters.

The home (located in Haiti) flows into the house (in Boston). Hyppolite’s “island house” is as a physical space redolent of experiences that are aural (sounds of music and Kreyòl language), oral (taste of food – griyo), visual (the sight of boxes), olfactory (perfume headrush), tactile (scratchy cheeks), inherently Haitian and transplanted into Boston. Hyppolite makes clear that “your house” is the physical space inhabited in the diaspora that nonetheless contains the “homeland,” the country of origin. She notes that outside of the house danger looms, especially for her Haitian parents, observing that this generation struggles to “navigate these waters.” This characterization evinces a public and private dialectic at work in diasporic identity formation. Hyppolite’s description of “your house [as] your island” and the dangers that lurk outside of it could also suggest new directions for defining diaspora in relation to the material space of “home” as well as traditional feminist concepts of the private/public sphere integration. In what follows I explore how these dynamics unfold in three texts by contemporary Haitian artists: the novel La dot de Sara () by MarieCélie Agnant, two short stories by Edwidge Danticat from Krik? Krak! (), and the song “Fo m Ale” () by Emeline Michel. Taking an approach that is both multilingual (French, English, Kreyòl) and

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multigenre (essay, short story, novel, song), my methodology advances a broader argument about the need to study Haitian literature comparatively and through cultural studies. For these authors, their view of the potential harm of being in diaspora underscores process and project. Learning to navigate treacherous waters and attempting to create a life in diaspora is a process that this cultural production wrestles with. Together these texts show how examining lakay as process and project maps shifting definitions of diaspora. In other words, migration results in the house becoming a space where the home can be recreated. Moving outside of the house underscores just how far one is from home. Deploying notions of opposing public and private spheres helps to frame the endemic challenges of living in diaspora. A feminist reading of Hyppolite’s use of interior and exterior spaces prompts a reevaluation of the limitations of the public/private dichotomy, which Black feminists have long contested. Hyppolite’s understanding of the porous relationship between house and home establishes it as what Ayo Abiétou Coly describes as “the anchor without which [people] become fragmented individuals . . . the site of one’s intimate life and refuge,” despite being surrounded by a foreign community, which represents danger, hostility, and cold. Hyppolite identifies this dynamic when she opposes the harmful waters outside of the home, to the island house, as a place of intimacy, even though it brings comfort as well as discomfort. Her understanding mirrors the relationship to the homeland as a space that is comforting and uncomfortable, given that such political realities often lead to the condition of exile to begin with. As Carole Boyce Davies points out in her theorization of how home figures in the work of Caribbean women writers, “Home, conflated here as a move toward a ‘myth of unitary origin’ as is nationalism becomes radically disrupted . . . The woman writer then doubly disrupts the seamless narrative of home and so of the nation.” Caribbean feminist writers have been instrumental in deconstructing “home” to unveil its multiple meanings, especially when it signifies hardship and harm. As a trope of diaspora, lakay could slide easily into becoming a fixed referent, but as project and process it requires negotiation. In her groundbreaking study Geographies of the Haitian Diaspora, Regine O. Jackson explains that “indifference to the diversity of diaspora spaces could reproduce the homogenizing effect of older theoretical approaches and erase important structural and cultural differences in the experiences of Haitian diasporans.” Following Jackson’s aim “to interrupt the continuity of scholarship on diaspora where binary oppositions – between diaspora and territory, or identity and place – have becomes

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commonplace,” I analyze lakay as a site of contestation in which the concept of diaspora can be unmade. A consideration of this fiction through Wendy Walters’s insightful critical frame for reading diasporic literature reveals how Hyppolite, Danticat, and Agnant “unsettle the binary between home and diaspora, opening up both terms for redefinition.” Attention to diaspora as house and home unsettles those binaries in Black feminist ways. For Hyppolite, what happens inside of the island house allows home to be present in diaspora and dissolves the boundary between the two. My analysis rereads how Haitian cultural workers living in diaspora use binaries to unsettle these boundaries and to expose the limitations constraining theories of diaspora. Dissolving the boundaries between house and home is a decidedly feminist preoccupation. As M. Jacqui Alexander suggests in Pedagogies of Crossing, we must excavate the “continuities between home and exile.” What strikes me about “continuities” is how it aligns with diaspora as a process and project rather than as a fixed binary. Black feminist scholars of diaspora have theorized the variegated implications of home, interrogating its utility and critiquing how it figures normatively and romantically. Belinda Edmondson rightly observes that it is a truism of feminist theory that if the domestic space has traditionally been marked as innately and appropriately feminine, then the public space is masculine, such that any crossing of the boundaries by women from private to public space must be interrogated and assessed as either a proper intervention that preserves the woman’s femininity, or a social violation that masculinizes or otherwise pathologizes her.

Of course, the relationship between diaspora and home needs no elaboration since the definition of diaspora requires a homeland or point of origin. But understanding how the concept of homeland has been increasingly destabilized in articulations of diaspora is an invitation to dislodge “home” from homeland. Or, as Stuart Hall contends, the idea of homeland operates as “symbolic imagery” that offers, at best, “a backwards-looking conception of diaspora.” Indeed, as the work of Jennifer Williams, Donette Francis, and others make clear, for many Black feminist writers, the homeland can become a troubling site of subject formation, often closely linked to violence in the forms of incest, violence targeting lesbian and queer women, sexual abuse, and domestic violence. Caribbean writers assiduously expose the violence and trauma that the private home sphere and the homeland can introduce for Black women, as we see in Nicole Dennis-Benn’s Patsy (), Edwidge Danticat’s Breath, Eyes, Memory

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(), Marie-Célie Agnant’s La Dot de Sara, and Loida Maritza Pérez’s Geographies of Home (). For many Caribbean feminist authors, the facile romanticized identification with home as a space of connection and nostalgic longing gets thrown into question, as they show how women can become victims in their homes through the intersections of race, class, sexuality, and gender. The result troubles conventional understandings of diaspora since one can be simultaneously at home and displaced. When home is a place of harm, the unsafe waters to navigate exist within the walls, spilling into the rooms that women inhabit. When Wendy Walters explains that “displacement allows a distance by which writers encode critique of their homelands, construct new homelands, envision new communities,” she refers to dynamics in which the project of diaspora challenges the pain of the homeland. If, as Walters argues, “literary narratives [are] crucial ongoing sites where . . . diaspora claims are made, unmade, contested or reinforced,” then looking at diaspora as process and project clears space for a retheorizing home that wrests it from exclusively connoting homeland. Two stories in Danticat’s Krik? Krak! typify this understanding of the dialogic relationship between house and home, inviting us to explore lakay as process and project. “New York Day Women” marks the book’s physical entry into the diaspora. It is located in the book’s second section as the first in a series of three stories that are not set in Haiti. The title acknowledges the significance of New York as a primary migration route for Haitians. The protagonist secretly follows her mother through the streets of Manhattan to observe her during the day. She is shocked to see her mother outside of the house in Brooklyn, as though unable to envision her mother as anything other than permanently affixed to the domestic local space, since she “never shops outside of Brooklyn.” For the daughter, Haitian motherhood is bound to the physical space in the home, where one is free to recreate “home” through sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and songs. The story reveals that the narrator’s perception of her mother diverges from the reality of how the older woman spends her days. Seeing her mother outside of the Brooklyn house allows the protagonist to view her in a different captivating light: “I follow my mother mesmerized by the many possibilities of her journey.” The mother becomes like the nation described in the first story, “Children of the Sea,” about whom the protagonist says, “Beloved Haiti there is no place like you I had to leave you before I could understand you.” Likewise, the daughter must leave her mother and the house in order to see her mother leave the house, so as

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to better understand both her and their home. In this way, the mother becomes the motherland that the daughter moves away from and complicates her own understanding of. This positioning of mother as motherland is a far cry from the canonical gendering of the nation as feminine; instead, this figuration complicates the relationship to the nation by revealing its multiple layers of meaning. The process of understanding lakay takes on a different meaning when one leaves. Among the things that the daughter learns about her mother is that she works as a nanny for a white boy whose mother jogs around Central Park. While this position reinscribes the mother into the role expected of an immigrant woman – working as a nanny for an upper-class white woman – it also displays her desire for autonomy and independence. Her secret job reveals the mother’s longing for economic independence, to have something of her own as well as a space of her own. The story troubles the second-generation daughter’s understanding of her mother’s inability to navigate the waters outside of the home and reveals the limits that she imposes on the older generation by forcing her mother to abide by the private public boundaries she perceives for her. The mother in “Caroline’s Wedding” can be read as an extension of the mother in “New York Day Women.” In this story, “the dangerous waters surrounding the island house” surface in the narrator’s discussion of her passport and immigration papers. “Caroline’s Wedding” begins with the narrator-protagonist obtaining US citizenship papers and a passport. “It was like being in a war zone and finally receiving a weapon of my own, like standing in a firing line and finally getting a bulletproof vest.” The deliberate use of war imagery assigns a militaristic undertone to the experience of immigration and underscores the dangers of the United States. She continues by saying that she “felt like an indentured servant who had finally been allowed to join the family.” For Caroline, the official documents help to forge a sense of belonging. They represent her ability to move more freely beyond the borders of her home in the diaspora. “Caroline’s Wedding” is structured as an insular tale. The spaces in the story alternate between the girls’ bedroom and the apartment as a whole. Space matters in articulations of diaspora. Public or private, interior or exterior, real or imagined, how Haitians in diaspora conceive of the spaces they inhabit can register “a space of commonality as well as distance.” The idea of spatial parameters recalls the importance of geographies to theorize diaspora in the Haitian context. Conceptually, geographies mobilize a more precise understanding of diaspora in relation to “the social

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positions that Haitians occupy in place.” Even more, when we remember that Black women’s geographies (their knowledges, negotiations, and experiences) are lived, possible, and imaginable, as Katherine McKittrick instructs, these Haitian women’s experiences of lakay present richly layered iterations of diasporic subject formation. Throughout “Caroline’s Wedding,” the mother often describes her daughters as being too American. The narrator captures the mother’s rebuke: “Whenever we rejected symbols of Haitian culture, Ma used to excuse us with great embarrassment and say ‘You know, they are very American.’” The mother laments that she cannot claim her children in the same way that she did in Haiti: “In Haiti you own your children and they find it natural . . . [here] no one owns anything, and certainly not another person.” Culture resides in the space of games, oral tradition, folklore, and, as we see in Hyppolite’s essay, through the tastes of food. For the mother, having her daughter Caroline leave the house represents the death of her daughter, not only because Caroline is marrying a nonHaitian man of whom her mother does not approve, but also because Caroline moves outside of the house. Leaving the home means moving outside of her mother’s purview and, as her mother understands it, her protection. Caroline is moving out into the “dangerous waters,” where the mother believes that only harm can await her because the farther away she is from her mother, the more vulnerable she is. The story relays the insularity of how the women create a home away from the homeland. Their determination and desire to remain “close to home” varies across generations, demonstrating the difference between the older and younger women. As Nadège T. Clitandre has argued, Danticat articulates a form of diasporic consciousness that “organizes diaspora as a collective and diverse unit and [creates] an archive that can contain both national and diasporic histories.” Clitandre contends that “Danticat’s diaspora . . . is a lived and imagined phenomenon that insists on both cultural and historical preservation and transformation and involves symbolic returns that can engender real returns and fruitful dialogic relations with the homeland.” Clitandre’s argument that Danticat simultaneously calls for the “deconstruction and reconstitution of nation through a diasporic imaginary that informs the way ordinary and everyday people experience displacement” pushes the idea of diaspora as project and process even further. The intergenerational dynamics between mother and daughter as they relate to the private and public spheres operate differently in Marie-Célie Agnant’s novel La dot de Sara, a novel about an older Haitian woman who

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goes to live with her daughter in Montreal. Here, “diasporic writing shows us the processes by which Black people living in the West . . . define their identities [and] are influenced by their relationship to what they call home.” The protagonist Mia’s relationship to her present must be understood in the context of her past, resulting in constant reference to her experiences in Haiti and their relation to her life in Canada. The novel is a prolonged reflection on what it means to be away from Haiti, as Mia goes through the process of recreating her homeland – through stories that she transmits to her granddaughter, relationships she forges with other immigrant women, and the longing for a return that is ultimately realized. The novel also demonstrates just how “writing diaspora . . . is part of the construction of an alternate community, part of the search for viable home and viable selves.” The creation of community in the novel necessitates moving outside of the house (in diaspora): at some level, in order to recreate the idea of home, you have to leave the physical house. In La dot de Sara, Mia creates a viable home and a viable self when she finally decides, at her daughter’s suggestion, to leave the confines of the apartment unit and join a prayer group of older Haitian immigrant women in another unit downstairs. This initial movement to the downstairs apartment is the first of incremental steps Mia takes away from the interior spaces she occupies into the outside world. The prayer group serves as a space where she can have solidarity with and support from other Haitian immigrants attempting to navigate the cold Canadian waters. La Dot de Sara is imbued with a sense of nostalgic longing for home. The preponderance of references to ici versus là-bas serves as a constant gauge for measuring the differences between being in Haiti and the diaspora. Mia’s incessant references to ici and là-bas demonstrate how for her the two are “intertwined imaginary landscapes.” These references focus the reader on the number of different registers through which one can understand “home.” Childrearing, weather, the taste of coffee, marriage arrangement practices, permissive attitudes toward adultery, and treatment of the elderly are but a few described in the book. Mia and her friends are determined to retain the distinctions between the two. As Chimène says, regarding her burial D’ailleurs, je ne veux pas être enterrée dans les cimitières ici. Avec ce froid, cela doit être terrible. Lorsque j’y pense il me semble entendre craquer mes os bien alors que je retourne chez moi. Denise s’entête à dire qu’ici ou là-bas c’est la meme chose. Que lorsque c’est fini, c’est fini. Moi je dis que non! [Besides, I don’t want to be buried in a cemetery here. With this cold, it must be terrible. Come to think of it, I seem to hear my bones cracking as

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I walk home. Denise insists on saying that it is the same here or there. That when it’s over, it’s over. I say no!]

Even for a corpse, the differences between ici and là-bas remain in place. Through references to ici and là-bas, Agnant captures the same duality that Gina Athena Ulysse describes in Why Haiti Needs New Narratives: “I would always be part of two Haitis. There was the one that, due to migration, was being re-created in the diaspora, and the one in the public sphere that continually clashed with the one in my memory. Or perhaps there were three Haitis.” The three Haitis to which Ulysse refers are the actual place, its recreation in diaspora, and its recreation in the imagination. To contrast the guarded insularity that Mia maintains for most of the novel’s plot, the text presents another model of how immigrant women navigate outside waters through the character of Chimène. Chimène, Mia’s long-lost friend from Haiti that she happens upon during a rare outing in Montreal, stands as a glaring counterpoint to Mia’s lack of mobility. She opts for mobility and exploration to survive in Montreal. Like the mother in “New York Day Women,” Chimène exemplifies diaspora as process and project. In fact, as Dawn Fulton puts it, “Chimène intervenes to free [Mia] from her isolation and by the same turn to release Montreal from its static condition.” Chimène leaves her daughter’s house to make her way around Montreal and relies on the kindness of strangers to help her navigate the city. The outside of the house does not appear to her as dangerous waters to be afraid of, but rather an ocean of opportunity awaiting exploration. She is in a process of recovery and discovery that changes the texture of how diaspora translates in her lived experience. In her defiant and unconventional mobility, Chimène disrupts the figure of the older immigrant woman offered by Hyppolite and Danticat. She is the Quebecoise version of a New York Day woman, wandering around the city, accepting rides from strangers, riding the bus, all in defiance of the role her daughter and grandchildren have prescribed to her. While Haitians in diaspora try on the one hand to, as Hyppolite describes in the first part of this essay, recreate their homeland through the use of various objects, ranging from food to perfume, and thus display the “power of nostalgia as symbolic imaginary,” these efforts are mitigated by a reality of what awaits them, should they eventually realize return. Despite these constant imaginings and what seems to be for some characters the impossibility of return, La dot de Sara concludes with Mia having successfully completed her journey home, back to Haiti. Although the

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The Language of Lakay

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novel’s protagonist longing for home is finally satiated by the actual physical return to her native land, what she encounters upon her arrival is a country significantly different from the one that she left behind, largely due to political corruption and the violence of la terreur – the terror of the Duvalier regime. Notwithstanding the political reality, she maintains her desire to retain the constructed location as a place impervious to the reality of traumatic memory. Mia’s return to find a country wracked with violence is especially provocative given her determination to not be moved by the new conventions of life required by the regime. This is expressed in the book’s final scene where she defiantly sits on her front porch, despite her (male) neighbor Mathurin’s ostensible concern for her wellbeing and explanation that people can now be shot down for just sitting on their porches, so it is best not to do so. Mathurin explains, “C’est que ce pays n’est plus le même, je vous le dis. De plus, vous revenez de la-bas . . . c’est encore beaucoup plus dangereux” to which Mia responds “Je vais m’asseoir à ma place, sur ma galerie. Nous ne sommes pas des chiens sans maîtres, non! Ma [place] est ici, sur cette galerie” (“It’s just that my country is not the same anymore, I’m telling you. Besides, when you come back from there . . . it’s even more dangerous,” to which Mia responds “I’ll sit in my place, on my porch. We are not dogs without owners, no! My [place] is here, on this porch”). Thus, her final gesture identifies the idea of place, belonging, and rootedness as a right she has earned. Mia wants to stay in her rightful place on her porch in Anse aux Mombins, in Haiti, despite what the conventions of the regime dictate. The language of lakay evokes a longing for home. “By acknowledging the persistence of the desire for home, perhaps especially among diasporic peoples, we can trace its redefinitions and identify the ways that this persistent desire influences cultural production.” This is how Haitian texts and objects become forthrightly transnational, moving between Haiti and other locations in the diaspora. For Agnant, the realization of the desire is marked with defiance and an understanding of place. The possibility of return, what we can term the project of diaspora, the protagonist’s journey in reverse demonstrates, is indeed possible. For Hyppolite it occurs through the creation of an island house. For Danticat it occurs through the use of folktales, language, and stories. In lieu of conclusion, I end with the song “Fo m Ale” by Emeline Michel in which longing is expressed by her desire for strong coffee and her dislike for the falling snow. The juxtaposition of the cold snow outside her window and the hot coffee inside of her house reminds us that she performs the recreation of homeland. Here the transnational object (in this

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case the coffee) operates as a way to recreate home in the diaspora, thereby unsettling the binary between the two and allowing for Michel to “unite the two terms typically viewed as mutually exclusive.” Michel, who lives in Haiti, Canada, France, and the United States, has been recognized for how her music combines diverse Haitian forms such as rara, troubadour, and konpa. “Beloved by Haitians for combining traditional music with social, political and inspirational themes,” in many ways Emeline’s music provides the soundtrack for Haitian transnational literatures. In her song “Fo m Ale,” Michel prepares for a visit to lakay with eager anticipation. As she describes her preparation for the journey, she punctuates each verse with onomatopoeic repetitions that capture the longing for lakay. Scholarship at the intersection of sound studies and the francophone Caribbean has argued that “greater attention should be paid to the aural elements of Caribbean literary texts,” in particular to the stylistic and thematic use of rhythm. Michel’s repetition of these sounds represents the language of lakay that cannot be expressed through words. In the award-winning documentary The Agronomist (), an ebullient and engaging Jean Dominique pontificates on the oral and aural elements of the Kreyòl language. Describing why Radio Soleil connected so powerfully to the Haitian people due to the use of Kreyòl, Dominique explains that, as a language, Kreyòl is as much about sounds as it is about words. He says “the Kreyòl language is not only in the words, but it is also the eh-eh, ay oui, tchups.” Dominique’s claim about sounds, groans, grunts, tchuups, and other spoken utterances that are not words figure into the creation of music for Haitian diasporic artists and helps us to understand the sounds Michel makes in “Fo m Ale.” Taken together, nonverbal sounds and rhythms combine to manifest the inexpressibility of transnational belonging to and longing for home. In their ephemeral nature these sounds reflect the processual nature of diaspora and present a project of world-making that artists in diaspora reflect. It is through sounds and rhythms that transnational subjects such as Michel defy diasporic categorization by moving between musical styles and traditions and thus underscore their own hybridity and mobility. Sound and nonverbal utterance allow performers to negotiate the processes of becoming and being that Stuart Hall describes in his analysis of diaspora. Or, as Elizabeth McAlister explains it, “the sounds of music, with their capacity to index memories and associations, become sonic points on a cognitive compass that orients diasporic people in time and space.” For Michel the language of lakay is one that she expresses through longing, words, and sounds. The process of return is a back and forth that follows the rhythms of her songs.

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While Wendy Walters argues that “the notion of diaspora can represent a multiple, plurilocal, constructed location of home, thus avoiding ideas of fixity, boundedness and nostalgic exclusivity traditionally implied by the word home,” these Haitian women artists’ configurations of home are deliberately recuperative in a way that deconstructs its exclusivity, or rather reimagines how that exclusivity could function in a less binaristic way. Adding to the complexity of theorizing the Haitian diaspora, it should be noted that, for many Haitians living abroad, the designation “jaspora” or “diaspo” by those living in Haiti is used to level a harsh insult to those living abroad. As Edwidge Danticat explains, “the dyaspora would be classified – justified or not – as arrogant, insensitive, overbearing, and pretentious people who were eager to reap the benefits of good jobs and political positions in times of stability in a country that they fled during difficult times.” Jaspora can be used as an invective to denote the difference, often cast in terms of privilege, between those who leave and those who remain in Haiti. It evinces a gap informed by the politics of belonging and nonbelonging. Earlier scholarship has sought to advance the positive aspects of diasporic identity in the formulation of diaspora, whereas recently scholars of diaspora extend their analyses to accommodate these negatively inflected meanings. Ultimately, home is an unstable referent. In the face of dogged determination to create and recreate home, one wonders if it will ever be possible to completely do away with the notion of homeland in relation to diaspora. If, as Walters argues, “diasporic writers use literature to critique home,” what changes when the home in question is a lakay, and what type of critique comes through the representation of the porousness of the house/home binary? I began this essay with a reflection on the word lakay. In closing I turn to another Kreyòl expression: lakay se lakay, which translates as “there is no place like home.” Indeed, these texts offer an idea of home that is impossible to recreate and relive, though always present as a project to work toward. Diaspora as a process suggests that we continue to make a home out of no home, and as project that we aspire to return to home even as we try to create it elsewhere.

Notes  Regine O. Jackson, “Introduction: Les espaces Haïtiens: Remapping the Geography of the Haitian Diaspora.” In Geographies of the Haitian Diaspora, ed. Regine O. Jackson (New York: Routledge, ), .  Tiffany Ruby Patterson and Robin D. G. Kelley, “Unfinished Migrations: Reflections on the African Diaspora and the Making of the Modern World.” African Studies Review, , no.  (): –.

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 Patterson and Kelley, “Unfinished Migrations,” .  Shana L. Redmond, “Diaspora.” In Keywords for African American Studies, ed. Erica R. Edwards, Roderick A. Ferguson, and Jeffrey O. G. Ogbar (New York: New York University Press, ), .  Joanne Hyppolite, “Dyaspora.” In The Butterfly’s Way: Voices from the Haitian Dyaspora in the United States, ed. Edwidge Danticat (New York: Soho, ), .  The demand for this approach, I suggest, is due to the vicissitudes of diaspora as well as the burgeoning of literature written in Kreyòl.  Ayo Abiétou Coly, “Neither Here Nor There: Calixthe Beyala’s Collapsing Homes.” Research in African Literatures, , no.  (): .  Ibid., .  Carole Boyce Davies, Black Women, Writing and Identity: Migrations of the Subject (New York: Routledge ), .  Jackson, “Introduction,” .  Ibid., .  Wendy W. Walters, “Writing the Diaspora in Black International Literature: ‘With Wider Hope in Some More Benign Fluid . . .’; Diaspora Consciousness and Literary Expression.” In Diaspora Africa: A Reader, ed. Michael A. Gomez (New York: New York University Press, ), .  M. Jacqui Alexander, Pedagogies of Crossing: Meditations on Feminism, Sexual Politics, Memory, and the Sacred (Durham: Duke University Press, ), .  Belinda Edmondson, “Public Spectacles: Caribbean Women and the Politics of Public Performance.” Small Axe,  no.  (): –.  Stuart Hall, “Cultural Identity and Diaspora.” In Theorizing Diaspora: A Reader, ed. Jana Braziel and Anita Mannur (Malden: Blackwell, ), .  Nicole Dennis-Benn, Patsy (New York: Liveright Books, ); Edwidge Danticat, Breath, Eyes, Memory (New York: Soho Press, ); Loida Maritza Pérez, Geographies of Home (New York: Penguin, ). See also Susan Strehle, Transnational Women’s Fiction: Unsettling Home and Homeland (London: Palgrave Macmillan, ).  Walters, “Writing the Diaspora,” .  Ibid., .  Edwidge Danticat, Krik? Krak! (New York: Vintage Books, ), –.  Ibid., .  Ibid., .  Ibid., .  Ibid., –.  Ibid., .  Ibid., .  Nina Glick Schiller, “Foreword: Locality, Globality and the Popularization of a Diasporic Consciousness: Learning from the Haitian Case.” In Geographies of the Haitian Diaspora, ed. Regine O. Jackson (New York: Routledge, ), xxix.  Jackson, “Introduction,” .

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 Katherine McKittrick, Demonic Grounds: Black Women and the Cartographies of Struggle (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, ).  Danticat, Krik? Krak!, .  Ibid., .  Nadège T. Clitandre, Edwidge Danticat: The Haitian Diasporic Imaginary (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, ), xiii.  Ibid., .  Ibid., .  Walters, “Writing the Diaspora,” .  Ibid., .  Clitandre, Edwidge Danticat, .  Marie-Célie Agnant, La dot de Sara (Montréal: Éditions remue-ménage, ), .  Gina Athena Ulysse, Why Haiti Needs New Narratives: A Post-Quake Chronicle (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, ), xviii.  Dawn Fulton, “The Disengaged Immigrant: Mapping the Francophone Caribbean Metropolis.” French Forum, , no. – (): .  Walters, “Writing the Diaspora,” .  Ibid., .  Emeline Michel, “Fo m ale,” track  on Cordes et ame, Production Cheval De Feu, , CD.  Walters, “Writing the Diaspora,” .  Martin Munro, “Reading Rhythm and Listening to Caribbean History in Fiction by Jacques Roumain and Joseph Zobel.” Journal of Modern Literature, , no.  (): .  The Agronomist, dir. Jonathan Demme (ThinkFilms: Los Angeles, ).  Elizabeth McAlister, “Listening for Geographies: Music as Sonic Compass Pointing towards African and Christian Diasporic Horizons in the Caribbean.” In Geographies of the Haitian Diaspora, ed. Regine O. Jackson (New York: Routledge, ), .  Walters, “Writing the Diaspora,”   Edwidge Danticat, introduction to The Butterfly’s Way: Voices from the Haitian Dyaspora in the United States, ed. Edwidge Danticat (New York: Soho, ), xv.  Walters, “Writing the Diaspora,” .  Ibid., .

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The Insufficiency of Paradigms Diaspora in South Asian Literature Sangeeta Ray

If one does a World Cat search on South Asia and diaspora, one is drowned by the number of entries. Awash in diaspora scholarship, one may wonder if other modes are possible given that diaspora has become an encompassing rubric to include postcolonial, global migration, immigration, transnationalism, and refugee studies. Diaspora as a category, specifically for the study of South Asian anglophone literature, could be tied to the advent and consolidation in the s and s of the field of postcolonial literary studies. Many of the founding practitioners of the field, including Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Homi Bhabha, and Sara Suleri Goodyear, themselves scholars who migrated to the west from India and Pakistan, have to a large extent given diaspora a grounding. Thus, dispersal, a key feature of diaspora studies, becomes anchored in the works of scholars who brought an academic field into existence in the United States and United Kingdom based on an analysis of colonial and postcolonial discourse. The early critique of postcolonial reason in terms of the usurpation of the native informant by the metropolitan diasporic was thus not necessarily incorrect. But Spivak herself has warned against the valorization of the native informant in postcolonial studies because it can be easily mobilized for forms of cultural nationalisms that pervade the diaspora. What we are witnessing in South Asia, especially in India, is the rise of a specious religious and ethnic nationalism that seduces the diaspora who, even when they are content in their new homes, cling to the idea of a homeland. If one goes by the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation), South Asia includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka but also Afghanistan and the Maldives, countries with extended histories of migration, with people crossing borders between newly forged nations and journeying outward, to many continents. But home, however remote the concept, is difficult to abandon, and diasporic longing is regularly mobilized when “home” reasserts 

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The Insufficiency of Paradigms

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itself in discourses of authenticity. Thus, the constant refrains and demands: India is a Hindu land; Hindus were forced to leave Bangladesh after independence and are in exile; Kashmir belongs to India; Kashmir belongs to Pakistan; Sri Lankan Tamils and Indian Tamils (categories that themselves raise the long history of Tamil migration to the northern and eastern provinces of British Ceylon), yearn to return to a place ravaged by a prolonged civil war and the continuing erasure of minority rights. My examples here are from the twentieth century, a time that saw the partition of the subcontinent into India and East and West Pakistan in  and then the creation of a new nation, Bangladesh, in , and of course the right to citizenship, to the desire to forge an independent Tamil state in Sri Lanka. These are twentieth-century nations born out of the end of the British empire, viscerally experienced by populations violently and abruptly rendered out of place. As Rani Neutill and Jigna Desai note, in many cases, contemporary dispersed communities see themselves as having been forced into exile; and, therefore, scholars working in the field of both postcolonial and diaspora studies see new diasporas as not simply “mobile, migrant and global . . . but as congruent with the postcolonial critique of the nation.” Thus, diasporas “function as reterritorialized nations that deploy notions of nationalism in a different light.” Such an envisioning of diaspora is evident in much South Asian literature, primarily fiction, and resonates with what Homi Bhabha has termed the “third space,” a space marked by migration, hybridity, and a performative excess that simultaneously marches to the pedagogical imperatives of a nation even as it undoes it. While Bhabha is describing the migrant’s relationship to the new nation, South Asian fiction’s depiction of the lost nation eerily echoes what Bhabha articulates in the essay: “What I am attempting to formulate . . . are the complex strategies of cultural identification and discursive address that function in the name of ‘the people’ or ‘the nation’ and make them the immanent subjects of a range of social and literary narratives.” From Bharati Mukherjee’s Jasmine to Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland; from M. G. Vassanji’s The Gunny Sack to Jameela Siddiqi’s The Feast of the Nine Virgins; from Nadeem Aslam’s Maps for Lost Lovers to Tanwi Nandini Islam’s Bright Lines; from Lakshmi Persaud’s Butterfly in the Wind to Ramabai Espinet’s The Swinging Bridge; from Bapsi Sidhwa’s Ice-Candy-Man (in the United States this was published as Cracking India) to Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire; from Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children to H. M. Naqvi’s Home Boy; from Shyam Selvadurai’s Funny Boy to Romesh Gunesekera’s Suncatcher; from Yasmine Gooneratne’s

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 

A Change of Skies to Chandani Lokugé’s Turtle Nest, Bhabha’s sentence could function as an epigraph. This list is of course incomplete but it is an attempt to represent the range of writers from diverse regions, writers who live elsewhere and write about the places they left, the places they live, the places they desire, the places they refuse to acknowledge, the places they satirize, the places they parody, the places that destroy them, the places they cannot wait to leave and yet the places that haunt them literally and metaphorically. Here diaspora captures migration (often multiple), voluntary and involuntary exile. But some of the writers live in two places at once, content to move back and forth. Others may write about a place even though they were born elsewhere, even though they may be third generation British, for example. Many of the writers mentioned here come from privilege despite having to abruptly tear themselves away from their place of birth, be it Colombo, Sri Lanka; San Fernando, Trinidad; Gurunjwala, Pakistan; or Nairobi, Kenya. But there are other movements and migrations. Writing just about the Indian diaspora, Vijay Mishra makes an accurate distinction between old and new diasporas. While we may think the Indian diaspora,  million strong, as a comparatively recent phenomenon, it could be argued that “the modern Indian diaspora has a longer history which is in fact contiguous with an older wanderlust, the ghummakkar tradition that took . . . the gypsies [sic] to the Middle East and to Europe, fellow Indians to Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka as missionaries and conquerors and traders to the littoral trading community around the Arabian Sea.” It is not the purview of this chapter to take on the vastness of that earlier diaspora, but suffice it to say that the differences remarked upon by Mishra between old and new Indian diasporas should remind us about old and new South Asian diasporas in general. Disputing what is often assumed to be a uniform trajectory marked by movement and migration, Mishra critically sums up a key difference: “the old (that is early modern, classic capitalist, or more specifically late nineteenth-century indenture) and the new (that is late modern or late capitalist) traverse two quite different topographies.” Thus, Indians who immigrated between the s and the s to the Caribbean region, East and South Africa, or the islands of Mauritius and Fiji do not have much in common with Indians and other South Asians who have entered imperial metropolitan centers or migrated for various reasons to white settler colonies like Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States, post-. Using diaspora as a category reduces the complexities that reside in the forms, theme, and languages that shape literature that arise out of different experiences of migration. To give one

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example of this difference, Indo-Caribbean literature in its early days often represented the journey across the Kala Pani (dark waters) of Indians as indentured laborers, a subject taken up in interesting ways in Amitav Ghosh’s Ibis trilogy. While V. S. Naipaul is often the first writer that comes to mind when thinking about Indo-Caribbean writers, there also is Vic Reid, and to a greater extent, Samuel Selvon, most famous for his novels The Lonely Londoners () and Moses Ascending (), which deal with West Indian black Caribbean migration to London following the British Nationality Act of . Selvon, moreover, wrote two novels about the growing pains of an East Indian protagonist, Tiger, in A Brighter Sun (), set in s Trinidad and Tobago, and again in Turn Again Tiger (), which capture, through the life of the main protagonist, the conditions of indentureship, farming, the use of labor by the Americans to construct the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway and the railways during World War II, the racism of white overseers, internalized racism, and the careful representation by Selvon of a creolized identity and language. It would be interesting to juxtapose A Brighter Sun with Naipaul’s canonical A House for Mr. Biswas since the main protagonist in both novels is obsessed with building a house of his own. But that is the only aspect which connects the two novels since, while Naipaul was busy turning himself into the quintessential eponymous mimic man, Selvon depicts in his novels a people and a landscape, poignantly captured by critic Kenneth Ramchand: It was In a Brighter Sun, that the West Indian peasant was first recognized and represented as the central character or hero of a novel . . . Selvon took up the tempered languages of the dark ones, the sunken in the land, hammered it into an instrument to express the soul of the people who had come out of the plains of enslavement and indentureship, where cane is bitter . . . he pushed his linguistic experiments beyond the boundary set by colonial education. It was the sensational impact of his work that opened up the way for succeeding generations to write and speak in the language of the islands.

I bring up this early migration to remind readers, as Mariam Pirbhai does, that [the] use and abuse of indentured laborers grew out of the legacy of slavery and, at least in its earliest stages, bore an unsettling resemblance to its historical precursor . . . In fact, the first group of indentured labourers to arrive in Mauritius ended up joining an older community of South Asian slaves who had served the French plantocracy as early as the s.

While Pirbhai’s book takes up a wide range of writers from Mauritius to Malaysia, from Guyana to Fiji, and from Trinidad to Uganda, it uses a

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historically situated diaspora grounded mainly in indentureship to make visible writers and novels largely absent in discussions of South Asian literature, such as Deepchand Beeharry’s That Others Might Live (), K. S. Maniam’s The Return (), and Narmala Shewcharan’s Tomorrow Is Another Day (). Indian Ocean Studies, under which I would categorize the better part of Pirbhai’s book, allows for a simultaneously diasporic and delimited field that could and has fostered comparative projects that link the commerce, history, and literature of and by people of South Asia with those of Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. One example of a complex extension of Indian Ocean Studies is Gaurav Desai’s substantial book Commerce with the Universe: Africa, India and the Afrasian Imagination, which “[u]rged by the compelling work of scholars who have increasingly focused on Indian Ocean histories and Africa’s connections with them . . . is invested in an expansive understanding of African territories and identities.” One of Desai’s main purposes in the book is to answer the question, “What happens to our understanding of Africa – its history, its sense of identity, its engagement with modernity, and the possibilities of its future – if we read its long history as an encounter not only with the West, but also with the East?” Diaspora is thus not inherently an insufficient category for the study of South Asian literature. However, a book titled Imagining Muslims in South Asia and the Diaspora () could present – contra to the nuanced studies by Mishra and Desai – an arbitrary collection of writers and novels that include Shashi Deshpande and Agha Shahid Ali alongside Salman Rushdie, Mirza Waheed, and Ed Husain. In such an edited collection one is left wondering what South Asia and diaspora connote – an imaginative geography, the location of a writer, a religious identity, experiences of discrimination, war and terror? South Asia as a specific geographical territory is placed alongside the diaspora via religion. Is this sufficient? Can such an anthology produce a cogent and coherent comparative representational analysis? Diaspora, in such cases, loses any acuity as an analytical concept precisely because of its ubiquity. Furthermore, diaspora, as paradigm or as descriptive and explanatory category, often risks antihistorical or dehistoricized readings of literary texts and their deep engagements with history. We may equally risk attention to form if diaspora becomes the analytic rubric for the study of the vast body of anglophone South Asian literature. If one must use the term, it should, at the least, clearly and critically delineate the boundaries of exploration. This essay restricts itself to novels that circulate among scholars and readers in the United States, United Kingdom, and to some extent Canada, and

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concludes by gesturing to what gets left out when diaspora becomes the reigning paradigm for understanding the long and deep history of South Asian literature in English. It is a truth easily established that writers from India dominate the scene of south Asian Anglophone writing. One could start in the early twentieth century with Mulk Raj Anand, R. K. Narayan, and Raja Rao, the last easily cast as an early diasporic writer (he lived the better part of his life outside India, in France, and then in the United States where he taught philosophy at The University of Texas at Austin), a fact often overlooked because of his stature as an early Indian writer who idealized a Gandhian nationalism in his canonical novel, Kanthapura in . The novel narrates the story of Gandhi and India’s struggle for independence as an oral tale recounted by an elderly village woman Achakka, in Kannada, but “translated” into what in his foreword Rao describes as an English “dialect which will someday prove to be as distinctive and colorful as the Irish or the American. Time alone will justify it.” However, by the time we get to Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, the oral narration has shifted to a disillusioned narrator, Saleem, who is convinced that he literally embodies the divisive fracturing of the post colony. Taking Rao’s edict to create a language distinct to the subcontinent to its extreme, Rushdie, among other things, depicts a tumultuous India teeming with multitudes in an engaging stereotypical parody of Indian English. Midnight’s Children is the paradigmatic postcolonial postmodern novel, and it is also a novel by a diasporic writer and should be included in any account that seeks to apprehend the category of South Asian diaspora fiction. But what do Rao’s and Rushdie’s novels have in common beyond their apparent concern with language and nation? The forms of the two novels could not be more different, and using diaspora as a rubric does damage to both. One way out of the quagmire may be to consider how diasporic projects affect novel forms and literary creation. This would allow us to move from the adaptation of the folk form in Kanthapura to Kamala Markandaya’s social realist novel, Nectar in a Sieve (), a first-person retrospective narrative told by Rukmani, a widow of a poor tenant farmer, in an unnamed village in South India, with its searing representation of hunger and poverty exacerbated in the face of industrialization captured in the tannery factory that ends up killing one of Rukmani’s sons. The novel is relentless in its depiction of suffering and injustice, much like our next example, Indo-Canadian writer Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance (), a novel that has become central to the scholarship on realism and peripheral realism. We could conclude by turning to either Neel Mukherjee, an Indian writer who went to England as a Rhodes scholar

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and who now teaches at Princeton, for his novel The Lives of Others () or Sunjeev Sahota, a third-generation South Asian British writer, for his novel The Year of the Runaways (). Sahota’s novel plots the journey of four characters trying to escape lives diminished by various circumstances in the year . In its harrowing description of lives in India and in England besieged by caste, corruption, religion, violence, fear, and hatred, The Year of the Runaways partakes in the legacy of Indian writing sketched in this chapter thus far. The novel refuses the successful immigrant narrative arc, and in the story of the female British Sikh protagonist, Narinder Kaur, a devout Sikh woman raised in East Croydon, England, whose journeys are absolutely circumscribed, from home to the gurdwara every day and from Croydon to the Anandpur Temple complex in Punjab every summer, we see how “home” continues to proscribe women’s lives in new worlds. To call this a diasporic novel would undermine the thematic and formal integrity of The Year of the Runaways. The Lives of Others, equally disturbing, introduces us to a different milieu in a form that, as Ankhi Mukherjee notes, has a “true hybrid genealogy.” It bears within it traces of Bengali fiction in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries alongside “the serialized, multiplot roman familial penned by George Eliot, Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Anthony Trollope, or the disintegrating families made rich and strange in Henry James’s fiction.” Alternating between third-person and first-person narration in the form of letters penned by Supratik, a flawed character like almost every other in this capacious novel, the novel takes us from pre-independence Calcutta, the Bengal famine, and the aftermath of World War II to s Calcutta, where drug addiction exists alongside the violent insurgent Naxalite movement. The novel often seems to be bursting at the seams with its many characters, sub plots, and twists and turns: it might indeed be suggesting that “failed totality is the new totality of twenty-first-century realism.” However, Mukherjee’s novel is unlike the anglophone contemporary middlebrow novels penned by writers who “return” to India, those that Ulka Anjaria accurately describes as fiction that merely reflect “a realist impulse,” while eschewing a Lukasçian bourgeois realism. Even this short list of five novels illuminates how attention to a mode of representation, realism, can prove to be more illuminating than their status as novels from the diaspora. If caste and poverty, the nation and its failures, continue to occupy writers from the South Asian diaspora, it does not do so at the expense of the Partition and its brutal legacy of communal and internecine violence. Studies of the partition of the sub-continent is a field of its own and

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novelists, including of course Rushdie, have engaged with the subject from colonial, national, postcolonial, immigrant, and transnational perspectives. Gender plays a key role in such imaginative renditions from Attia Hosain’s open-ended, evocative Sunlight on a Broken Column () to Bapsi Sidhwa’s Ice-Candy-Man (); from Amitav Ghosh’s The Shadow Lines () to Shauna Singh Baldwin’s What the Body Remembers () and the more recently published The Parted Earth by Anjali Enjeti (). Of these novels, Hosain’s, as Antoinette Burton writes, offers an “an alternative archive of partition, reshaping the landscape of the historical imagination [and] offering a modest corrective to local and in turn national history.” As Jill Didur has shown in her book, Unsettling Partition: Literature, Gender, Memory, Hosain unnarrates the nation by focusing on the “protagonist Laila’s personal story of development, love and marriage in an elite Muslim family. When she finally leaves her home, she not only leaves behind the idealism and modern binaries of her earlier romantic relationship, but also the concept of the nation.” In her deeply personal essay Deep Roots, Hosain writes about how she could neither “accept the division of India,” nor believe “in the logistics and legalities which subsumed the ideals of freedom and Independence.” More significantly, she indicates that it was her move to Britain which allowed her to “meet those from whom we were now divided by borders of nationality and an artificially nurtured hostility.” I wanted to hone in on this novel because, unlike the critical attention given to Sidhwa’s Ice-Candy-Man, it has had less exposure as a novel about Partition by a diasporic writer because the novel does not engage with the representational logic of woman as nation. And also, if it is not apparent yet, this essay takes as one of its tasks a situating of the novels discussed in a literary genealogy, as mapped through shared historical events and a repertoire of literary forms that cannot be contained by diaspora. The years  and  are watershed years for the subcontinent and they have led to a suffocating discourse of religious nationalism setting Hindus against Muslims, Muslims against Hindus, Hindus against Sikhs – the latter especially crystallized in the desire for Khalistan, an independent Sikh nation, a spectral presence in India and in the diaspora, especially after Operation Blue Star in  against leaders in the Sikh movement for Khalistan. Authorized by then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Operation Blue Star subsequently led to her assassination at the hands of her own Sikh guards. Partition, of course, has left Kashmir, the subject of much recent fiction, forever suspended in a state of perpetual conflict. In this essay I have restricted myself to fiction and that, too, to novels. But to

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capture what Kashmir has meant and means to generations of Indians, Pakistanis, and aspirant Kashmiris, I use the poet Agha Shahid Ali’s words from “Postcard from Kashmir,” : Kashmir shrinks into my mailbox, my home a neat four by six inches. I always loved neatness. Now I hold the half-inch Himalayas in my hand.

A more poignant desire for one’s land by a writer is difficult to find in these opening lines of the poem in the collection, The Half-Inch Himalayas. But the Kashmir that the late Agha Shahid Ali wanted to return to is unrecognizable in British Kashmiri writer Mirza Waheed’s The Collaborator. The novel uses an unnamed protagonist to describe the necropolitical landscape of a village rendered asunder by a merciless Indian army. Set in the early s, in the forgotten last village before the “Line of Control” which divides the former state of Kashmir between India and Pakistan, the novel’s unnamed nineteen-year-old protagonist, the only boy left in his village, is hired by the brutal Indian captain to collect the ID cards from the corpses of alleged militants. As Kamila Shamsie writes in her review of the novel, “[o]ne of the most remarkable features of this novel is how much of it is concentrated around a single person, in isolation. It is only in his memories that the narrator has friends and a close-knit family he can rely on . . . when we encounter him in the present, his closest intimacies seem to be with the corpses in the field. Karan Mahajan’s The Association of Small Bombs, on the other hand, brings the violence to Delhi in his depictions of the small bombs set off by itinerant Kashmiri bombers in a striking realist take, where the bomb itself becomes the protagonist of the novel. The book can be read as belonging to the genre of the post / novel even though the event itself appears late in the plot and only in the imagination of one of the “small” bombers who tries to envision what Mohamed Atta may have felt as he crashed his plane into the Twin Towers. The novel is thus unlike the solipsistic soliloquy of Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, now a canonical American / novel, characterized by critics as a “revision of the West’s vision of itself.” One of the best novels, not quite yet taken up by academics, is Bangladeshi-born British writer Zia Haider Rahman’s In the Light of What We Know. The novel is set mostly during the war in Afghanistan and the financial crisis of –. Moving from Kabul to London, New York to Islamabad, Dhaka, Oxford, and Princeton, NJ, the novel partakes of the genre of an adventure story, a spy novel, a novel about

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ideas, mathematics, and so much more. It is also a book about friendship and betrayal and calling it a great American novel as some reviews do seems not just misplaced but reveals the lures and traps of genre that US reviewers succumb to as well as their failure to comprehend a particular novel’s unusual style and scope. The Partition of India, Kashmir, and / are not the only subjects around terror and violence that one encounters in diaspora fiction. The  Bangladesh War of Independence has recently become the subject of novels written in English, including Tahmima Anam’s A Golden Age () and, most recently, Nadeem Zaman’s In the Time of the Others (). Civil war and violence, terrorism and ethnic conflict, reconciliation and peace have been the subject of a body of anglophone Sri Lankan writing by authors from the diaspora. A. Sivanandan, the founding editor of Race and Class who moved from Sri Lanka to Britain, went on to publish a three generational historical saga, When Memory Dies (). The novel spans nearly a century, from colonization to the beginning of ethnic violence in the s. The three sections of the novel focus on the protagonists, Sahadevan, Rajan, and Vijay, and the novel shifts between a first-person narrator, ostensibly Rajan, to an omniscient third-person narrator. Rajan could easily be the author’s alter ego, a Third World intellectual with a profound sense of responsibility to represent the various strata and ethnicities of the country he has left behind. As Stuart Hall has noted, “Practices of representation always indicate the positions from which we speak and write – the positions of enunciation.” Much has been written about Shyam Selvadurai’s debut novel Funny Boy, a queer coming of age novel that ends with the young protagonist’s departure from Colombo to Toronto. Gayatri Gopinath includes a reading of the novel alongside Indo-Caribbean Canadian writer Shani Mootoo’s equally if not even more canonical novel Cereus Blooms at Night as examples of queer South Asian diasporic literature, which, while eschewing “claims to immutable origins and unsullied pasts on which dominant articulations of both the nation and diaspora depend,” must also counter the “specter of home – as household, community, and nation” that continues to haunt them. As Gopinath writes: “[Q]ueer diasporic literature instead engages in a radical reworking of multiple home spaces. The queer diasporic body is the medium through which home is remapped and its various narratives are displaced, uprooted, and infused with alternative forms of desire.” Gopinath’s wide-ranging examination of the novel focuses less on the ethnic violence between the Sinhalese and Tamils – which expels the protagonist Arjie and his family, who seek safety as

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refugees in Canada – and more on the ways in which home is itself rendered unhomely as a result of heteronormative sexual, gendered, and ethnic policing. The novel lends itself to such a reading given its texture of a narrative remembered, episodic and fragmented, one which resists the teleological trajectory of novels that depict diasporic movement as the path to a better future. The novel ends at the moment of departure and we have to wait for Selvadurai’s far less successful, sprawling, melodramatic  novel The Hungry Ghosts, with its unlikeable and petulant protagonist Shivan, to experience the plight of South Asians in Toronto, the racism and the space of Toronto’s s gay bars where Shivan suffers from the worst kind of oriental stereotypes about emasculated brown men. A Little Dust on the Eyes () by Minoli Salgado, a Sri Lankan writer who grew up in Kuala Lumpur and now lives and teaches in the United Kingdom, explores not just the prolonged civil war and the plight of the tortured women survivors but also the tragedy of the  tsunami. The novel is set in a multiethnic small coastal community and is a complex, layered networking of interconnected temporalities: geological time, the time of monarchs, the time of the Buddhists, colonial time, generational time, the time of migration, the time of trying to complete a dissertation, the time of trying to record the oral stories of the displaced and survivors of rape, titled “A Postscript to the Years of Terror,” and the time of wreckage that the tsunami leaves in its wake. The novel plays with form and shifts between stream of consciousness, free indirect discourse, third-person limited narrator, focalization, third-person omniscient narrator, and a not-always-seamless integration of modernist and realist elements. Despite the attention to landscape and environmental disaster, the novel’s choice to begin with the “Postscript” alerts the reader to the impossible yet necessary task of telling the stories of women rendered invisible as victims of a brutal civil war even after an environmental disaster. A number of the novels discussed, from Markandaya to Salgado, suggest how writers looking back at the home they have left or been forced to leave behind end up describing the post colony as a deathscape. While such depictions are not limited to writers from the diaspora it remains quite prominent in novels that circulate in the west. Michael Ondaatje’s Anil’s Ghost acutely captures just such a landscape and, as Mrinalini Chakravorty eloquently notes, allows the critic “to probe paradoxes that arise in postcolonial fictions that deal with specters of death moored to a particular place and real events.” The novel follows a forensic expert, Anil Tissera, who returns to Sri Lanka in the early s after a gap of

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fifteen years as an advocate for a human rights center in Geneva. In Sri Lanka she meets the archeologist Sarath assigned to her by the government and unearths the skeleton of a body they name “Sailor” in a governmentprotected burial site. While Anil is convinced that justice could be delivered if they discovered the true identity of “Sailor,” the novel, as Chakravorty astutely observes, reveals how the individuation of death remains indeterminate . . . such that neither the affixing of an identity nor its metonymic referentiality attest to the atrocities of violence . . . Confronting Sailor, Anil’s Ghost suggests, is a confrontation with death writ large – as a proximate and shared condition that works through the illogic of substitution . . . Reading [the novel] is, hence like entering an open crypt where the book itself serves as a repository for death’s relational and recursive forms.

While Chakravorty’s interpretation of fiction serving as a storehouse for representations of death worlds helps describe novels written by writers mostly from the post-s South Asian diaspora, there are other lists to be made, other ways to configure literature that could complicate the erasures of class, caste, race, gender, and sexuality that often occur in an incessant focus on and facile use of diaspora. We could, for example, produce a literary map of South Asian British fiction which could include V. S. Naipaul’s The Mimic Men (), Kamala Markandaya’s The Nowhere Man (), Ravinder Randhawa’s A Wicked Old Woman (), Hanif Kureishi’s The Buddha of Suburbia () and Black Album (), Meera Syal’s Anita and Me () and Life Isn’t all Ha Ha Hee Hee (), Kamila Shamsie’s Salt and Saffron (), Monica Ali’s Brick Lane (), Nadeem Aslam’s Maps for Lost Lovers (), Gautam Malkani’s Londonstani (), Nikita Lalwani’s Gifted (), Sathnam Sanghera’s Marriage Material (), and Sairish Hussain’s The Family Tree (). Would not these novels be better served if grouped under South Asian British immigrant literature, thereby enabling both an expansion of and a critique of British literature at large? In the United States, the demand made by academics to incorporate South Asian American writing into Asian American studies can be traced back to Sucheta Mazumdar’s  essay, where she argues for the need to define a new paradigm which contextualizes the history of Asian Americans within the twentieth-century global history of imperialism, colonialism, and capitalism. Such a model has definitely been taken up in Asian American studies; but, more significantly, it perhaps helps redress the discomfort some South Asian academics may feel in the house of Asian American studies. The inclusion of immigrant and diasporic literature by South Asians as Asian

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American literature provides an opportunity here to chart a trajectory beginning with Bharati Mukherjee’s Jasmine which, for all its problems and naïve celebration of the United States as the land of opportunity and freedom, offers us an intriguing rewriting of a typical immigrant narrative as an American frontier novel, where an undocumented immigrant refugee, a widow escaping terrorism, can be transformed to become the partner of an academic in Berkeley. Such a route leads us to Bapsi Sidhwa’s An American Brat () and Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake (), Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss (), and Akhil Sharma’s Family Life (). In looking for thematic similarities, one could pair Lahiri’s The Lowland () with Jasmine for an interesting analysis. While the female protagonist in The Lowland is not an undocumented immigrant, she is a victim of the Naxalite uprising, marries and comes to the Midwest and then leaves her daughter to invent herself anew in California. We could conclude with either Bangladeshi American Tanwi Nandini Islam’s Bright Lines, which moves between Brooklyn and Bangladesh even as it lovingly describes the growing awareness by Ella, the young female protagonist, of her own sexual identity and desire for her friend Charu; or with Ranbir Singh Sidhu’s Deep Singh Blue, also about one year in the life of a young protagonist, but one that depicts an earlier moment of Sikh migration to California and a family that is very unlike the bourgeois immigrant ones portrayed by Lahiri in The Lowland. While using diaspora to bring together a range of South Asian novels has helped articulate some of the key principles of Avtar Brah’s notion of “diaspora space,” which “includes the entanglement of genealogies of dispersion with those of ‘staying put’,” it cannot acknowledge the long history of anglophone writing and writing in translation. Diaspora cannot accommodate writers firmly rooted in their place of birth like Shashi Deshpande and Nayantara Sahgal writing brilliant fiction the s and s. In fact much fiction published by Indian writers during the Emergency cannot be incorporated under diaspora. The essay has left out so much, even in trying to capture the work of writers who technically may be part of the diaspora, for example, Anita Desai’s oeuvre. What about the range of Amitav Ghosh’s novels – A Circle of Reason, The Shadow Lines, The Glass Palace, the Ibis trilogy, Hungry Tide, and his latest Gun Island? We could read the second and third of Ghosh’s novels listed here as novels of Partition, war, and displacement; we could read the first and the Ibis trilogy as novels about the diaspora; we could read Hungry Tide and Gun Island as novels about the environment and the refugee condition. But examining them as part of South Asian diaspora writing would be limiting and would prevent a critical engagement with the generic and

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linguistic moves made by a writer over the span of a still productive literary career. Diaspora also fails to acknowledge a local reading audience in the rush to accommodate the marketable apolitical category of the global anglophone. Where would we place novels in translation from Ismat Chughtai, Qurratulain Hyder, Premchand, Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, and Vivek Shanbhag? How about writers from the conflict-ridden North East region of India? What about anglophone writers such as Upamanyu Chatterjee, Arundhati Roy, Anuradha Roy, and most recently Madhuri Vijay, and novels like Anuk Arudpragasam’s The Story of a Brief Marriage or Mohammed Hanif’s A Case of Exploding Mangoes? While the term postcolonial seems to have fallen out of fashion, it still remains the apt term to use to accommodate the diversity of South Asian anglophone writing. The nation is never absent even if, as Ulka Anjaria notes, contemporary writers pursue depictions of daily life in a neoliberal, consumeroriented shining India. As we in the United States allow ourselves to emerge from a disastrous  and permit ourselves to imagine a life beyond the pandemic, we are reminded every day about places where lives continue to be spent in cramped places indoors. As COVID vaccine cards become as ubiquitous as passports, facilitating travel between nations patrolling their borders to keep the terror of contagion at bay, let us not forget that in Modi’s Hindutva India one cannot quite tabulate the rate at which people are dying. What will fiction in general look like after COVID, “after” denoting not beyond but living with the mutating virus for years, and what will it specifically imply for South Asian anglophone writing? It is hard to tell since many of the themes and topics discussed in this essay will not magically disappear. Perhaps we will be witness to new genres and modes that adapt to a changed social and political landscape in the various post colonies that constitute South Asia. And perhaps we will need better terms to comprehend what comes next.

Notes  In this essay I will be discussing novels by diaspora writers from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.  Rani Neutill and Jigna Desai, “Diaspora.” In The Encyclopedia of Postcolonial Studies, vol. , ed. Henry Schwarz and Sangeeta Ray (Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, ), .  Homi K. Bhabha, The Location of Culture (London: Routledge, ), .  See Rosemary Marangoly George, The Politics of Home: Postcolonial Relocations and Twentieth Century Fiction (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, )

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                     

  for a nuanced exploration of diaspora and postcolonial narratives of belonging, exile, and immigration. Vijay Mishra, The Literature of the Indian Diaspora: Theorizing the Diasporic Imaginary (London: Routledge, ), . Ibid., –. Kala Pani (Dark Waters) gestures to the taboo of the seas, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the proscription of crossing of the waters in many Indian religions. I provide dates of publications of the many novels I list in the body of the text to capture both a time period but also to sketch a literary genealogy of South Asian anglophone fiction. Samuel Selvon, A Brighter Sun (London: Allan Wingate, ); Samuel Selvon, Turn Again Tiger (London: MacGibbon & Kee, ). Kenneth Ramchand, “Celebrating Sam Selvon.” Journal of Modern Literature, , no.  (): . Mariam Pirbhai, Mythologies of Migration, Vocabularies of Indenture: The Novels of the South Asian Diaspora in Africa, the Caribbean and Asia-Pacific (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, ), . Gaurav Desai, Commerce with the Universe: Africa, India and the Afra Asian Imagination (New York: Columbia University Press, ), –, Kindle. Claire Chambers and Caroline Herbert (eds.), Imagining Muslims in South Asia and the Diaspora: Secularism, Religion, Representation (London: Routledge, ). The essay uses South Asian writing in English and anglophone South Asian writing interchangeably. Raja Rao, Kanthapura (London: George Allen & Unwin, ). The novel was written in France and published in London. Raja Rao, foreword to Kanthapura (Oxford: Oxford University Press, ), vii. Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children (London: Jonathan Cape, ). Kamala Markandaya, Nectar in a Sieve (New York: G. B. Putnam’s Sons, ). Rohinton Mistry, A Fine Balance (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Ltd., ). Neel Mukherjee, The Lives of Others (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, ). Sunjeev Sahota, The Year of the Runaways (London: Picador, ). See Sangeeta Ray, “Sikh Transit Gloria Mundi.,” Los Angeles Review of Books, November , , available at: https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/sikh-tran sit-gloria-mundi/ (last accessed August , ). Ankhi Mukherjee, “The Great Bengali Novel in English.” Contemporary Literature, , no.  (): . Ibid., . Attia Hosain, Sunlight on a Broken Column (New Delhi: Penguin Books India, ). Antoinette Burton, Dwelling in the Archive: Women Writing House, Home and History in Late Colonial India. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, ), .

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 Jill Didur, Unsettling Partition: Literature, Gender, Memory (Toronto: Toronto University Press, ), .  Attia Hosain, “Deep Roots.” In Voices of the Crossing: The Impact of Britain on Writers from Asia, the Caribbean and Africa, ed. Ferdinand Dennis and Naseem Khan (London: Serpent’s Tail, ), –.  See Didur, Unsettling Partition. See also Sangeeta Ray, Engendering India: Woman and Nation in Colonial and Postcolonial Narratives (Durham: Duke University Press, ) and Kavita Daiya, Violent Belongings: Partition, Gender, and National Culture in Postcolonial India (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, ).  One of the few novels that takes up the subject from a diasporic perspective is Anita Rau Badami, Can You Hear the Nightbird Call (Delhi: Penguin Books, ).  Agha Shahid Ali, The Half-Inch Himalayas: Miniature Edition (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, ), loc.  of , Kindle.  Mirza Waheed, The Collaborator (London: Viking, ).  Kamila Shamsie, “The Collaborator by Mirza Waheed – review.” The Guardian, March , , available at: www.theguardian.com/books// mar//collaborator-mirza-waheed-review (last accessed February , ).  Karan Mahajan, The Association of Small Bombs (New York: Penguin, ). See also Sangeeta Ray, “Bombs and Bomb Makers: Realism, The Association of Small Bombs, and the Post / Novel.” Studies in the Novel, , no.  (): –.  Margaret Scanlan, “Migrating from Terror: The Postcolonial Novel after September .” Journal of Postcolonial Writing, , no. – (): .  Zia Haider Rahman, In the Light of What We Know (New York: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, ).  See Mir Arif, “English Fiction from Bangladesh: A Vibrant Prospect” for an account of new anglophone Bangladeshi writing and the political emphasis on language that prevented an earlier interest in writing in English. Mir Arif, “English Fiction from Bangladesh: A Vibrant Prospect.” DhakaTribune, April , , available at: www.dhakatribune.com/magazine/arts-letters// //english-fiction-from-bangladesh-a-vibrant-prospect (last accessed July , ).  A. Sivanandan, When Memory Dies (London: Arcadia Books, ).  Stuart Hall, “Cultural Identity and Diaspora.” In Identity, Community, Culture, Difference, ed. Jonathan Rutherford (London: Lawrence & Wishart, ), .  Shyam Selvadurai, Funny Boy (Toronto: McClelland & Stuart, ).  Gayatri Gopinath, Impossible Desires: Queer Diasporas and South Asian Public Cultures (Durham: Duke University Press, ), .  Shyam Selvadurai, The Hungry Ghosts (London: Telegram Books, ).  Michael Ondaatje, Anil’s Ghost (Toronto: McClelland & Stuart, ).  Mrinalini Chakravorty, In Stereotype: South Asia in the Global Imaginary (New York: Columbia University Press, ), .

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 Ibid., .  Sucheta Mazumdar, “Asian American Studies and Asian Studies: Rethinking Roots.” In Asian Americans: Comparative and Global Perspectives, ed. Shirley Hune, Kim Hyung-chan, Stephen S. Fugita, and Amy Ling (Pullman: Washington State University Press, ), –.  Bharati Mukherjee, Jasmine (New York: Grove Press, ).  Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland (New York: Knopf, ).  Tanwi Nandini Islam, Bright Lines (New York: Penguin Random House, ).  Ranbir Singh Sidhu, Deep Singh Blue (Los Angeles: The Unnamed Press, ).  Avtar Brah, Cartographies of Diaspora: Contesting Identities (London: Routledge, ), .  See Nasia Anam, “Introduction: Forms of the Global Anglophone” for a critique of the term global anglophone in Post, February , , available at: https://post.org///introduction-forms-of-the-global-anglophone/ (last accessed February , ); Yogita Goyal, “Postcolonial, Still,” Post, February  , available at: https://post.org///postcolonial-still/ (last accessed February , ); and Ragini Srinivasan, “Introduction: South Asia from Postcolonial to World Anglophone.” Interventions, , no.  (): –.  See Ulka Anjaria, Reading India Now: Contemporary Formations in Literature and Popular Culture (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, ).

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Lynchpins of Sovereignty Forced Removal and the Deportspora Imaginary Mary Pat Brady

Forced removal exposes an intimate relationship with a self cultivated into being through  years of crisis, loss, extraction, and exploitation. Forced removal forces a reckoning with this intimacy by revealing that the self-same subject relies on deportation for the conditions of its possibility; deportation constitutes the very grounds of sovereignty, legitimizes the logic of property, and names the conditions necessary for the protective veneer of citizenship. Put differently, forced removal chains together a citizen’s right to remain and a sovereign’s right to deport. Perhaps even more importantly, forced removal enacts a desire to possess and hold some thing, some place. It enables one to meaningfully claim one holds something as one’s own. It’s an action that hides this intimate relationship behind narratives of property, legality, and power; it precedes the formation of the nation-state system, accompanying the long transition from feudal and vassal dynamics to the modern quotidian passport, all the while remaining hidden. Forced removal insists after all and even now that a presumptive question underlies everything: what would citizenship mean if not that one can’t be un-nationed? What would sovereignty mean if a sovereign, however defined, could not control the land mass and populace over which it claimed authority – a control that, by definition, entails ejection? Put differently, or as Achille Mbembe notes, “[T]he Western archive is premised on the crystallization of the idea of the border.” His point, of course, is not that the edge itself matters as much as its materialization of possession and of a self that is made real in and through possession or grounding. It’s worth attending as well to Mbembe’s notion that the “idea of the border” had to be crystallized. Borders are not natural; they are repeatedly created and developed. For Mbembe this process of crystallization structures Western history and Western grids of intelligibility. Forced removal, deportation, sits like the gargoyle before the door of Western history and the contemporary moment, signaling sovereignty and selfpossession. 

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  

Deportation constitutes the iterative founding of the state and its citizenry by naming its edges and their others. As Peter Nyers writes, such “external dimensions” found and refound the state: “Expulsions, deportations, transportations and coerced migrations” are constitutive of political communities. “Those on their way out constitute the state, the body politic, on those lingering within it.” Yet if forced removal is so important, why does it gain so little attention, especially from scholars? Its status as a taken for granted aspect of sovereignty remains even as two decades of mass deportations across the globe have accelerated, have garnered media notice, papal admonishments, art exhibits, and a blossoming critical attention to hospitality, refugee movement, mass death, and state violence. Even so, few question the principle mechanism suturing refugees, hospitality, and state violence together: the power of the sovereign to forcibly remove people from its bastion of power. In the United States the lack of academic attention to the deportspora, as Nyers calls it, has its roots in a historic understanding of state power woven into the founding of the republic and continually reinforced by the institutionalization of this understanding as well as its maintenance by ongoing activist organizations from grassroots enterprises to major foundations. It’s not just that scholarship is implicitly state-centric; it’s that scholars divided themselves into those who focus on the external management of states, the work of international law and migration, and those who focus on the internal management of states, the work of civil rights. This disciplinary division between the study of exogamous or international relations (immigration) and endogamous or civil rights (citizenship) hides the precarity of citizenship and fails to understand the reliance of citizenship on multiple modes of apprehension, on banishment both formal and informal; this logic extends to the laws which articulate the rights of citizens as the province of the judicial system and the treatment of migrants as the province of the executive system for which protection is derived not from rights but from procedure. In other words, immigration policies and the treatment of migrants in general are not considered deserving of the oversight of the Courts; they are not a matter of constitutional attention because immigration involves the exercise of sovereignty. The treatment of migrants is not a matter of civil rights; that norm drives migration to the edges of scholarly study and to the depths of bureaucratic procedures lacking the oversight of the judicial system. It’s not that scholars forget about forced removal per se. It’s that this bifurcation in how we think about belonging and movement prevents many from considering how grounded we are by the possibility of forced

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removal and how ensnared the sense of self is in this form of grounding. Thus, it’s not simply a question of the construct of the nation state with its passports and prisons and visas. Nor is it even a question of the way life is described and circumscribed by what counts as human or not. Nope. The problem of forced removal lies before passports and ICE (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and immigration laws were a thing. In the Euro-American imaginary, you can’t claim sovereignty if you can’t delineate your grounds. Scholars articulate the distinctions between exogamous and endogamous approaches as the logical outcome of the practice of sovereignty – but they are also the outcome of a particular form of empire-making that begins with feelings for possession. Such delineations were formalized at the start of the regrounding of the world – the series of dispossessions and displacements that included mass forced removal – through a lengthy process by which such practices were justified and narrated as acceptable. As Patricia Seed writes in Ceremonies of Possession, tied to the production of empire was the battle to justify taking possession of it. Such battles may have been an afterthought on the way to supremacy, but they revealed the crucial relationship to ground that still demarcates a state’s ability to banish people. As this scholarship reveals, these justifications articulate a relationship to ground that presumes possession rather than connection, or an ethic of belonging to a place, or a sense of responsibility to it that entails not hierarchy but rather an ensemble of connections and commitments in which place is understood not as inert but alive with capacity. This practice of empiring also articulates a particular hostility to seemingly ungrounded mobility. Seed explains that the Europeans all drew from long-held Roman rule to justify their violent seizure of Native lands and waterways. The Spanish argued that the reading of a “requerimiento,” a declaration of authority in the name of a Christian god and the pope, was sufficient to claim possession. The French conducted elaborate ceremonies of “transfer” involving Indigenous leaders and French officials. The Dutch relied on thick description to declare possession. The English, however, relied on a different form of materiality: “improvements” such as building fences, draining swamps, and planting fields signaled mastery, domination, and authority. While their sixteenth-century claim that action (farming and infrastructure) authorizes possession anticipated their soon-to-follow enclosure of their own commons, they would continue to rely on “improvement” to justify their attacks on Indigenous peoples’ differently enacted engagements with place. Moreover, this logic would burrow deep

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  

into Anglo-US norms including into property and zoning laws such that the traces of this claim about improvement authorizing possession remains vibrant today, just as the Spanish practice of declaring a relationship to a hierarchical world order has been laced into contemporary practices of racialization, most recently evinced by a president’s efforts to declare Muslims enemies of “civilization.” To better understand how these sixteenth-century ceremonies of possession affected the creation of this century’s deportspora, it’s important to understand the aftermath, or the materialization, of both the enclosures and the rituals authorizing possession. For what they signaled was not simply a particular understanding of ground, but also of human relation and connection to place and mobility, and hence to sovereignty. First, to presume that grounds may be possessed is to presume their status as inert; it is to presume grounds have no say in the matter. Second, to possess grounds – as possession evolved into Anglo/American law – is also to possess the right to stay on them, to not be banished from them, to defend with violence your access to them. This is not unimportant since Elizabeth I and James I both presumed they could banish to perpetual work and death those who did not possess property. Their populace was their property. In this they followed Henry VIII, who tortured and hung vagabonds by the tens of thousands. For Elizabeth, forced removal served as an antidote to further imprisonment of the “strolling poor.” Her acolytes, the proud elite of the British literary canon such as John Donne and Francis Bacon, joined this call. In sermons Donne argued that forced removal would “sweep your streets, and wash your dores, from idle persons, and the children of idle persons, and imploy them: and truly if the whole Country were such a Bridewell, to force idle persons to work, it had a good use.” His contemporary, Richard Hakluyt, would echo this sentiment, complaining that the unhoused poor were a “swarme of unnecessary inmates, a continual cause of death and famine, and the very original cause of all the plagues that happen in this kingdom.” Elizabeth and James would join with the Virginia Company sending poor people to the colonies to be worked to death. The right to remain, to avoid such banishment, to refuse removal to the colonies, was a hard-won outcome of revolutionary activism in England and crucial to the eventual notion of citizenry. But before such a right could be won, the English allowed local sheriffs to forcibly remove anyone entering his region who could not prove that they had enough property that they would not become a local burden. England thereby weaponized poverty to facilitate its colonization efforts

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by, as Sir Walter Raleigh celebrated, enabling the crown to “disburden” itself and “lay the load upon others.” A little over a hundred years after England passed such laws against the strolling poor, a newly independent set of states such as Massachusetts would enact similar deportation laws aimed at African and Native Americans and modeled on England’s habit of using forced removal for social control. Such efforts at banishment were not without their critics. Thomas Jefferson worried that laws enabling the removal of what he called “friendless aliens” were dangerous and would lead to laws attacking citizens for their ideological differences. In response, states restricted forced removal to those identified as “non-civilized” or non-Protestant. These laws would become the model for Congressional and court justifications for the forced removal of Native Americans who were deemed noncivilized and unChristian, thereby justifying their removal as a “menace to our civilization,” their beliefs, practices, languages, relationships slandered and reduced to the label “godless.” This argument would also prove useful in forcing the removal of Chinese laborers and the later colonial occupation of Puerto Rico, the inhabitants of which, the court declared, were to be considered “foreign in a domestic sense.” This sense of foreignness suggested a robust understanding of what could be assimilated into the culture of white settler power and what could not. Ultimately, of course, this slander against Indigenous peoples would merge with the long-held argument that “improvement” authorizes possession, coalescing into the bedrock of common sense authorizing the US state to forcibly remove anyone it deems a “menace to our civilization.” Given this buried linkage between the treatment of Native nations and contemporary deportation policy, any consideration of the literature of deportation arguably should begin with novels that explore any one of the iterations of forced removal enacted by the United States against Indigenous peoples from the Trail of Tears to the Navajo Long Walk. For example, Evangeline Parsons Yazzie’s novels tell the story of the Dziłíjiin Black Mesa community who were banished from their lands and forced to walk hundreds of miles with other members of the Navajo nation on a Long March to imprisonment because the United States desired their region for its purported holdings in silver and gold. Featuring different members of a single family, some of whom were kidnapped by Mexican bandits and sold into slavery and then rescued by other Indigenous peoples including the Mescalero Apaches, Yazzie’s novels illustrate the repertoire of slander white soldiers used against Indigenous peoples in order to justify their violent banishment. They show how the

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  

conceptualization of the Navajo culture by Anglo soldiers misses the rich Navajo knowledge of the land, the depth of understanding of the medicinal properties of the plants, the intricate relationships between concepts of living, of place, of sociality, and of aesthetic codes. Yazzie narrates conversations and interior monologues first in Navajo and subsequently translates them into English, enabling the reader to move between linguistic worlds. The novels connect the Long March to Spanish, Mexican, and US colonial practices of destruction and exploitation. As one leader explains while organizing a defense of the Black Mesa region In the past, our ancestors fought against the Spaniard. They came among us looking for gold and silver. When they did not find gold or silver, they turned to stealing Navajo children and women to sell them as slaves. Because they wanted riches, they declared war against our ancestors . . . Now we have a new enemy that looks different. They are called Mexicans. We have another enemy . . . the White soldiers.

By linking together these waves of colonial violence, Yazzie illustrates the centrality of forced removal – the creation of deportsporas – to the rescaling of military and economic power, the necessity to create deportsporas for practices of sovereignty. Sovereignty requires not simply a monopoly on violence; it also entails the control of movement itself. Yazzie’s novels illustrate not only how people survive and resist such power grabs, but how alternative worlds are possible, how it is possible to live and thrive without the scalar structure of controlled movement, without such a limited imaginary, without sovereignty and its hunger for borders. Yazzie devotes extraordinary attention to imagining deported life, thereby drawing attention not only to one strand of the history of forced removal, but also to the experience of life in detention and after banishment. Yazzie’s texts stand against, for example, most novels about migration and immigration, which tend to dwell on arrival and its aftermath, not on the realm of the held and bracketed, the in-temporality of abandonment. Published in a new era of forced removal, Yazzie’s novels do not explicitly connect the current era to that earlier incarnation of state power just as contemporary US migration scholars seldom connect current immigration practices to their roots in the treatment of the Indigenous peoples of the United States. Yet these connections must be studied if we are to heed Mbembe’s call to imagine a borderless world. Migration scholars also give surprisingly little time to life as a deported person even though, as Deborah Boehm writes, “state removals undo or

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erode citizenship and belonging more generally.” It’s not simply that mass deportation campaigns create craters between those within and those without, nor simply that, as Boehm argues, such removal destabilizes hope, finances, affective ties, and the grids that make life sustainable for those who enjoy something like a stable resident status, but rather that the machinery of deportation affects far more than the deported. For the campaign against outsiders relies on a tightened set of practices for insiders as well, applied unevenly and thereby broadly threatening the less powerful, whatever their status and, in effect, creating multiple tiers of citizenship. Deportation helps maintain what Cedric Robinson referred to as the “terms of order.” Banishment is not a single act; the banished and all those affected by their expulsion continue to sustain losses, to mourn disappearances, continue to try to live even as deportation destroys people financially; they lose what they’ve pulled together to sustain themselves (homes, food, cars, cash, all their stuff ). Beyond this immediately felt loss, a loss which affects far more than just those people removed, deported people must negotiate restructured kinship relations, fractured connections, disappearances as people are absorbed into the prisons, and detention camps or violent socialites once removed. As Boehm notes, the study of forced removal is not easy. Framed as “unidirectional” and nation-centric, forced removal expels the person and the account; both can disappear: the archive of the remover ends with the banishment of the removed. Deportations create what Boehm calls “phantom lives,” or the “faint outlines of that which came before, and, in the end, profound loss for those who migrate” and for their collective social networks. But it’s not just the dissolution of finances or the unraveled kin networks that wreak havoc, since forced removal also refashions temporalities: peoples’ lives are reframed by complex and variegated maybes, befores, afters, and what ifs, in an infusion of the conditional form, a new subjunctive manner of being. Few social rituals accommodate or acknowledge this new subjunctive condition; few forms of articulation have emerged to name a habit of mourning that is often reserved for the finality of death rather than the disappearance of the living. Temporal fracturing, affective/material dispossession occurs without social coefficients that can help a person navigate such loss, a new vulnerability, the brutality of waves of rupture that shred the fabrics that web people together. Forced removal works through chains of detention entailing upheaval along every link. Being “deportable” acts as a psychic enclosure, producing uncertainty about any form the future may take. Arrests may not result in immediate

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removal; instead people may be locked into a sort of “soft” confinement, a form of bail in which they must regularly report to government officials, a reporting that may become a jailing at any moment. Similarly, those deported often find themselves shamed by the communities to which they are removed if they are fortunate to escape violence. Across the globe the deported have now become a new source of revenue for informal economies; they may be trapped into dangerous work for drug cartels, kidnapped and held for the ransoms demanded of loved ones in other countries. In other words, the deportee must survive a whole series of ceremonies of dispossession of both the formal and informal variety, including shackles and mass hearings and kidnappings orchestrated by the state or its informal agents such as the new bands of thieves who thrive on the precarity of the banished. Lisa Ko takes up the challenge of imagining living a deportable life, experiencing forced removal, and then inhabiting the new realms banishment creates in The Leavers (). Featuring a mother and son who are forced to navigate removal, loss, and all their consequences and set in both China and the United States, The Leavers insists its readers keep track of the multiple vectors that removal engages and the collateral shattered socialities that leave people bereft. The plot revolves around Polly and her son Deming. Arrested in an immigration raid, jailed for more than a year in a detention camp, Polly is not allowed to contact her ten-year-old son after her arrest; once deported to China she hears about Deming’s fate from her ex-boyfriend. Deming had been forced into foster care and eventually adopted, without knowing what had happened to his mother, including not knowing that she had been deported; he sorrowfully assumes that he has been abandoned by his mother. Years later, having become a hapless musician trying to find his way in New York City, and finally having learned that his mother had actually been deported, Deming travels to China to find her. The novel effectively spoofs the white liberal academics who adopt Deming, change his name to Daniel, and encourage him to abandon his first language. It also portrays Polly’s experience as she returns to her home province in China, discovers squatters in her father’s home, and moves to a large city where she parlays her years in the states into expertise as an English teacher, and establishes a prosperous life, all the while refusing to seek out her son or tell her new husband about Deming. Polly also contends with the constant fear that her unauthorized life outside of her home province will garner a second banishment, even as she longs to reconnect with the son she imagines to be living in a Park Avenue

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penthouse. Such fantasies help her avoid self-flagellation: “I had messed up. I had given up on finding you so that I could sit at parties with people like this. Keeping you a secret, as if you were the thing that was wrong” (p. ). But of course such a sense of failure also masks the enormity of the task of locating her son after she has been deported and he has been ensnared by the US foster care/adoption system. This portrait of Polly’s double life ultimately mirrors her son’s sensibility. Both experience the cleavage forced removal creates as doubled – not just a then/now but also a besides/here, an ongoing proximity to containment and loss. In some ways Polly’s disappearance from Deming’s life illustrates a fundamental aspect of forced removal, illustrating why forced removal is an effective girder in sovereignty’s system of self-care. Deportation is difficult to study and understand, its impact uneasily quantifiable, because as is desired, its subjects disappear; they are no longer present to object, to make scenes, to be in the scene. Forced removal tells a story that is unidirectional; it creates a horizon of unknowing that is also an end-stop to the story as those removed seemingly evaporate from narrative, from scholarly, national, media attention. For Deming the unexplained disappearance of his mother induces a sense of traumatic abandonment that functions as an ever-present, “nagging, icy swipe of fear” (p. ). Seemingly abandoned but then adopted by his foster parents as a tween, Deming clings to memories of his mother, but his confusion over her disappearance also creates a deep, psychic gorge between his presence in a small, upstate NY college town and his memories of a Bronx apartment filled with relatives and friends alongside a sense that he was left only “with the crumbs of dialect on his tongue, smudges and smears of dissolving syllables, nouns and verbs washed out to sea” (p. ). While Polly can take comfort in a fantasy of Deming safely adopted into a rich home, he has no sense of possibility; he cannot mourn her as dead, her disappearance feels final but can’t be declared so. His sense of disappearing connection to his first language materialized as traces, “smudges and smears” continually “dissolving,” also comes to name his memory of his mother as well as his unheard dialect; he must find a way to mourn the living, to grieve a loss that cannot be contained by certainty or finality. The narrative of The Leavers purposely circles around Polly’s experience in deportation, purposely leaves out a clear account of why she didn’t let her son or her boyfriend know that she had been arrested and detained. Only after Deming finds her and they struggle to shovel out a path toward reconciliation does she describe the camp experience, an experience so traumatic she had not described it to anyone nor allowed herself to

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remember it. Months after Deming locates her, Polly confesses to the trauma and torture she endured in the deportation camp, and the struggle she faced surviving and rebuilding a sustainable life afterward. But, by articulating the violence of the camp and deportation, as well as the fear she lived with because of China’s own strict mobility and residential rules, she is able to clear space to establish an emotional connection with Deming/Daniel. The two can then acknowledge the shadow deportation had cast over their lives. If The Leavers takes up the effects of forced removal after deportation, other novelists offer instead a portrait of the experience of living within the conjectures and conjunctions entailed in living a deportable life. Forced removal shatters time. Or, it freezes it. Not only does it kidnap shared time away from kin networks, but the indeterminacy of deportation (the months or years in camps waiting for hearings, the delays in processing appeals, the shredded communications systems that disappear lovers, kids, friends into an unknown ether) also warps the linearity of temporal expectations. What sort of future is available in the now of waiting? What aspect of the past can one mull over when the collective meshwork of loved ones has been dissipated, killed, fractured? To capture this sense of temporal drag and fragmentation, Helon Habila and Jenny Erpenbeck offer stories of multiply fragmented lives caught within British and European deportation machines. Habila ponders the work of art in an age of mass repudiation, of mass banishment, of mass apprehension, and does so in part to consider the dynamics between listing and writing, ornamentation and history. Travelers roams across Europe and part of Africa, taking readers to a detention center in Germany, described as a “Brutalist edifice straight out of the Nazi architecture catalogue” (p. ) as well as a refugee camp in Italy and back and forth across the “insurmountable Atlantic,” with stops in Nigeria, Zambia, Mali, and London. But this movement is less about these places than about the motion itself – the travels of people forced from their homes, forced to live as refugees, banished to one temporary survival measure after another. Readers learn their stories, their experiences of European racism which the un-named narrator notes happen because “A black person’s relationship with Europe would always need qualification” (p. ). If the structure of the novel finds its echoes in The Canterbury Tales, nevertheless its resonances drift across the canon of British and continental literatures – Flaubert, Dostoevsky, Arnold, Milton, and Shakespeare appear and melt away – the resonances of their lines newly linked to the slow violence that forced removal has unleashed.

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This structure allows Habila to both tell the travelers’ tales and link them to long ago meditations on despair and loss with a demand that readers pay attention because, if one waits, Habila’s unnamed narrator insists, if one listens one will hear “a story, a fable, a secret, something so pithy, profound, that it is worth the wait” (p. ). Death surrounds the stories one hears; death disrupts them as well so much so that the novel closes with a death forgotten and literally swept away. If the novel is told through the eyes of the hapless PhD student, a man whose marriage has broken apart, who seems uninspired by his own research, who falls into situations rather than seeks them, who ends up in a refugee camp out of carelessness and not desperation, its telling aptly suggests the fractures the deportation machinery enacts. The narrative breaks apart as a story is recounted; anecdotes break apart as some disruption occurs in the telling; readers must make connections between characters and gaps in the stories, jump the chasms created by absent explanations, hope that people will find each other, and navigate the fantasies that shattered networks of lovers and caretakers will reform into manageable units of sustenance. In this sense the novel provides to someone with the leisure to read a novel a glimpse at the violence of world carceral habits. Habila’s novel can be interpreted, at least in part, as a response to Jenny Erpenbeck’s Go Went Gone, which also makes its focus a Berlin grappling with Germany’s and Europe’s long legacy of violent colonial projects in Africa. Where Travelers features an unnamed Nigerian doctoral candidate avoiding completing a dissertation on the impact of the Berlin Conference which divided up Africa in the late nineteenth century, Go Went Gone features a newly retired classics professor wrestling with retirement, the legacies of the Cold War and post-Wall life who, out of arrogant curiosity and boredom, begins interviewing refugees from a range of African countries and thereby discovers that he was not only ignorant about African histories but that he also knew next to nothing about Germany’s colonial legacies. He too, like Habila’s narrator, will draw from Greek and Roman literature as well as German to collate the refugees’ experiences with his own sense of the world. Both novels dwell with stories and both reinforce the State’s indifference to the devastation and loss banishment causes even in its anticipation by refugees dodging the deportation machine. Both novels also play with the fierce shackles that language gaps produce and thus both emphasize language learning as a path to seeming stability, thereby emphasizing the intricate relationship between language and sovereignty. If the unnamed

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narrator is deported, cast into a refugee camp in Travelers before ultimately finding his way home to Nigeria, back to the United States and then to London where he meets a new lover, the protagonist of Go, Went, Gone, Richard, hardly leaves Berlin at all. By learning refugee stories and grappling with loss and violence, Richard is transformed from an armchair ethnographer into an activist who ultimately opens his home to refugees displaced by Berlin’s refusal to house them. Erpenbeck thereby takes the unsurprising position for a novelist and suggests that actively listening to stories is not simply a form of hospitality, but that it is also transformative for the listener. Go, Went, Gone suggests that the empathy produced by engaging in stories about other people creates the possibility of complex cooperation and a new sense of solidarity. Empathy sounds the soothing notes. At the end of the novel it is the protagonist who has changed, his neat middle-class life disrupted. And if the German state’s and European Union’s treatment of refugees comes under scrutiny and some ridicule, the novel responds with individuation, with a single man’s shift from interviewer to host. If Go, Went, Gone, like Travelers, insists on the relationship between European colonial habits of violence and contemporary refugee efforts to find a sustainable life for themselves, neither text ultimately offers a critique of the state’s authority to remove people. If both are cynical, they nevertheless offer some romantic resolution (Habila offers a budding romance; Erpenbeck offers a transformed pensioner). Moreover, if Habila attempts through formal moves to give the reader a slender sense of the fractured sensibilities that forced removal enacts, Erpenbeck does not; rather the focus of the text remains on the befuddled Richard stuck navigating a bureaucracy that has never before been a burden to him. Travelers and Go, Went, Gone rely on the tension created by looming forced removal, a tension intensified as refugee story after story builds on violence both surprising and quotidian, both international and proximal. Both of these novels treat forced removal as the outer edge of experience – they tend to dwell in the comfortable knowability of Europe, even if it’s a Europe in turmoil; they leave the scary edge of banishment as the stray, as if it were a death for which knowability were denied, as if the postbanished life cannot be told. Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West takes a different tact: its emphasis on the violence of forced movement utilizes the surreal form of a door that magically appears and enables a magical crossing. If it begins with a civil war in an unnamed country and follows two lovers, Nadia and Saeed, across the globe as they seek stability, it too insists that its readers grapple with the state, with the state’s determination to control

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mobility and to define its power as such. And if the ludicrous door enables Hamid to skip past portrayals of violent borders, to mostly ignore the rigors of horrible crossings or treks across dangerous spaces, the conceit also allow him to draw readers’ attention to the question of possession. With this attention he offers the most anti-state stance possible by ultimately portraying a coalition of refugees and the working poor rethinking their relations to each other and to place. Hamid settles on a vision of settlement and respect; he portrays a post-chaos impasse in which those who arrive will pay a kind of rent to those who have cared for the place before them; this practice takes state-solutions out of the structure and offers instead a vision of respect and responsibility. While perhaps as romantic a conclusion as that offered by Travelers and Go, Went, Gone, and if its concluding portrait of an aging and peaceful Saeed returned home also leaves the reader mostly at ease, Exit West nevertheless opens a door to an imaginary more typically expressed in Native American fiction, one that acknowledges that how one connects to a place entails whether one takes a sense of responsibility for it, understands it as vibrant and agential – a shift from the violence of possession to an ethic of relation without scale. With its magical doors that vitiate borders, Exit West offers readers the chance to bypass much of the brutality that borders, as abjection machines, enact. Such a maneuver thereby allows Hamid to focus attention away from the promise of the citizen as a guarantor of the primacy of both the state and the interstate system and onto what Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari describe as the state’s primary purpose, to design and maintain efficient apparati to capture flows of all forms. In doing so Exit West argues for new possibilities of political assembly, possibilities that depend on shifts away from the norms of citizenship and deportee and toward what Nyers describes as a beyond to the status of irregular, a beyond to a “being otherwise” which can enact a different sense of connection, place, and movement than what the “dominant scripts of national citizenship would allow.” By focusing on the forms of sociality possible outside of the normative logics of citizenship and irregularity, Exit West not only highlights how states thrive by separating and dividing populations but also how people often refuse to refute that version of the political, shirking the tacky, “improper” qualities irregularity seems to evoke rather than forming new pathways and connections. Ultimately, however, this vision of a newly organized system of connection to place is possible in Exit West because the novel asks readers to exit the normativity of realism and follow a plot that relies on its characters apparating from place to place. In other

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words, Exit West keeps its vision of a new collectivity safely within the realm of the speculative. Just as states insist on their capacity to deport as a central signal of their sovereign power over people, mobility, and territory, they have also begun to use deportation as a form of branding and marketing featuring the system, the numbers of suffering people caught in its maw, an emblem of their efficiency, prowess, and effectiveness. One might, of course, read this advertising against itself – as a signal that the state fails to police its edges or more fully that the international system of nation states has collapsed and abandoned any claim to care and sustenance for ever increasing percentages of people, people abandoned by their supposed governments and banished to the nether spaces of irregular flow and informal status, psychologically shackled to deportability. This threat, this edge of banishment has attracted a number of US writers of young adult fiction who take it up as a crucial foil for romantic resolutions. Yet if the resolutions swerve away from the real and end with newly resolved, newly regularized strictures of belonging or some version of viability within the chain of immigrant structures that lead to citizenship, they nevertheless reveal the complex psychic terrain deportability entails. That terrain includes the impact of the state’s effort to stick “illegality” onto being, the difficulty of forming attachments when one can’t count on forms of stability – can’t predict a tomorrow because ICE – while also offering a glimpse at the alternatives to normative belonging that communities ultimately produce against constraints and in the name of connection. These alternatives are produced when communities must navigate the violence informality produces. For example, novels such as Alexandra Villasante’s The Grief Keeper (), Melissa de la Cruz’s Something in Between (), Marina Budhos’s Ask Me No Questions (), and Jacqueline Woodson’s Harbor Me () each highlight the extent to which irregular migrant status enacts a form of enclosure and produces a sense of carceral immobility, a fractured relationship to the kinds of temporalities stable affective networks can make possible. Inevitably, even as these novels invoke the long coupling of bildungsroman with nation formation, they challenge the stability of national narratives, deny the state’s claim to a certain moral high ground, and highlight its dependence on the violence of deportation, its seemingly irrefutable claim to hold a monopoly on movement. Young adult (YA) novels and nearly all fiction that engages migration rarely risk exposing readers to the violent blitz that abandonment and banishment so often entail. Banishment hangs on the edges of all of these YA plots even as some people, although never the central characters, are

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seemingly swept into a void, as a cloud of unknowing swirls around their futures while the plots move on. A notable exception to this trend is Daniel Peña’s Bang, which tells the story of a mother and her two young sons in the aftermath of their father’s forced removal. The consequences of his removal are bleak, leading to multiple and violent deaths, to the wretched living for the poor in a narco-war-torn northern Mexico, to a polity abandoned by its own government, and to the alternative systems of control created by the narcos, the army, and home-grown militias seeking to establish tight controls over a precarious populace. As Bang illustrates, without protection or resources, people thrown across the international line have few choices; their movements are hedged by meshworks of power. The novel traces the various violences deportees must navigate and the bewildering socialities that flourish within this violence. In the midst of these portrayals of violence Bang offers one lyrical passage after another about the mechanics of flight, reclaiming the affective pleasure that movement can provide and that structures of power (both formal and informal) seek to control. Bang directs our attention to quotidian practices and socialities that organize without state engagement. It illustrates the way states render people irregular by abandoning them, and it features a deportspora that must repeatedly accommodate shifts in power relations and attacks on networks of sustenance and support. Its attention, then, to flight and its efforts to attend to various forms of beauty offer not a distraction but an alternate configuration of the social and of the potential for a sociality that refuses to allow the powerful to lock people into place. As each of these novels suggest, the entangled logics of sovereign power structure the conditions of belonging and animate the sense of self made possible by the grounded horizons established by borders. As the West’s imperial powers extended across the globe hardening, or crystalizing borders, creating waves of loss and disconnection, socialities without attachment to developmentalist demands have been continually frayed and rendered precarious. Contemporary novelists in seeking to portray the costs of this conditioning offer, if not a vision of a world without grounded possession or with borders abolished, then at least the possibility of an acknowledgment of their costs.

Notes  Achille Mbembe, “The Idea of a Borderless World.” Africa Is a Country, November , , available at: https://africasacountry.com///theidea-of-a-borderless-world (last accessed August , ).

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 Peter Nyers, “Abject Cosmopolitanism: The Politics of Protection in the Antideportation Movement.” In The Deportation Regime: Sovereignty, Space, and the Freedom of Movement, ed. Nicholas de Genova and Nathalie Peutz (Durham: Duke University Press, ), .  Notable exceptions include Shahram Khosravi (ed.), After Deportation, Ethnographic Perspectives (Cham: Palgrave McMillan, ).  Nyers, “Abject Cosmopolitanism,” .  For a full discussion of this problem, see Linda Bosniak, The Citizen and the Alien: Dilemmas of Contemporary Membership (Princeton: Princeton University Press, ).  For a helpful history of the evolution of immigration law, see Daniel Kanstroom, Deportation Nation: Outsiders in American History (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, ).  Patricia Seed, Ceremonies of Possession in Europe’s Conquest of the New World, – (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ).  See Banu Gökariksel, “The Body Politics of Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban’.” Journal of Middle Eastern Women’s Studies, , no.  (): –.  Quoted in Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker, The Many-Headed Hydra: The Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic (London: Verso, ), .  Quoted in ibid., .  Quoted in Kanstroom, Deportation Nation, .  Ibid., –.  For an extensive discussion of this term, although not an archival history, which illustrates its importance to the efforts to justify the forced removal of Indigenous peoples, see Christina Duffy Burnett, Burke Marshall, Gilbert M. Joseph, and Emily S. Rosenberg (eds.), Foreign in a Domestic Sense: Puerto Rico, American Expansion, and the Constitution (Durham: Duke University Press, ).  Kanstroom, Deportation Nation, .  Evangeline Parsons Yazzie, Her Land, Her Love (Flagstaff: Salina Bookshelf, ); Evangeline Parsons Yazzie, Her Enemy, Her Love (Flagstaff: Salina Bookshelf, ); Evangeline Parsons Yazzie, Little Woman Warrior Who Came Home (Flagstaff: Salina Bookshelf, ).  Yazzie, Her Land, Her Love, –.  Hagar Kotef, Movement and the Ordering of Freedom: On Liberal Governances of Mobility (Durham: Duke University Press, ); John Torpey, The Invention of the Passport: Surveillance, Citizenship and the State (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ).  Deborah Boehm, Returned: Going and Coming in an Age of Deportation (Berkeley: University of California Press, ), . It should also be noted that this trend is changing as more and more scholars and activists attend to those forcibly banished from countries such as the United States.  Donald Kerwin and Robert Warren, “Putting Americans First: A Statistical Case for Encouraging Rather than Impeding and Devaluing US Citizenship.” Journal of Migration and Human Security, , no.  (): –.

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 Cedric Robinson, The Terms of Order: Political Science and the Myth of Leadership (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, ).  Boehm, Returned, –. For a rich discussion of fractured temporality see Boehm, –.  Ibid., .  Lisa Ko, The Leavers (Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, ). All subsequent citations appear in parentheses.  Boehm, Returned, .  Helon Habila, Travelers (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, ). All subsequent citations appear in parentheses.  Jenny Erpenbeck, Go Went Gone, trans. Susan Bernofsky (New York: New Directions, ). All subsequent citations appear in parentheses.  Mohsin Hamid, Exit West (New York: Riverhead Books, ). All subsequent citations appear in parentheses.  Daniel Heath Justice, Why Indigenous Literatures Matter (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, ).  Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press), .  Peter Nyers, Irregular Citizenship, Immigration, and Deportation (London: Routledge, ), .  Marina Budhos, Ask Me No Questions (New York: Simon Pulse, ); Melissa de la Cruz, Something in between (Toronto: Harlequin Teen, ); Alexandra Villasante, The Grief Keeper (New York: Penguin, ); Jacqueline Woodson, Harbor Me (New York: Nancy Paulsen Books, ).  Daniel Peña, Bang (Houston: Arte Público Press, ).

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Afrofuturist Speculations and Diaspora Yogita Goyal

To think Afrofuturism without considering diaspora is near impossible, given how deeply the notion of an alternative African epistemology lies at the core of so much Black speculative cultural production. Afrofuturist visions and the question of diaspora have thus always been intertwined. Whether we consider speculative writing from the African diaspora of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries or the current explosion of Afrofuturist literature, film, and music, we come up against recurring visions that probe the boundaries of the meaning of home, displacement, return, belonging, and escape. That is to say, at the core of Afrofuturist ventures are precisely the same ideas that animate the concept of diaspora. Whether a concern with constructing alternate myths of origin by disrupting linearity, searching for connections between submerged histories and possible futures, or theorizing the interface of race, technology, and the human, Afrofuturist projects are centrally preoccupied with the meaning and scope of diaspora as a concept. At the same time, Afrofuturist aesthetics also reframe conventional understandings of the concept of diaspora. This chapter will thus examine both how Afrofuturism is diasporic in scope and how speculative writing remakes models of the Black diaspora derived from historical trauma. That diaspora and slavery have been inextricably linked in theorizations of the Black Atlantic is now well-known. As Paul Gilroy argues, the same “themes of escape and suffering, tradition, temporality, and the social organization of memory” that we associate with “Jewish responses to modernity” also delineate the imaginative landscape of Pan-Africanist and Black nationalist thinking for much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Toni Morrison explains the association forcefully when she declares that “modern life begins with slavery . . . Black women had to deal with post-modern problems in the nineteenth century and earlier. These things had to be addressed by black people a long time ago: certain kinds of dissolution, the loss of and the need to reconstruct certain kinds of 

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stability.” Accordingly, the critical deformation of Western notions of time and space became crucial to redemptive works of memory, enabling a capacious sense of Black globality with interconnected histories and conjoined political futures across national boundaries. And yet, if concepts of diaspora and the Black Atlantic were once firmly anchored in what Gilroy influentially termed the slave sublime – a memory of slavery that escaped the constraints of Enlightenment rationality and generated a utopian counterculture to modernity – it now seems clear that invoking slavery does as much as to divide the Black diaspora as it once did to unify it. In fact, slavery might well serve as the fulcrum of the fracture – the inability to translate the grammar of Blackness as Brent Hayes Edwards put it, or the sign that produces the necessary misrecognitions of diaspora in Kenneth Warren’s words. In the United States, the distinction between slave-descended Blacks and Caribbean or African immigrants splices and cleaves race with ethnicity. “Middle Passage Blackness” may be hegemonic, to use Michelle Wright’s pithy phrase, but, as new research in AfroEuropean and Afro-Latin networks develops, it is necessary to demarcate more and more clearly the limit and frame of varied geographies and diverse historical formations of diasporas. In Africa, the question is perhaps most vaunted. Nothing dramatizes the gulf between African and African American memories of slavery than Saidiya Hartman’s plangent memoir, Lose Your Mother, for which Africa itself becomes a scar or wound, a graveyard that will not yield up the losses of the archive. At the same time, flourishing research in South Africa on the Indian Ocean and Cape Malay slavery expands and reframes existing paradigms of Atlantic slavery, pushing against longstanding models of Atlantic exceptionalism and expanding our sense of the relations among slavery, indenture, and colonialism. Given that most of these geographically expansive explorations have remained tethered to the drag of the slave past, it is worth asking how the valence of diaspora changes when it is delinked from trauma and oriented toward the future. Considering the relation between Afrofuturism and diaspora thus promises to highlight more sharply the varied negotiations of imagined pasts and desired futures in Black speculative writing. The schisms across the diaspora are signaled further by the search for new vocabularies – such as Nnedi Okorafor’s Africanfuturism – to claim an anchor in the aesthetic and epistemological coordinates of the African continent. Because realist forms of diasporic connection are often interrupted by historical and affective exigencies, the importance of fantasy, romance, and speculation as enabling conditions for the existence of the idea of diaspora

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cannot be overstated. As Richard Iton shows in his study of post-Civil Rights Black popular culture, even while access to the formal realm of political activity expanded with the end of Jim Crow, “the negotiation, representation, and reimagination of black interests through cultural symbols has continued to be a major component in the making of black politics.” Any discussion of aesthetics is thus always already a matter of politics. Iton’s notion of a “Black fantastic” accordingly emerges from (and in dialogue with) historical forces, referring to “the minor-key sensibilities generated from the experiences of the underground, the vagabond, and those constituencies marked as deviant – notions of being that are inevitably aligned with, in conversation with, against, and articulated beyond the boundaries of the modern.” The quest for an exit from the depredations of slavery, segregation, and ongoing racial dispossession has historically taken multiple forms, including the creation of countercultures of modernity as theorized by Gilroy, on the part of such Black Atlantic intellectuals as Martin Delaney, Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, Richard Wright, and Morrison, all of whom explore dissonant ways of moving outside the prison house of Enlightenment reason. Early twentieth-century examples of African American speculative writing – ranging from Pauline Hopkins’s Ethiopianist romance, Of One Blood (–) to Du Bois’s “The Comet” () to George Schuyler’s satirical science fiction, Black No More () – all reveal the ideological contours of such a search for an alternative epistemology. For Du Bois and Hopkins, an imagined or reconstructed African homeland often serves as the locus of such speculative fantasies, where the horizon of different kinds of political futures – beyond the still unfolding horrors of slavery and post-Reconstruction regimes of terror – becomes visible in a language that does not speak of full citizenship alone, but imagines a transformation of what seems possible. For Hopkins, understanding the true damage of slavery requires the resurrection of an alternate epistemology – an Afropolis buried beneath the ground, but waiting to return, just like the repressed memory of her passing protagonist, the Harvard-trained doctor denying his Black heritage. When confronted with proof of “the wonderful and mysterious Ethiopians who had a prehistoric existence of magnificence, the full record of which is lost in obscurity,” and learning of an ancient prophecy (“from lands beyond unknown seas, to which many descendants of Ethiopia had been borne as slaves, should a king of ancient line – an offspring of that Ergamenes who lived in the reign of the second Ptolemy – return and restore the former glory of the race”), Hopkins’s passing protagonist begins to understand his destiny and learns to jettison

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his internalized shame to assume his rightful position as monarch of the lost kingdom. Through all of this, Du Bois’s influential theorization of double-consciousness – a soul split between Africa and America, race and nation, selfhood and fragmentation – accompanies Hopkins’s exploration of hidden selves and lost cities. Such themes of restoration of stolen honor and masculinity, the promise of great treasures and adventures outside of one’s native land, the existence of a hidden Afropolis beneath the squalor of a contemporary city, and the prophecy of a royal destiny for an otherwise ordinary man clearly resonate across time – all of these are, for instance, visibly revived in Ryan Coogler’s blockbuster film, Black Panther (). We can thus identify a consistent strain of African American speculative writing that seeks to understand the force of anti-Black historical violence in the United States at various moments in time by way of a turn to an African utopia, one that promises not only a political and worldly redemption but also figures as the healing of a scattered Black family, reunited after a long estrangement. The loss brought about by diaspora in such visions – trauma, dislocation, disintegration – can be repaired, and the dispersed members of the family unit can return and reconcile. Such diasporic fantasies have frequently been challenged by African thinkers, who refuse to let their homelands become fodder for imaginative projection alone. Even in the early twentieth century, making visible the fractures of transnational encounters, we find a figure like the Gold Coast lawyer, Joseph E. Casely Hayford, who crafts his  novel, Ethiopia Unbound, as an explicit rebuttal to Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk. Hayford constructs his own version of a Pan-African utopia by rejecting Du Bois’s notion of double consciousness as a function of his diasporic fragmented self, advocating a spiritual return to Africa to find wholeness of mind, body, and spirit. The sphinx thus becomes his emblem for Africa, not as inscrutable but rather as determined: “Watch that symbolic, reposeful figure yonder, and you can but see one soul, one ideal, one striving, one line of a natural, rational progress.” Drawing on familiar tropes of diaspora, Hayford believes that African Americans have been scattered in strange lands through the depredations of slavery, but just like “Israel of old,” they may “walk out of Egypt,” “conserve the characteristics of the race” even “though sojourning in a strange land.” He also confidently asserts that Africa’s destiny as the “cradle of civilization” would be realized again, as the West would decline and Africa resume her place at the pinnacle of world civilization. Shifting out of its realist register, the novel shows the protagonist Kwamankra ascending to an Afrocentric heaven to

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converse with his deceased wife, only to learn that his true destiny is to become an anti-colonial race messiah. In “the city of the ancient dead of his race,” he discovers that the gods themselves are distraught by the colonization of Africa and have resolved that a pan-African prophet will be sent to earth to redeem Africa’s racial soul. Kwamankra has to learn that it is his destiny to assume this mantle, to serve as “witness unto the truth” and fulfill the ancient Ethiopianist prophecy – Say unto the mighty that the cry of the afflicted and the distressed among the sons of Ethiopia has come up to us, and we will visit the earth . . . [We will] establish in Ethiopia a kingdom which is different from all other kingdoms. Mammon will have no place therein, and an angel of light . . . shall guard the gates thereof.

Despite challenges from such writers as Hayford, Du Bois’s powerful theorization of double consciousness has continued to animate Afrofuturist projects to the present day, and we could easily detect the imprint of his understanding of an unstable energy both holding together and pulling apart a Black body in such diverse visions as the music of Janelle Monáe and FKA Twigs, the surreal aesthetic of Wangechi Mutu, or the wax-cloth covered mannequins of Yinka Shonibare. It is necessary, therefore, to examine Du Bois’s contribution to Afrofuturism and to diaspora. In his most explicit science fiction fable “The Comet,” Du Bois imagines the end of the world and, for him, this involves thinking about love. The possibility of a romance between a Black man and a white woman – the last two people alive on earth, a new Adam and Eve in a postapocalyptic Eden – serves as an archetype for the nation and its potentiality. The tail of a new comet seemingly wipes out all human beings in New York, but the sole survivor, Jim, a messenger, experiences this catastrophe through the lens of Jim Crow, navigating the segregated city with the weight of past injury. Stopping at a restaurant for some food, he thinks “Yesterday, they would not have served me.” Du Bois thus probes the meaning of the question that attends so many speculative visions – how will race matter at the end of the world? When Jim first encounters the wealthy young white woman who seems to be the only other survivor “the human voice sounded in his ears like the voice of God.” Both assess the new reality and wonder if “death, the leveler” can bridge the divide between “the rich and the poor,” those not considered “human” until now “alien in blood and culture” and those anointed as the norm. But, soon, for both “the vision of a mighty beauty” emerges. For the woman, a “mighty prophecy of her destiny” suggests that she is “no mere woman”

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but “primal woman; the mighty mother of all men to come and Bride of Life” for whom the man beside her was “no longer” a “strange outcast of another clime and blood” but “Son of God and great All-Father of the race to be.” For Jim, a vision of glory also appears The shackles seemed to rattle and fall from his soul. Up from the crass and crushing and cringing of his caste leaped the lone majesty of kings long dead. He arose within the shadows, tall, straight, and stern, with power in his eyes and ghostly scepters hovering to his grasp. It was as though some mighty Pharaoh lived again, or curled Assyrian lord.

Du Bois’s tendency to reach for the sublime directly intersects with his expansive geography, summoning ancient empires as the model for the utopian future he dares to imagine. But the world intrudes and, as the living white men approach, the threat of lynching brings this glorious vision crashing down, as Jim finds too his lost wife – “brown, small, and toil-worn” holding the “corpse of a dark baby.” In this way, the nation reveals its limits as a container for utopian thinking, as the ever-present threat of racial violence, the gaping divide between rich and poor, white and Black, allows for no transcendence even in a crisis precipitated by the otherworldly comet. No wonder that Du Bois turns to a different kind of speculation – that of world revolution based on a coalition of darker races – in his subsequent novel Dark Princess (). The novel ends not with the “corpse of a dark baby” but the birth of “Messenger and Messiah to all the Darker Worlds” – a child at once Jesus and Buddha, born to the descendant of American slaves and Indian royalty, saluted by a pageant invoking Hindu, Muslim, and Christian gods, but also the “old slave song of world revolution: ‘I am seekin’ for a City – for a City into de Kingdom!’” The same idea explored in “The Comet” – a sublime union between a primal man and woman – bespeaks not just the end of the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow, but heralds a future anti-colonial revolution global in scope and tied to the struggles of labor worldwide. At the novel’s extravagant conclusion, the Indian princess of the title proclaims: “in , the Dark World goes free – whether in Peace and fostering Friendship with all men, or in Blood and Storm – it is for Them – the pale Masters of today – to say.” Du Bois’s blend of imperial pageantry, Afrocentric Marxism, and romantic nationalism in Dark Princess, which has long confounded readers, expresses the search for a form adequate to the yearnings of Black apocalyptic thought mixed in with (as Alain Locke termed it) “rich deposits of straight sociology.” This peculiar blend reveals the possibilities of aesthetic forms

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that push against boundaries separating politics and art, but also reveals fault lines as Black nationalism displays a fascination with imperial spectacle as a vehicle for reconstructing heroic masculinity. It is worth recalling that Du Bois had long thought of himself as a messianic leader of the race: his years at Harvard, for example, were spent in constructing an “imperial self” so that he could develop into “one of Hegel’s worldhistorical-men, a dark Messiah” who would save Black America. Along similar lines, Darkwater itself could be understood as a speculative work, searching for alternatives and probing the limits of racial realism in politics, literature, and sociology. As Amy Kaplan suggests, not only does Du Bois expand his geography globally to consider the connections between segregation at home and colonialism abroad in Darkwater, even “the lyrical interludes between the chapters blur the boundaries between heaven and earth, cosmology and history.” Accordingly, alongside Du Bois’s many contributions to the development of diaspora as a concept – his involvement with pan-African conferences, his insistence on the African roots of World War I, his excavation of African contributions to world civilization, and, in his later years, his global anti-colonialism, Marxist internationalism, and dismantling of white supremacy – we must also consider his speculative labor: his numerous flights of fancy that imagine apocalypse and Jubilee alike. Even his foundational notion of double consciousness expresses alienation as simultaneously historical, spiritual, and existential. While rooted in the specificity of postReconstruction United States (where “one ever feels his two-ness, – an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder”), Du Bois persistently extends his gaze across time and space: “the shadow of a mighty Negro past flits through the tale of Ethiopia the shadowy and of Egypt the Sphinx.” It thus makes sense that all these currents – alienation and prophecy, Africa-centered paradigms of civilization and the reconstruction of lost histories, fragmentation and desired wholeness – revive in the first flourishing of academic discourse on Afrofuturism in the s. Mark Dery starts with the conundrum of “why do so few African Americans write science fiction?” He finds this especially perplexing because the historical conditions of Black life seem ripe for inhabiting a “sci-fi nightmare,” visible in such practices as “branding, forced sterilization, the Tuskegee experiment.” Dery defines Afrofuturism as “speculative fiction that treats African-American themes and addresses African-American concerns in the context of twentieth-century techno culture – and, more generally,

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African-American signification that appropriates images of technology and a prosthetically enhanced future.” Dery’s wide-ranging conversations with Samuel Delany, Greg Tate, and Tricia Rose establish the expansive terrain of Afrofuturism, encompassing hip-hop, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s art, the music of Sun Ra, Herbie Hancock, and George Clinton, Milestone Media comics, B-boy bricolage, cyberpunk, Afrika Bambaataa, and Black dance culture of Kraftwerk. As Tate explains, “Black people live the estrangement that science fiction writers imagine” and the experience of being a stranger in a strange land that attends African American experiences in the diaspora finds vital expression through the aesthetics of alienation, dismemberment, and remixing. For Tate, it must also be understood that “black reverence for the past is a reverence for a paradise lost,” and thus the question of utopia is never far behind. In a special issue of Social Text, Alondra Nelson extends Dery’s coinage of Afrofuturism by highlighting the limits of the futures industry that naively posits a “raceless future paradigm” and opposes Blackness to “technologically driven chronicles of progress.” Challenging the digital optimism of the era, Nelson identifies the ways in which Africans continue to be coded as primitive to derive a model of an exemplary postmodern virtual self for the twenty-first century. Because imaginings of race-free futures, or worlds in which racial difference no longer matter, abound in the predominantly white genres of science fiction literature and film, Nelson calls for models of futurity grounded both in Black history and visions of a future where race neither magically disappears nor becomes allencompassing. Afrofuturism is, thus, an extension of projects of historical recovery, deeply invested in creating models of identity, collectivity, and conjoined histories by navigating competing pulls of remembering the usable past and imagining a livable future. Accordingly, Nelson returns to Du Bois’s idea of double consciousness to define Afrofuturism as Janusfaced – looking back to Black history even as it creates models of futurity. Du Bois’s description of alienation as multiple personalities existing in one body therefore helps frame numerous other binaries – human/animal, human/alien, and human/cyborg. Because Afrofuturism “looks backward and forward in seeking to provide insights about identity, one that asks what was and what if,” Nelson insists on its complex temporality, refusing linearity and developmental thinking, even as past and future orientations collide. Ishmael Reed’s  novel, Mumbo Jumbo, where the lost ancient African text is refigured as something that “jus grew” in the author’s necromancer hands thus serves as a “paradigm for an African diasporic technoculture.”

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In subsequent years, such concerns with historical recovery, the exploration of double consciousness in multiple forms, and the search for habitable futures continues to occupy the imaginations of Black speculative writers, as they reshape the relations among race, technology, and art for the twenty-first century. Such pioneering collections as Dark Matter: Reading the Bones and Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond, as well as the scholarship of Ytasha L. Womack, andré carrington, Sami Schalk, and Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, among many others, ensure that this field of study is finally becoming established within academic disciplines. At the same time, the proliferation of Afrofuturist themes, imagery, and forms in popular culture widens the scope of the term considerably, prompting perhaps the need for further distinctions among varieties of speculative writing. In terms of diaspora, one of the most notable aspects of the contemporary Afrofuturist universe is the prominence of African writers. As Nnedi Okorafor has argued, Africanfuturism might well differ in scope and meaning from African American imaginings, and her own fiction reveals the ways in which conceptions of Africa as the signifier of a lost homeland or a fantastical utopia, hidden from the world, no longer suffice, as new writing by Nalo Hopkinson, Tomi Adeyemi, Lesley Nneka Arimah, Deji Bryce Olukotun, and T. L. Huchu reshapes the Afrofuturist landscape. For Okorafor, the term “Afrofuturism” does not accurately describe her fiction, and so she declares that “I am an Africanfuturist and an Africanjujuist. Africanjujuism is a subcategory of fantasy that respectfully acknowledges the seamless blend of true existing African spiritualities and cosmologies with the imaginative.” She thus emphasizes the centrality of historical and ongoing continental African epistemologies, where spirit and matter may not be opposed in the same manner as post-Enlightenment Western societies. She continues to value the deep connections among the descendants of the African diaspora, claiming that they are “connected by blood, spirit, history and future.” However, she is also firm about the differences between African and African American forms of speculative writing: “The difference is that Africanfuturism is specifically and more directly rooted in African culture, history, mythology and point-of-view as it then branches into the Black Diaspora, and it does not privilege or center the West.” These two aspects – a centering of African perspectives and decentering the West – characterize much recent speculative writing from Africa. Exploring Okorafor’s own fiction further helps explain how and why such differences matter, and how they continue the earlier concerns of Black speculative writers as well as where they diverge.

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Okorafor’s most celebrated novel, Lagoon (), for instance, turns to the familiar scenario of an alien invasion. But the novel refuses to consider the intrusion through the lens of past histories of slavery, genocide, or colonialism, highlighting the fusion of spiritual and scientific quandaries of its human protagonists (a marine biologist, a soldier, and a hip-hop artist) as well as the alien ambassador, Ayodele. By emphasizing the past, present, and future of Lagos, rather than turning to the familiar global cities of London or New York, Okorafor underscores the value of an Africancentered viewpoint. Such an insistence doesn’t simply appear in choice of setting or subject – rather, Okorafor’s aesthetic choices reveal a deep imbrication within Africa, rather than the diaspora. Her earlier novel, Who Fears Death (), takes up the difficult questions of genocide, ethnic cleansing, and particularly of rape as a weapon of war in the setting of a post-apocalyptic Africa. These horrific real-world events are finely woven into a compelling coming-of-age story of the protagonist Onyesonwu (whose name means “who fears death”), seemingly marked at birth with the violence of rape. Outcast as an “Ewu” – a child born of rape, destined to be rejected by both tribes (the light-skinned masters, the Nuru, and the dark-skinned slaves, Okeke) – Onye discovers her destiny as the chosen one who will rewrite the history of the world and put an end to the violence and conflict plaguing the land. Okorafor’s Africanfuturist practice consequently draws on techniques of fantasy, science fiction, and speculative fiction to represent the geopolitical concerns of the contemporary world. For instance, Who Fears Death touches on the controversial and highly charged issue of female genital mutilation or clitoridectomy. The topic has been much debated in literature, journalism, and human rights and legal discourse. But the novel offers a unique insight into the subject, as we follow the eleven-year-old Onye in her changing feelings with regard to the circumcision. She first opts for the practice herself, since she already feels excluded from her community, and wants the bond that comes with sharing this experience with other girls. But the novel shows how deeply painful and traumatic the event is for all the young girls, who do become life-long friends after the experience, but all of whom also grow up to understand the circumcision as a practice that seeks to police and discipline female sexuality, and finally reject its hold on them. The scalpel used to cut them was bewitched to cause intense pain at any moment that they experience sexual arousal, a clear allegory for the control exerted on female sexuality. Onye’s rebellion, then, is not just against slavery and genocide, but is also a deeply and urgently feminist one, as she fights the limitations placed on her by everybody in her society – from her teachers to her lover to her friends – refusing to

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succumb to any suggestion of a lesser destiny for her as a woman. She is the agent of her own prophetic future, not just somebody chosen by fiat – she has to earn the right to be called a sorcerer and healer. One of the most striking aspects of the novel is its representation of an African landscape and a culture that is clearly legible as African, and yet not one that is presented either as overt ethnography or as an exotic mystery. Rather, Okorafor writes in a manner that renders Africa epistemologically knowable, from inside codes, norms, and practices that are undoubtedly unfamiliar to the reader but rendered as intelligible and logical in the fictional world of the novel. Where even realist writers struggle with such a feat, Okorafor manages this task within the framework of the genre of fantasy and science fiction, a truly remarkable feat. In doing so, she joins the company of such celebrated realist Nigerian writers as Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Chris Abani, all of whom offer ways of thinking about Africa that escape what Adichie calls the danger of a single story, restoring meaning, fullness, and dignity to African pasts and presents. The novel thus serves as a brilliant interrogation of the intersections among race, class, gender, and ethnicity, without reducing the human complexity of any of its characters. Speculative fictions do not always prioritize those aspects commonly regarded as the purview of the realist novel – interiority, psychological depth, or the complexity of social relationships between teacher and student, friends and lovers, and parent and child. Who Fears Death achieves precisely these goals, generating not only a finely calibrated account of an entire community and its moral, ethical, and social norms but also a meditation on good and evil, on masculinity and femininity, and on the complex nature of power and its relation to history and storytelling. Zahrah the Windseeker () further instantiates Okorafor’s ability to embed profound meditations about knowledge, sexuality, and difference within the format of a young adult fantasy novel. Unafraid of strangeness, or of vulnerability, Okorafor is adept at creating intense portraits of a child’s encounter with fear and hope, embedding psychological depth and intensity in a genre that is often given to flat characters. But she also creates a highly-developed and intricately-plotted magical or mythological world – with its own distinct topography, which incorporates technology with nature. In contrast to a representation of a technologically advanced future, a stock feature of many conventional science fiction texts, Zahrah the Windseeker depicts a world where the relation between old and new technologies (such as computers and books) remains vaunted, and where nature takes precedence over any scientific advancement. The planet Ginen is made up entirely of vegetation, lending the novel environmental and eco-utopian sensibilities as well. Characters may shift astral planes,

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transform into vultures or worms, but still fear old computers or a Great Book that lays down a racist law. Reminiscent of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, but with a clear African sensibility and within a vibrant economy of exchange and commerce, the novel engages in sustained intertextual dialogue with such major African writers as Achebe, Amos Tutuola, and Wole Soyinka. I should mention that, while the novel’s forbidden forest is certainly reminiscent of Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, it also evokes – in its representation of a Dark Market – J. K. Rowling’s Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter series. Such a tendency to straddle highbrow and popular culture is an increasingly visible feature of contemporary fiction, and a marker of the playfulness of the young adult novel. At the same time, Zahrah the Windseeker asks the question of what it means to not fit in to society, to be marked since birth by a physical representation of difference like hair or skin color. The enormously empathetic protagonist again invites the reader to get lost in the world of the novel, and to learn to defamiliarize such constructs as civilized and savage, synthetic and natural, and male and female. In doing so, Okorafor straddles the divide between literary fiction focused on migration, slavery, civil war, genocide, and racism and genre fiction commonly assumed to traffic in pleasure and escapism. Okorafor’s fictions make such distinctions impossible to maintain, deliberately staging the relation between science fiction and geopolitics, the bildungsroman and gender politics, and the classic quest narrative, the romance, and the fairy tale in relation to the issues of citizenship, migration, and ethnic cleansing. In challenging readers to examine what it means to be familiar or foreign, normative or outcast, Okorafor’s ethical amplitude highlights the nexus between power and knowledge without proposing easy solutions. As a harbinger of African-centered Afrofuturist writing, Okorafor thus presages ever more complicated refigurations of the relations among speculative writing, projects of historical revision and recovery, and theorizations of diaspora that move past the impasses and fractures of earlier moments in vibrant and unexpected fashion.

Notes  Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, ), .  Interview with Toni Morrison, “Living Memory: Meeting Toni Morrison,” interview by Paul Gilroy, Small Acts: Thoughts on the Politics of Black Cultures (London: Serpent’s Tail, ), .  Brent Hayes Edwards, The Practice of Diaspora: Literature, Translation, and the Rise of Black Internationalism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press,

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      

                

 

); Kenneth Warren, “Appeals for (Mis)recognition: Theorizing the Diaspora.” In Cultures of United States Imperialism, ed. Amy Kaplan and Donald Pease (Durham: Duke University Press, ), –. The best examples of this fracture are the concerns outlined by ADOS, American Descendants of Slavery, who argue that Black Americans should be distinguished from African and Caribbean migrants. Michelle Wright, Physics of Blackness: Beyond the Middle Passage Epistemology (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, ). Saidiya Hartman, Lose Your Mother: A Journey along the Atlantic Slave Route (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, ). Nnedi Okorafor, “Africanfuturism Defined.” Blogspot, October , , available at: http://nnedi.blogspot.com///africanfuturism-defined.html (last accessed August , ). Richard Iton, In Search of the Black Fantastic: Politics and Popular Culture in the Post-Civil Rights Era (New York: Oxford University Press, ), . Ibid., . W. E. B. Du Bois, Darkwater: Voices From Within the Veil (New York: Dover, ); Pauline Hopkins, “Of One Blood, or the Hidden Self.” In The Magazine Novels of Pauline Hopkins (New York: Oxford University Press, ); George Schuyler, Black No More: Being an Account of the Strange and Wonderful Workings of Science in the Land of the Free, A.D. – (College Park: McGrath, ). Hopkins, “Of One Blood,” , . Joseph E. Casely Hayford, Ethiopia Unbound: Studies in Race Emancipation (London: Frank Cass, ). Hayford, Ethiopia Unbound, –. Ibid., . Ibid., . Ibid., . Note the parallel to Black Panther once again, as the film features T’Challa visiting the spirit realm of his ancestors to seek advice from his father after his death. Ibid., , . Du Bois, Darkwater, . Ibid., . Ibid., , . Ibid., . Ibid., –. Ibid., . Ibid., . W. E. B. Du Bois, Dark Princess: A Romance (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, ), , . Ibid., . Quoted in Claudia Tate, “Introduction.” In W. E. B. Du Bois, Dark Princess: A Romance (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, ), xxiv. For more on the novel’s blend of romance and politics, see Yogita Goyal, Romance,

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Afrofuturist Speculations and Diaspora

 

        

     



Diaspora, and Black Atlantic Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ), – and Arnold Rampersad, “Du Bois’s Passage to India: Dark Princess.” In W. E. B. Du Bois on Race and Culture: Philosophy, Politics, and Poetics, ed. Bernard W. Bell, Emily R. Grosholz, and James B. Stewart (New York: Routledge, ), –. For more on Du Bois’s Afrocentric Marxism, see Wilson Moses, The Golden Age of Black Nationalism – (Oxford: Oxford University Press, ). David Levering Lewis, W. E. B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race, – (New York: Henry Holt, ), . Amy Kaplan, The Anarchy of Empire in the Making of U.S. Culture (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, ), . On Darkwater, see also Susan Gillman, Blood Talk: American Race Melodrama and the Culture of the Occult (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, ) and Eric Sundquist, To Wake the Nations: Race in the Making of American Literature (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, ). W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk (New York: Oxford University Press, ), , . Mark Dery, “Black to the Future: Interviews with Samuel R. Delany, Greg Tate, and Tricia Rose.” In Flame Wars: The Discourse of Cyberculture, ed. Mark Dery (Durham: Duke University Press, ), , . Ibid., . Ibid., . Ibid., . Alondra Nelson, “Introduction: Future Texts.” Social Text, , no.  (): –. Ibid., . Ibid., . Bill Campbell and Edward Austin Hall (eds.), Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond (College Park: Rosarium, ); andré carrington, Speculative Blackness: The Future of Race in Science Fiction (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, ); Sami Schalk, Bodyminds Reimagined: (Dis)ability, Race, and Gender in Black Women’s Speculative Fiction (Durham: Duke University Press, ); Ebony Thomas, The Dark Fantastic (New York: New York University Press, ); Sheree R. Thomas (ed.), Dark Matter: Reading the Bones (New York: Aspect, ); and Ytasha L. Womack, Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture (Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books, ). Okorafor, “Africanfuturism Defined.” Ibid. Nnedi Okorafor, Lagoon (New York: Saga Press, ). Nnedi Okorafor, Who Fears Death (New York: Daw Books, Inc., ). Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu, Zahrah the Windseeker (Boston: Graphia, ). Who Fears Death also at once recalls the dystopian fictions of Octavia Butler and Samuel Delaney and the massively popular Harry Potter series.

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 

Major Concepts

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 

The Shock of Relation Queer Diasporas in Law and Literature Mrinalini Chakravorty

The ghost of Oscar Wilde spooks interrogations of queer asylum seekers to the United Kingdom. A caseworker admits to using Wilde as a litmus test in interviews with prospective queer asylees: “I would look at how they’ve [sexual orientation asylum claimants] explored their sexuality in a cultural context, reading Oscar Wilde perhaps, films and music.”  Other “women who had sought asylum” report that immigration tribunal judges routinely asked them “whether they had read Oscar Wilde and what TV shows they liked, [and] whether they used sex toys and ‘how they had sex’.” Wilde’s spectral appearance in immigration cases reveals how refugee claimants from countries as different as Uganda, Saudi Arabia, Jamaica, Pakistan, Cameroon, Nigeria, and others have to demonstrate a peculiar cultural literacy if they wish to be granted asylum in Britain on the basis of persecution due to their sexual or gender identity. Queer subjects who experience maltreatment by the state are assumed to share a literary knowing, in this case their familiarity with that iconic Victorian writer infamously incarcerated for his homosexuality. But why? What does asking “the Oscar Wilde question” reveal about the ties between queerness and the asylum process? What does it suggest about literary queerness as a specific way of knowing desire? How does it let us fathom the formations of queerness as a normative discourse struggling with its own loose ends? The figure of Wilde is a coded cipher for how sexual identity is discursively understood through law, proclamation, disclosure, and persecution. For queer refugees seeking legitimacy within the borders of a state, the invocation of Wilde by the host state demarcates a threshold. Attesting to familiarity with Wilde affirms alliance with a wellknown text/test for homosexuality in the West. Not knowing about Wilde is taken as a sign of being in a wilderness of desire before sexual knowledge. Petitioners who don’t know Wilde as their progenitor or share his pose are deemed atavistic sexual beings whose claims about being categorically queer may be refused. In the asylum regime, being gay, no matter from 

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

 

where you come, means to be culturally knowledgeable and knowable in certain ways only. This chapter considers the entanglements between queerness and diaspora. It asks how the vital matter of desire – who we love and how – is roused by the traversing of borders. In particular, it considers the gestures of compliance and knowing, an aesthetic knowledge no less, that queer asylees must evince to be found credible enough to receive political shelter and hospitality. To be sure, while the Oscar Wilde test is on one level incidental, it is also symptomatic of a host of tendencies, definitions, and differentiations that cleave our efforts to truly understand queerness as a thwarting of sexual rigidities and an embrace of play. This chapter ultimately makes the case that the genre of queer diasporic literature – a genre specifically concerned with sexual and national border crossings – attends to the caprice of nonnormative desire. Queerness in and as diaspora attests to the looseness and shocks of desire, its constant forays across congealed boundaries. This chapter takes queerness to be a diasporic experience in and of itself, but also as it is represented in diasporic literature to challenge normative terms of what queerness is and how it signifies. It shows that the queer refugee before the law is not coextensive with the experience of queerness as diaspora. While all refugees are diasporic, the diaspora is more expansive than the predicament refugees face. It is revealing that border interrogations spiral beyond the query on Wilde to probe applicants’ sexual predilections on all fronts. As Claire Bennett and Felicity Thomas report, lesbians seeking asylum are grilled about a dizzying array of details: [W]omen had been asked about sex positions, as well as being asked to justify why they chose to be gay when they knew it was illegal in their home country. Several women described being asked what shows they watched, whether they read Oscar Wilde, how many Gay Pride marches they attended and which gay clubs they frequented. One woman described how the immigration judge commented that she did not look like a lesbian while another was told in court that she could not be a lesbian because she had two children.

Aside from being severely intrusive, these questions reveal a generalized cultural terrain of conformity to Western stereotypes about sexuality that inflect how queerness is permitted to traverse staunchly guarded political borders between states. “Failure to meet these preconceived ideas,” Bennett and Thomas note, “often resulted in asylum claims being refused and women’s individual credibility being questioned.” The brutal inquisition queer asylees face, often while indefinitely detained, exposes the dirty side of how sexuality is policed in the global North.

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Queer asylees inhabit the beleaguered edge of queerness in diaspora. The menace asylees face in immigration courts demonstrates the violent functioning of homonationalism as a coercive tool of the state that forcefully splinters any idea of a liberated queerness that is at once collective and multiple. Indeed, the doubts about credibility and self-definitions queer refugees endure return us to formative questions that have always haunted queer studies: What qualifies as queerness? How is it known and professed? Does the actual practice of sex matter in how desire is felt? What kind of education in perception, experience, and history does queer identity reflect? How does the racial queerness of queers of color and diasporic queers sunder queer normality? Wilde’s apparition casts another kind of shadow still. As a figure of tormented homosexuality and extravagant literary talent, Wilde serves an ironic link for the connections between queerness and diaspora. Written from the depths of isolation and confinement in Reading Gaol in , Wilde’s De Profundis is a terrible love letter full of yearning and regret, belligerence and escapism. A turbulent unfinished literary work whose daily compulsory writing he undertook to stave off the hard prison labor that nearly cost him his life, the letter points to aesthetics as a kind of deferral and reprieve. Wilde is literally saved by his literary labors – conferencing with Dante and the Bible, Goethe and Shakespeare – as he ponders his own struggle and desire for freedom. The text shows how persecution and flight correspond; De Profundis, as Kamila Shamsie notes, showcases the making of Wilde as a refugee, desperate to flee from the punitive measures to which he is subject. “I had previously thought of Wilde as a man who went into exile after completing his prison term,” Shamsie writes, “But when Wilde went to France, where it wasn’t a crime to be gay, he was a man fleeing unjust laws that could be used to persecute him. He was no exile; he was a refugee.” Of course, Wilde, unlike queer refugees in England today, has the luxury of anticipating respite upon fleeing his home-country: “I am to be released, if all goes well with me, towards the end of May, and hope to go at once to some little sea-side village abroad,” he wrote. His wealthy status reassures him that he may yet rejoice in the glory of approaching spring and resume writing and reading beautiful books in a pastoral European setting of his choice. Now, by contrast, refugees face indefinite detention. When deported, they are forcibly returned to places where their lives are possibly endangered. It is no surprise then that Wilde stands in contrast to them in many ways. The dominant queer-canonical image of Wilde is about the performance of queer arrogance as a mode of defiance

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

 

that is perilous for refugees to embrace. Wilde’s effrontery is a sign of an exemplary queerness yoked to his class privilege that is unavailable to most queer refugees. He serves as an exceptional model for homosexuality because, despite his imprisonment, he is bold in his embrace of pleasure. “I don’t regret for a single moment having lived for pleasure. I did it to the full, as one should do everything that one does. There was no pleasure I did not experience,” he wrote even as he was partially repentant. As a paragon for persecuted homosexuality, Wilde’s daring confessions (“of being a flaneur, a dandy, a man of fashion” governed by “sensation,” “passion,” and “perversity”) crystalizes into an ideal of sexual disclosure that is risky for more vulnerable subjects. Queer petitioners who are deemed insufficiently identified with a common pose of being gay – for example, men who don’t have a “gay demeanor,” are not effeminate or campy or flamboyant – are routinely rejected by the courts. Others are refused leave to stay because they “don’t look gay,” haven’t partied at the right clubs, watched the correct shows, marched at pride events, or because they breached heteronormative reproductivity by having children. The credibility of their queerness rides on an understanding of sexuality as a set of discursively performed habits, ones, as the next section shows, that are linked to the disciplinary history of queer studies itself. The strange irony of asking prospective queer asylees today if they’ve read Wilde (or otherwise mirror him gesturally) is that such questions reveal the inquisitors as lacking any idea of Wilde’s situation. Wilde’s power comes not from his embrace of any gay sensibility or gender bending posture that he adopted. Nor does he represent a certain esthete of queerness that transcends culture. Rather, his significance is in his powerful indictment of a society that incessantly puts homosexuality on trial. That Wilde is outcast and forced to flee the nation of his citizenship constitutes the basis of his censure: “Society, as we have constituted it, will have no place for me, has none to offer.” If there is a solidarity between this famously persecuted writer and all other queer refugees, it is in the recognition that queer love has often been envisioned as an escape beyond the horizons of its confinement. The modern history of queer persecution, prohibition, and trial has made it so that the practice of queerness is undertaken as flight – a flight from any harsh regime of norms binding sexual practices in order to sever them. This at least has been queerness’s political posture vis-à-vis sexual identity. When José Esteban Muñoz writes that “Ecstasy is queerness’s way,” he imagines queerness as a utopian insistence on elation or rapture capable of being outside itself, as the Latinate etymology of ecstasy as standing outside of

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oneself might suggest. In this sense, queers, we could say, have always stood obliquely outside categorical norms of gender, sexuality, and nation. That is, queerness is inherently diasporic. This aspect of queerness, understood as the scattering of desire, as diaspora that is, is particularly illuminated by queer literary portraits. Yet, even as being queer and diasporic are mutually constitutive, the experience of queerness in diaspora has been riven by racial, class, and cultural difference. The Wilde question – and others like it – reveals how the inquisition of asylees violently and narrowly forges identity in queerness in terms of conformity to presumed hegemonic scripts. So, while we can think of queer desire as always inflected in and through a diasporic impulse, the material experience of queers in diaspora as either free or forced migrants is of incommensurate struggles.

Imagining Queer Answers Let us consider the discursive ways queerness – in the immigration courts and elsewhere – is often authenticated. How does a composite of performative poses, bodily gaits, articulations, and social norms come to confirm what is and is not queer? How is it that sexuality comes to depend on proof at all? Or why does queerness need to profess itself as a truth claim reconciled to culture-wide clichés so as to be found believable? To grapple with these questions, it is useful to think about the porousness between the insights of queer theory and cultural dispensations at large. When the effects of queer theory are conjoined with the lessons of literary or aesthetic ideas about queerness, a certain way of “reading queerness” is normalized as part of the Euro-American public sphere. Leo Bersani has written of “a homo-esthetic” or “gay art” that is so loosened from homosexual identity as to transform into a general affirmation of “the radical potential” of “sameness.” This way of thinking of queerness as an aesthetic posture imbued in a universally felt impersonal narcissism unmoored from any particular bodily experience sets up the conditions for thinking of queerness as a floating state beyond history or race. Queerness is conceived as volatile and beseeched with a sensibility all its own but nevertheless is not subject to differences of culture or history. It is this uniformity of queer performance that the interrogations which I began with seek to confirm. Michel Foucault’s declaration that the “homosexual [became] a species” in the nineteenth century was a watershed moment in queer studies. The History of Sexuality makes the most compelling case for how the modern state’s “incitement to discourse” about sexuality sets the terms of its social construction and regulation. According to this theory, a “singular

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

 

imperialism compels everyone to transform their sexuality into a perpetual discourse” in disciplines as far-ranging as “economy, pedagogy, medicine, and justice” so as to “institutionalize the sexual discourse.” As Foucault notes, “an immense verbosity is what our civilization has required and organized” around sexual identity. Families, schools, doctors’ offices, courts, confessionals, psychiatric examinations, literary tell-alls and more, Foucault argued, serve as incubators for the compulsive dissection of sexuality. In modernity sexual self-fashioning is permitted only in resonance with the myriad disciplinary institutions that manage it. The biopolitical terrain of sexuality that Foucault describes has achieved the status of a confirmed diagnosis in that it is often taken as a truth claim. Indeed, as queer refugees know all too well, the excessive documentary evidence they must supply and the taxonomies of queerness they must fit into attest to the absolute isomorphism between the insights of queer theory and liberal juridical institutions. Queer refugee articulations of sexual experience are most often deemed incoherent within the discursive regimes of the West. In a sense, queer refugees speak as subalterns within a prefabricated script of how sexual identity may be socially expressed in order to be recognized. This script is derived from the idea that in modern civic life the sexual subject complies with the separation of the private and public spheres so that individuals experience sexuality mostly in the former, and other kinds of subjectivities (of the state, of capital, of the nation) in the latter. Continuing the Foucauldian distinction of sexuality as a “uniquely modern production,” David Halperin argues for a marked contrast between how sexuality functions in modernity versus in antiquity. According to this model, in antiquity personal desire is conscripted by culture so that culture is the modality through which sexuality is understood. This split between highly individuated modern sexual subjects who know how to pose publicly as sexual beings and the ancients for whom all sexual experience is only ever social is of immense importance for the lag in which queer asylees find themselves. Like those in antiquity, queer refugees today find that for them “it is . . . society which haunts the body’s sexuality” and not the other way around. In other words, by overwhelmingly rendering claims to queerness by refugees unintelligible – % of sexual orientation and gender identity claims to refuge are rejected – modern juridical systems relegate these subjects to a time prior to modernity. Queer refugees exist suspended in modernity, their sexuality a sign of ambiguity, backwardness, and lag. Caren Kaplan and Inderpal Grewal correctly write that “the traditionmodernity divide at work in the study of sexuality can be found in the

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literature on migration and refugee asylum” so that the “process of migration” to the West itself is “figured as the movement from repression to freedom.” Only those immigrants who successfully “deploy such narratives” are seen as inhabiting properly gay and lesbian subjectivity within the metropolitan juridical systems of the West. Writing about queer immigration to Canada, David Murray makes a similar point as he documents how “the gate keeping mechanisms of the Nation-State” ensures that only a “particular narrative of sexual identity and experience emerges as hegemonic or normative, thus producing a template of the ‘real’ or ‘authentic’ sexual minority refugee.” By and large, however, queer migrants are judged to be improperly socialized sexual subjects whose entire experience of sexuality is seen as broadly cultural foremost and not personal. Sexuality that is culturally other is deemed primitive and counter-modern. Queer refugees whose articulations of desire don’t match racialist colonialist attitudes of the host states are therefore refused asylum on the basis of culturalist assumptions. Whether claimants exercised the requisite amount of discretion in their home country or disclosure upon arrival; whether the sexual persecution they suffered was the result of the enforcement of a homophobic national law in their home state or simply communal; and, finally, how well applicants could evidence their sexuality through acts and behaviors rather than their professed dispositions have all been factors in the jurisprudence of queer refugee cases. In making the demand that queer migrants follow a prescribed way of attesting to and authenticating their sexuality, the liberal juridical state demands that sexuality become “discoverable” and fixed, rather than intimate and fluid. The irony of this strategy is that, in invoking culture as the criteria for judging the queerness of others, the modern West reveals its own immutable cultural bearings for understanding sexuality. The fiercest disciplinary debates within queer studies have often been waged over the static discursive limits of first world queerness. Foucault’s thesis about the genesis of homosexuality in the modern West underscores the orderly constraints that were invented to contend with sexuality in a particular historical location and time. Even lexicons of queerness from nineteenth-century inceptions of this account (pederast; sodomist; invert; buggerer; eunuch; dost; hijra; kothis; etc.) suggest taxonomic fixity. Sex itself, after Foucault, is understood as “a regulatory ideal” originating in the West that enforces norms but is also “part of a regulatory practice” that controls bodies, according to Judith Butler. Butler is correct in suggesting that the idea that sex is a social construction is not in itself the problem. In Bodies that Matter, Butler shows that the “materiality of sex is

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

 

constructed through a ritualized repetition of norms,” that lets us perceive “constructions as constitutive constraints.” “Which bodies matter and why?,” Butler asks. It is important to see that such an analytic of sexuality is nevertheless one of constraints or policing. Indeed, the virulence of homonationalism, as Jasbir Puar has so compellingly shown, is yoked to and derives its violent orientalist impetus from such constraints. There is no theory here of nonnormatively whimsical desires or of the flourishing of spontaneous and mobile sexualities. Queer diasporic studies which include queer of color critique and what Jafari S. Allen identifies as “black/queer/diaspora studies” are insurgent reclamations of the unsettled transports of desire illegible within programmatic categories of first world queerness. A queer diasporic lens illuminates sexuality in terms of desire’s capriciously changing forms. As Allen notes, “To follow the routes of black/queer/diaspora is to interrogate dynamic, unsettled subjects whose bodies, desires, and texts move.” An understanding of queerness as and through modes of scattering, as the word diaspora (in Greek, dia – across or through; speirō – scattered) connotes, grapples with sexuality as a restless, moving, and experiential ontology. However, it is important that we admit that an ontology of sexuality as movement is also a politics of sexuality. As queerness moves, it illicitly crosses borders, transgresses cultural regulations, and adapts to new geopolitical horizons. In the edited collection Queer Diasporas, Benigno Sanchez-Eppler and Cindy Patton do this work of plotting how “sexuality is on the move”: “Attending to the mobility of sexuality across the globe and body, as materiality and a discourse,” Sanchez-Eppler and Patton write, “brings new insights into the individual and collective paths of queer escape and reconstitution.” Desires that consort with dispersals and border crossings reveal an “extraordinarily complex picture of the frictional relation between geopolitical and embodied desires,” they write. As these scholars suggest, when queer bodies traverse “officially designated spaces” of nation and culture, metropole or province, “intricate realignments of identity, politics and desire take place.” When queer asylees negotiate their lived sexuality within regulatory regimes that don’t recognize them, they audaciously reveal the petrification of sexual identities. They also animate queerness – however incrementally – as a volatile condition of sexual self-fashioning against the tyranny of what David Eng and Jasbir Puar identify as the “universal queer subject of rights and recognition” celebrated in the neo-liberal west. Against hardened conceptions of queerness as either same-sex sexual acts or a middle-class white ideal of seemly gay families seeking marriage or rights, queer refugee

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self-fashioning is often deliberately polyglot and culturally shape-shifting. Thus, for example, Martin Manalansan shows how the cultural acceptance of bakla, a widely used Tagalog word for homosexuality, effeminacy, and gender bending, suggests that “Homosexuality in the Philippines has long been seen as a ‘non-issue’.” Critiquing the globalization of Stonewall as the touchstone for the public assertion of a self-aware and politicized queerness, Manalansan persuasively argues that for queer migrants from the Philippines, their reluctance to be visibly out is not about Filipino prohibitions, but rather about the repressive climate migrants face in the United States. For these queers, coming out visibly means risking uniquely American forms of racist shaming and degradation shored up by US immigration laws that historically criminalized homosexuality akin to Communist activity. The refusal of Filipino bakla to profess their alliance with commemorating Stonewall or in “coming out” for Pride marches is the consequence then of racial and class exclusions immigrants face in the United States, and not a result of some internalized homophobia that is the result of their cultural lag from the liberal mainstream. Chandan Reddy, writing about the case for asylum filed by Saeed Rahman, a gay Pakistani in New York City, makes a similar point in his analysis of the US state’s effort to situate itself as the protector of gay immigrant rights. “Both the intensity and specificity of homophobia in the lives of queer immigrants of color,” Reddy writes “are founded on local conditions in the US . . . and are produced at the intersection of the state’s immigration policies and its fixation on the hetero-patriarchal family unit.” These examples, like many others, signal that it is the restrictive aspects of liberal attitudes about homosexuality that limit the terms by which sexual desire is permitted to enter modernity. Queer of color immigrants are in this calculus placed “at the limit of civil society” and “seen as non-individuated, non-rights bearing subject[s]” within the folds of liberal social order. Those whose articulations of desire comport with the state’s conception of sexual civility may be rescued and offered protection under the rubric of “human rights,” while others are expelled. The collective effort of queer diaspora studies has been to contest the obstinate ways in which sexual expression is linked narrowly to the supremacy of Western modernity alone. As Gayatri Gopinath puts it, conceptually the idea of the queer diaspora “allows us to see those forms of sexual subjectivity, desire, and relationality rendered invisible and unintelligible within conventional mappings of diaspora and nation, as well as in dominant Euro-American articulations of queerness.” Queerness and diaspora generate uncommon desires. If queerness is about expulsion from heteronormal kinship, diaspora is about being separated from

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a prior homeland. Both produce identities formed through the experience of dislocation and nonbelonging. As queerness is often shunted from conceptions of the family, diaspora finds itself un-homed by the nation. Still, neither queer subjects nor diasporic communities, we must remember, are inherently politically avant-garde. That is, queerness and diaspora are fully lived in the context of time and place. As Caplan and Grewal, Avtar Brah, Gopinath, Kobena Mercer, and others warn, queer subjects and diasporic collectives are subject to historical forces like everything else. Both may be swayed by visions of liberal inclusion in a future not yet here or by a nostalgia for a long forsaken pristine past. They are both identities that are, to use Stuart Hall’s words, “‘in production,’ which [are] never complete, always in process, and always constituted within, not outside representation.” The identities queer and diasporic must, in other words, be understood as constituted by the specific historical conditions by which they are shaped, including, in the present time, that of capitalist modernity. As we will see in the next section, literary portraits of queerness as diaspora clarify this vexed representational history. Yet, the commonality between these identity formations arises because the claim to being queer or belonging to a diaspora involves staking affirmative attachments in the midst of prolonged social severance. James Clifford has traced the thick conceptual contours of diaspora as a description for dispersed peoples, whether Jewish, Greek, Armenian, and of more contemporary populations of immigrants, exiles, refugees, and expatriates who have been compelled to leave one place for another. Diasporic communities, Clifford notes, negotiate border crossings, maintain difficult affective ties to other places and cultures, and permanently dwell in displacements. Moreover, as queerness negotiates new conditions for love, “diaspora consciousness,” Clifford writes, “lives loss and hope as a defining tension” in adapting to new homelands. The experience and language of “diaspora cultures thus mediate, in a lived tension, the experiences of separation and entanglement, of living here and remembering/desiring another place.” The condition of being queer and diasporic share a transhistorical ontology of loss and attachments that resolutely resist erasure. Despite pressures to normalize, assimilate, deny, or forget, queerness in/as diaspora continually proclaims identities that are transformational and unsettled, constituted in the sense meant by Hall as “matters of becoming as well as of being.”

Queer Literacies “When I first started writing, I hated myself for being so uncertain, about images, clauses, ideas, even the pen or journal I used,” Ocean Vuong

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confesses in his autobiographical novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (). Moments later, Vuong arrives at the realization that for him “doubt is everywhere” (p. ). A poetic coming of age story, On Earth relays the narrator’s disorienting experiences as a queer refugee from Vietnam struggling to find a foothold in Hartford, Connecticut. The hallmark of this novel – like other queer diasporic fictions – is that it crystallizes identity around uncertainty. Along with doubt, Vuong approaches the many facets of his identity by embracing a sense of the transformational. For him, Vuong’s many identities, whether as a poet and writer, a son, a grandson, the illegitimate child of a biracial war baby, a lover, a gay man, or a working-class immigrant jostle against one another, some aspect of himself always unsettling and shaping the others. Formally the novel reflects this kaleidoscopic way of framing identity through recursive tellings. On Earth uses an epistolary ruse as the narrator drafts, deletes, and redrafts letters in English to his illiterate mother telling her how he came to be who he is, a queer writer (p. ). The letters from son to mother present vignettes of experience that are startlingly frank for their revelations of sexual adventure, of barebacking for instance, as well as of the insecurities the narrator harbors as a refugee in America. At the core of the letters are the overlaid modes that Vuong’s confessions takes. The scene in which Vuong “comes-out” to his mother (“The first time we fucked, we didn’t fuck at all”), for example, is boldly graphic in its disclosures of his making love to Trevor (p. ). In this sense, the story rehearses the queer pose of leaving the closet Eve Sedgwick and others have written about. By making it a part of Ocean’s confession, queer love is made intimate to diasporic existence. Yet, what is most remarkable about the missive is his admission that “the very impossibility of [my mother’s] reading this is all that makes my telling it possible” (p. ). In this way, On Earth notes a constitutive disjunction between the queer declarative gesture and the unknowing or illiterate migrant mother’s ability to receive it. The full experiences of queerness cannot be apprehended by all the diasporic community it seems, just as the refugee’s predicament remains obscure to first world queers. On Earth embraces address as only ever incomplete, open to revision and intercession (by other readers in this case) but without guarantee of reception. The dynamic of the lost letter that misses its intended recipient yet flutters open for other readers tellingly stages the supple literary relationality between queerness and diaspora. The portrait of being queer in Vuong’s novel is enmeshed with his being dislocated as a refugee migrant in America. The very nature of autobiography Vuong inhabits is based on

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murkiness and not clarity: “You asked me what it’s like to be a writer and I’m giving you a mess, I know. But it’s a mess, Ma – I’m not making this up,” the narrator admits (p. ). At every turn, On Earth refuses the clarity of a transparent identity in favor of a fragmented, complicated one. Vuong’s desire to represent himself in and through writing is not about cogent individual self-expression. Rather, he claims a writerly inheritance that is a consequence of a complex historical extension of American imperialism in the world. As a war refugee, speaking in Vietnamese, his “mother tongue,” Vuong notes “is to speak . . . entirely in war” (p. ). The language of queer autofiction in the novel is saturated with that of occupation, war, and flight. The condition of violence that shadows Ocean’s displacements between nations is what drives his resolve to be an “interpreter” who would “fill in our blanks, our silences, our stutters” (p. ). In short, Ocean Vuong’s whole meditation on writing as a queer diasporic author is a political exercise in mimetic displacements that evoke actual ones. “I code switched,” Vuong admits “I took off our language and wore my English, like a mask so that others would see my face, and therefore yours” (p. ). The prism of the queer diasporic novel reflects myriad contingent identities, not the author’s alone. On Earth gives us a collective frame for seeing identity as an aggregate of displacements, each evoking “the shock of relating,” yoked to the author’s avowal of a hesitant method of self-fashioning (p. ). Vuong’s life as a queer refugee comes from refracting relations that often remain oblique or opaque to each other: his grandmother, who prostitutes herself during the war; his absent father; his drug addicted white lover; Hartford, his adopted city; and his adopted American grandfather. In Poetics of Relation, Édouard Glissant writes about his identity in diaspora. For Glissant, relation identity is the crux of diaspora, and root identity is its antithesis. Rootedness is founded on myths of atavistic origins, the repressed violence of filiation, territorial entitlements, and, ultimately, conquest. In contrast, Glissant theorizes “the shock of relating” as formed through the contradictory pulls of cultural contact. Relationality is conferred through chaotic linkages aside from violent filiation, does not anticipate legitimacy, nor aspire to entitlements, and is nonterritorial. “[It] does not disturb me to accept that there are places where my identity is obscure to me,” Glissant admits “and the fact that it amazes me does not mean I relinquish it.” Literature of the queer diaspora is a mode of seeing relational identifications as Glissant does in terms of care, of proximity and of shared experiences, and not as the measure of solitary individual outcomes. It is a mode of abiding ways of being that are unknown. “Relation

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identity,” Glissant writes “exults the thought of errantry and of totality.” It thrives in a poetics of difference that valorizes opacity over transparent forms of identification. The queer diaspora is a relation diaspora. Vuong, queer poet and refugee writer, can only articulate himself in and through people whose life alongside his own reveal his obscurities to himself without having to relinquish any parts of himself. The novel remains insistently unfinished because it refuses to congeal into an essence of how queerness and diasporic difference may be balanced as a constancy of authorial identity. Vuong’s relational way of framing queerness in and through diaspora emerges in the moment he discloses his sexual identity to his mom saying “I don’t like girls” (p. ). He tells us right away that he chooses to frame his love of boys in this fashion not because it situates his desire in a refusal of girls per se but because, to use the French colonial term “pédé, short for pedophile” common in Vietnam would be to degrade his desire with an “epithet for criminals” (p. ). In addition to laying bare the colonial scene that inflects his declaration, the scene stands out for the mother’s responses. For his mother, Ocean’s coming-out is risky because she understands the violence of homophobia in America as a culture-wide danger akin to xenophobia. While the shades of her son’s queer desires may be obscure to her, the illiterate mother nevertheless fully grasps the threats queer refugees face: “Tell me,” she asks, “are you going to wear a dress now?” And then “They’ll kill you . . . you know that . . . They kill people for wearing dresses. It’s on the news” (p. ). This scene punctuates the terms of Vuong’s queerness as uniquely understood in terms of the violence that attends expressions of gender bending. The novel immediately elaborates the context of the violence in reference to another scene. For Vuong, his mother’s reference to “the news” conjures the  homophobic shooting rampage that killed and wounded over fifty queer revelers in a Florida nightclub: Last summer, twenty-eight year old Florida native Omar Mateen walked into an Orlando nightclub, raised his automatic rifle, and opened fire. Forty-nine people were killed. It was a gay club and the boys, because that’s who they were – sons, teenagers – looked like me: a colored thing born of one mother, rummaging the dark, each other, for happiness. (p. )

The omniscience of the narrative is meta-diegetic, tying the refugee mother’s fear of her son’s queerness to the threat of specific violence he will face in American society. That the violence is perpetrated by Omar Mateen, a second generation diasporic from Afghanistan, is a sign of how homophobia ranges across racial and cultural lines. Indeed, because the

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shooter’s homophobia is difficult to locate in either Afghanistan or the United States, it reflects the fraught condition of the American diasporic experience. As Vuong notes, Mateen’s homophobic rage ravages colored queer bodies. Significantly, by referencing Orlando, the novel ensures that the mother’s fearful response to Ocean’s coming out is not understood as the same revanchist attitude toward sexuality that drives the perpetrator. Nor is it flatly taken as the symptom of homophobic rejection prevalent in immigrant communities. Rather, On Earth situates the mother’s apprehension for Ocean’s safety within a complex account of fear where refugee dread of suffering racist violence coincides with the racialized masculinity of American anti-gay violence enacted in the club. Queer precarity is echoed by the existential anxiety of refugee life. The notion that queer diasporic fiction offers us profound insight into the intersectional drifts of identity begs the question about the salience of literature to our conceptions of self and desire. After Sedgwick, queer studies scholars have recognized the value of conceiving of sexuality in terms of fiction. Arguing that “sexuality is essentially a literary phenomenon,” Christopher Looby makes the bold case for thinking about literary innovation and sexual self-invention as corollaries, allowing us to see that “sexuality is itself a fiction, an imaginary composite of many different experiences, identifications, and performances.” The analogy between literature and sexuality enables us to perceive of erotic conduct, including gender dispositions and bodily sensoria, in terms of varying social norms and to understand these norms as artificial or constructed fictions. The “literary public sphere” shows how sexual identity is negotiated, performed, encountered, and circulated, Looby argues. If we understand that the literary archive is reflective of our normal as well as eccentric habits of sexual expression, the “analogy between the stylization of literary language and stylization of the sexualized self” will become apparent. Thus, some literary works actively participate in the invention and expansion of erotic being while others don’t. The point I’m making about Vuong and other queer diasporic novels is that they deliberately experiment with refashioning categories, queering diaspora, and internationalizing queerness. The literariness of sexuality permits the erotic field of desire to remain indeterminate and inscrutable in a way that refugees who are subject to verifiable testimonials before the law are not allowed. Queer diasporic literature privileges thinking about identification in terms of the circulation, reception, and the reading or decoding of social scripts to which we may or may not adhere. Sexuality, in other words, is remanded to a literary

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sensibility, an intuition about how attachments and desires order the world that is. In a warped way, this link between sexuality and literariness is what the question about Wilde put to refugees evokes. In Circulating Queerness, Natasha Hurley makes the case that the “book worlds” of novels – their circulation in particular – reveal “the accretion of queer life, broken down into often contradictory pieces, with only provisional coherence.” Hurley’s account foregrounds not just the representation of queer life within a story, but how “literature participates in the generation of sexual types.” The force of literary representation figures sexuality itself, so that the interactive circulation of texts, the methods of their consumption and dissemination, constitute the conditions of possibility by which sexual subjectivity is recognized as more than an abstraction. Both Hurley and Gopinath insist on “performative acts of reading” to discern whether and how texts reinscribe the genre’s historically heteronormative bias or break with it. Gopinath “employ[s] a queer diasporic reading practice” to argue for a “scavenger methodology” that pierces texts with the recognition that queer diasporic subjects often appear only in “fractured or fragmented” traces because they are so consistently erased from dominant historical narratives. Another such mode of reading culture against its dominant strains is what Muñoz names the cleverly ambivalent performance of “disidentification” – conformist gestures of survival/passing that queers of color tactically employ to deflect the trauma of normalization. As these scholars show, the drama of sexuality in culture most often occurs as trope. To the extent that we all live in and through culture, we are immersed in scenes of reading sexuality. The literariness of sexuality is not new as far as queer novels are concerned. The idea that sexual self-fashioning happens through textual and artistic encounters is everywhere present in the queer canon. What is less remarked on is how ubiquitous diasporic drifts are in queer literary portraits. If we consider the geographic circumventions of queer novels, we can say that they seed sexuality as a borderless – and at times imperialistic – venture. In Well of Loneliness, Stephen Gordon wrestles with her aristocratic masculinity first in contrast to the femininity of Lady Anna, her Celtic mother, and Angela, her Southern American lover, and next as an expat in Paris who secures temporary happiness with the ingénue, Mary. Notably, Stephen and Mary experience “Edenic” bliss only during a sojourn in North Africa. In a rustic villa in Spanish North-Africa, tended by servants and surrounded by lush gardens, under the “glory of the African night,” Stephen and Mary unite in a “sweetness” whose “words must not be spoken.” In Henry James’ “The Beast in the Jungle,” John

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Marcher’s gnawing secret only becomes known to him and his torment abated through his travels to Egypt and India. Only when “in the depths of Asia” and consumed by vulgar “romantic interest,” does he recognize what he has forsaken by repressing the “beast” of sexual passion within himself. In other words, the epiphany that “East was garish cheap and thin” is what enables him to mourn the passing of his years-long queer friendship with May Bartram. This tendency in many queer works to explore sexuality by exploring the world enacts what Glissant calls “invading nomadism.” Even in queer novels invested in examining the racial aspects of sexuality, the horizon of a foreign sky poses limits. In Zami, for instance, Audre Lorde born to Grenadian immigrants finally discovers herself when she travels to Mexico. “I don’t know why I was seized with such a desire to go to Mexico,” she writes. In Mexico, it is her affair with the white transplant Eudora who is part of “the American colony in Cuernavaca,” “a haven for political and spiritual refugees from the North,” that brings Lorde satiety and solace (pp. –). Lorde’s experience of Mexico – her sense of its rich intertwining history, the strands of Asia and Africa that fuse with Mexican culture, is filtered through Eudora’s settler translations of Mexican history, “folkways, and beliefs” (pp. , ). “It was Eudora who showed me the way to the Mexico I had come looking for. That nourishing land of light and color where I was somehow at home,” Lorde confesses in the aftermath of their love-making (p. ). In E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India (), the possibility of intimacy between Dr. Aziz and Mr. Fielding, the English school superintendent, is interrupted by the harsh landscape of the Marabar caves and accusations of rape made by an Englishwoman against Aziz. The novel shatters the possibility of reconciliation for the men’s friendship – through a kiss no less – in an Indian landscape rifted by colonialism. The novel ends with the earth proclaiming in “its hundred voices, ‘No, not yet,’ which the sky echoes with ‘No, not there’.” Perhaps most celebrated is James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room (), in which the sexual misadventure of the all-American protagonist, David, results from his displacement abroad. David’s “flight” from the United States occurs because “the germ of the dilemma” of homosexual desire haunts him. His ill-fated affair with the “dark and leonine” Giovanni in Paris is spurred by his sense of dislocation abroad (p. ). David is perpetually aware that Giovanni “belonged to this strange city, which did not belong to me” (p. ). David’s recognition – that his escape to Europe to indulge in his attraction to men without exposing it is futile – is bound to his nomadic state: “There is something fantastic in the spectacle I now present myself of having run so far, so hard, across the

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ocean even, only to find myself brought up short once more before the bulldog living in my own backyard” (p. ). Baldwin is not shy about casting David as the descendent of “ancestors who conquered a continent,” thus sharply marking the colonialist underpinning of queer sexual tourism (p. ). Anglo-American queer literature incorporates diaspora as a means of sexual discovery so that queerness becomes readable only through contrast with the climate toward sexual freedoms elsewhere. These works signal one way of positioning queerness against diaspora. Emerging from this history is a new subset of literary explorations of sexuality in a global context. The contemporary queer diasporic novel takes translocation as innate to queerness. In addition to Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, Michelle Cliff’s No Telephone to Heaven, Shyam Selvadurai’s Funny Boy, Shani Mootoo’s Cereus Blooms at Night, Saleem Haddad’s Guapa, Akwaeke Emezi’s Freshwater, Helen Oyeyemi’s White is for Witching, Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life, Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other, and Mr. Loverman are all part of a growing collection of literary works that insist on the transnationality of queerness. Part of the story these works tell is about how queerness blossoms in concert with other places outside the global North and participates in uneven exchanges of capital and circuits of a border-crossing and traveling sexuality. In these works, queer is borne across so that it is more than fleshly same-sex erotics; the queer in and as diaspora is translated beyond genital sexuality toward the eccentricity of love itself as it reaches across borders and barriers. No Telephone () sets the stage with the story of the bi-racial Clare Savage who wanders from Jamaica to the United States and Europe in search for her identity. However, it is Clare’s friendship with the transgendered Harry/Harriet who is “not just sun, but sun and moon” in a Jamaica riven by class exploitation and poverty that catalyzes their involvement in a queer revolution to decolonize the island. Funny Boy () shows queerness flourishing outside the West. Selvadurai’s is a coming-of-age story about Arjie, a Tamil boy whose love for wearing saris and his Sinhala classmate Shehan unravels against the ravages of the inter-ethnic riots in Sri Lanka. The novel, narrated in retrospect after Arjie and his family flee to Canada, recasts Sri Lanka as the cradle of queer love. Likewise, Cereus imagines a queer planet, giving life to queer love and nonoppressive gender expression in colonial places in the sun. In Cereus, the story of Mala Ramchandin’s rape and seclusion on the fictional Caribbean island of Lantanacamara comes to light only by way of the care she receives from the cross-gendered Tyler. The descendent of indentured laborers, Mala’s voice – including the story of her mother’s love affair with an English girl – fuses with that of her gay Afro-Caribbean nurse, Tyler, who in turn is aided in his care

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for Mala by his love interest Otoh, a girl who has magically morphed into a boy. In short, queerness in Cereus is saturated with the intertwined histories of transformation and transoceanic colonial contact. Of course, not all queer diasporic novels are emancipatory. Some, such as Saleem Haddad’s Guapa, Akwaeke Emezi’s Freshwater, and Helen Oyeyemi’s White is for Witching are skeptical of the consequences of collapsing queerness with a singularly liberatory idea of diaspora. Guapa tells the story of an eponymous underground bar, a “pocket of hope” in Lebanon, or similar Arab city, where a group of friends flaunt their sexuality. Go-go boys belly dancing in glittery niqabs. The story depicts the vagaries of societally dispersed homophobic persecution – Rasa’s affair with Taymour is shamed by his forbidding grandmother and he flees to New York, while Maj, his flamboyant friend in drag, disappears. Haddad recuperates queer affection when in the end Rasa and Maj find each other, one promising to “take care” of the other as they age. But this quiet resolution occurs only after Rasa relinquishes the notion that social activism in New York will free him. Guapa short-circuits the metropolitan West in favor of south–south diasporic connections. Rather than flying westward for sexual autonomy, Rasa returns home. Guapa is a critique of the Arab Spring’s transformation from revolution to crisis as much as it is the indictment of America’s war mongering in the Middle East. It is also about the elasticity of diasporic consciousness, one that belongs in multiple places at once. Freshwater and White is for Witching take a view of queerness constituted in and through adverse transport of racial migrants. In both books, which are focused on the predicament of young girls of color, queer desire is shapeshifting and violent in its displacements. Ada in Freshwater is a “trickster” figure, an ogbanje incarnate who arrives as a student in Virginia from Nigeria and immediately molts like a snake. Ada, as trans, inhabits an unbounded body that readily alters form in relation to the inchoate states of her mind. White is for Witching revolves around Miranda, a bloodless soucouyant figure, who preys on refugee immigrants to England, including her college lover, Ore, who is from Nigeria. In both gothic elements of vampirism, altered consciousness, and supernaturality depict the transmateriality of sexuality. Emezi and Oyeymi write queer desire as insistently elastic but perilous. Theirs is a caution against unfettered desire in societies conditioned by homophobia and racism. As this brief account shows, queer diasporic literature is not monotonal. The genre necessitates a muscular version of what Sedgwick calls “queer reading” that is “much more speculative, superstitious, and methodologically adventurous,” with equal seepage of reparative pleasures and paranoid warnings.

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Conclusion In Cruising Utopia Muñoz offers a profound assessment about queerness, writing: “Queerness is not yet here. Queerness is an ideality. Put another way, we are not yet queer. We may never touch queerness, but we can feel it as the warm illumination of a horizon imbued with potentiality.” The gulf between the rigid figure of the queer refugee before the law and literary portraits of diasporic queerness that perceive the relations between desiring bodies and locations as elastic speak to where and how queerness lags. The law demands a particular, narrow iteration of queerness that queer desire itself strains against. The queer as and throughout its diaspora defiantly upends norms of behavior and individuation in favor of the opacity, errancy, and impulsive ventures of desire. The queer diasporic, as the literary portraits of it show, reveal the flow and malleable relationality of identifications, not their petrification. It is this conception of queerness as always restless and disruptive of categorical norms of gender, sex, and nation that Muñoz points to as the “there of queer futurity” yet to come. The  Refugee Convention is the universally recognized legal instrument that guarantees that states honor the human rights of those seeking shelter. By this instrument and its subsequent expansion beyond Europe in , refugees have to demonstrate a “well-founded fear” of persecution on the basis of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a “social group.” Since the landmark case of Toboso-Alfonso (), the Board of Immigration Appeals in the United States has recognized that sexual orientation constitutes a social group and deserves asylum protections. Hernandez-Montiel v. INS () confirmed that trans claimants – “gay men with female sexual identities” – constituted a cognizable social group and asserted moreover that sexual identity and orientation are immutable features of identity that could not be altered. In the European Union, various countries have recognized sexuality as a social group deserving of protections since the early s. Yet these recognitions have most often reified queerness. The law requires queer claimants to provide sure and credible documentary and behavioral evidence of sexual orientation. These measures have produced incommensurate and paradoxical burdens on applicants who are asked to document that they were part of a persecuted queer community and, on the other, denied on the basis that they should have been more careful or discreet in their behavior in order to avoid intimidation in the first place. Nonnormative sexual expression is subject to strict but confusing diagnostics so that credibility or its inverse, disbelief, become the fulcrum of how the law recognizes or refuses queerness. As Connor Cory observes, “if an asylum

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

 

seeker does not speak the ‘right way,’ dress properly or articulate their identity in a palatable way, they are exposed to the risk of adverse credibility determination.” Those who cannot pass the Wilde test, and other suspect benchmarks including until recently “sexual arousal tests” derived from sexological aversion therapies or provide lurid confessions or pornographic video evidence or endure harsh interrogations, risk being un-queered in addition to being denied admission. In addition to the power this bestows on individual judges, the whole legal apparatus is geared toward normalizing queerness before the law. The pernicious effect of such a normalizing appraisal is to conscript errancies innate to diasporic queerness by amplifying the myth that queerness is more free under liberal legal regimes of the north. The legal tendency of queer asylum law is to reinforce Western exceptionalism by insisting that homophobia proliferates outside its zones. The fact that an overwhelming majority of queer asylum applications are denied reveals the hollow duplicity of the discourse of protection of the persecuted the law embraces. Literature, art, and theories of the queer diaspora aspire to reflect the vicissitudes of love as a global social experience. In Methodology of the Oppressed, Chela Sandoval has written of the impetus of “love as a hermeneutic of social change,” one that has both a theoretical bearing, a political analytic, and an aesthetic charge. It is this revolutionary idea of queerness in scattered ways of loving and living that queer diasporas reveal. Representing queerness through diasporas also impels vigilance about the fact that, although queerness may be diasporic, neither the conventions of the novel nor the law, nor (homo)nationals nor diasporic communities are inherently ideally queer. Queerness is that “potentiality” that refuses sedimented desire and flourishes in relations that are gestural, expansive, adrift, and decolonizing. This trembling radiance of desire unbound – with its “right to opacity” – is what the literariness of the queer diaspora helps us approach.

Notes  Amanda Gray and Alexandra McDowall, “LGBT Refugee Protection in the UK: From Discretion to Belief?” Forced Migration Review,  (): –.  Claire Bennett, “What Does an Asylum Seeker Have to Do to Prove Their Sexuality?” The Conversation, March , , available at: https:// theconversation.com/what-does-an-asylum-seeker-have-to-do-to-prove-theirsexuality- (last accessed August , ).  Claire Bennett and Felicity Thomas, “Seeking Asylum in the UK: Lesbian Perspectives.” Forced Migration Review,  (): .

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

 Ibid., .  See Jasbir Puar, Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times (Durham: Duke University Press, ).  Oscar Wilde, De Profundis (; Project Gutenberg, ), available at: www .gutenberg.org/files//-h/-h.htm (last accessed August , ).  Kamila Shamsie, “Oscar Wilde: A Refugee of His Time.” The New York Times, November , , available at: www.nytimes.com////opinion/ oscar-wilde-a-refugee-of-his-time.html (last accessed August , ).  Wilde, De Profundis.  Robert Booth, “Judge Rejected Asylum Seeker Who Did Not Have Gay Demeanor.” The Guardian, August , , available at: www.theguardian .com/uk-news//aug//judge-rejected-asylum-seeker-who-did-not-havegay-demeanour (last accessed August , ).  The example of Aderonke Apata, an LGBT advocate from Nigeria whose asylum case in the United Kingdom was initially denied on the grounds of her having had children stands out. Apata was eventually granted leave to stay in  after liberal gay rights personages such as Peter Tatchell took up her cause.  Wilde, De Profundis.  José Esteban Muñoz, Cruising Utopia: The Then and Now of Queer Futurity (New York: New York University Press, ), .  Leo Bersani, “Is There a Gay Art?” In Is the Rectum a Grave and Other Essays (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, ), , .  Michel Foucault, History of Sexuality: Vol. , trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Pantheon Books, ), .  Ibid., .  Ibid., .  Ibid., .  See Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s essay “Can the Subaltern Speak?” In Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, ed. Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg (London: Macmillan, ): –. My essay discusses subalternity, queerness and heteronormative reproduction, in Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Spivak Moving, ed. Mrinalini Chakravorty, Surya Parekh, Joe Parker, and Herman Rapaport (Kolkata: Seagull Books, forthcoming ).  David Halperin, “Is There a History of Sexuality?” History and Theory, , no.  (): .  Ibid., –.  Maurice Godelier, “The Origins of Male Domination.” New Left Review,  (): .  Gray and McDowall, “LGBT Refugee Protection in the UK,” . See Johannes Lukas Gartner, “(In)credibly Queer: Sexuality Based Asylum in the EU.” Humanity in Action, Feb. , available at: www.humanityinaction.org/knowl edge_detail/incredibly-queer-sexuality-based-asylum-in-the-european-union/ (last accessed August , ), for statistics on how few queer refugees win protections annually and the poor reporting of data by western states.

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 Caren Kaplan and Inderpal Grewal, “Global Identities.” GLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies, , no.  (): .  Ibid., .  David Murray, “Real Queer: ‘Authentic’ LGBT Refugee Claimants and Homonationalism in the Canadian Refugee System.” Anthropologica, , no.  (): .  Volker Tu¨rk, “Ensuring Protection for LGBTI Persons of Concern.” Forced Migration Review,  (): –.  Judith Butler, Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex (New York: Routledge, ), .  Ibid., x, xi.  Ibid., xi–xii.  Cf the discussion of pink-washing and militancy in Puar, Terrorist Assemblages.  See Roderick A. Ferguson’s Aberrations in Black: Toward a Queer of Color Critique (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, ). See, also, Jafari S. Allen, “Introduction: Black/Queer/Diaspora at the Current Conjuncture.” GLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies, , no. – (): – for an overview of the important intellectual and political investments of the raced fringes of queer studies.  Allen, “Introduction: Black/Queer/Diaspora,” .  Benigno Sanchez-Eppler and Cindy Patton, “Introduction: With a Passport Out of Eden.” In Queer Diasporas, ed. Benigno Sanchez-Eppler and Cindy Patton (Durham: Duke University Press, ), .  Ibid., .  Ibid., .  David L. Eng and Jasbir K. Puar, “Left of Queer.” Social Text, , no.  (): .  Martin F. Manalansan IV, “In the Shadows of Stonewall: Examining Gay Transnational Politics and the Diasporic Dilemma.” GLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies, , no.  (): .  Ibid., .  Ibid., .  Chandan Reddy, Freedom with Violence: Race, Sexuality, and the US State (Durham: Duke University Press, ), .  Ibid., –.  Starting with José Esteban Muñoz’s Disidentifications (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, ), queer diaspora scholars point to other genealogies and methods of thought such as the work of women of color feminists Cherríe Moraga, Gloria Anzaldúa, Audre Lorde, Barbara Smith, the Combahee River Collective, and subsequently of Chela Sandoval, Lisa Lowe, Chandra Mohanty, and others to clear space for a more expansive cultural spectrum of queerness. David Eng’s Racial Castration: Managing Masculinity in Asian America (Durham: Duke University Press, ), Martin Manalansan’s Global Divas: Filipino Gay Men in the Diaspora (Durham:

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          

         



Duke University Press, ), Juana María Rodríguez’s Queer Latinidad: Identity Practices, Discursive Spaces (New York: New York University Press, ), Gayatri Gopinath’s Impossible Desires: Queer Diasporas and South Asian Public Cultures (Durham: Duke University Press, ), and Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes’s Queer Ricans: Cultures and Sexualities in the Diaspora (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, ) have all formidably challenged the idea of a monolithic and free gay culture that emanates exclusively from Europe or America to encapsulate the rest of the globe. Gayatri Gopinath, Unruly Visions: The Aesthetic Practices of Queer Diaspora (Durham: Duke University Press, ), . Stuart Hall, “Cultural Identity and Diaspora.” In Theorizing Diaspora, ed. Jana Evans Braziel and Anita Mannur (Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell, ), . James Clifford, “Diasporas.” Cultural Anthropology, , no.  (): –. Ibid., . Ibid., . Hall, “Cultural Identity and Diaspora,” . Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (New York: Penguin, ), . All subsequent citations appear in parentheses. Édouard Glissant, Poetics of Relation, trans. Betsy Wing (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, ), . Ibid., . Ibid., . Sedgwick shows how the circuitously slanted significations of “homosocial desire” between men, and then the effect of the closet as a homoerotic metaphor are noticeable in major literary works by English and American authors. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire (New York: Columbia University Press, ) and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Epistemology of the Closet (Berkeley: University of California Press, ). Christopher Looby, “The Literariness of Sexuality: Or, How to Do the (Literary) History of (American) Sexuality.” American Literary History, , no.  (): –. Ibid., . Ibid., . Ibid., . Natasha Hurley, Circulating Queerness: Before the Gay and Lesbian Novel (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, ), . Ibid., . Gayatri Gopinath, Impossible Desires: Queer Diasporas and South Asian Public Culture (Durham: Duke University Press, ), , . Ibid., –, see also –. José Esteban Muñoz, Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, ). Radclyffe Hall, The Well of Loneliness (New York: Anchor Books, ), .

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 Ibid., .  Glissant, Poetics, .  Audre Lorde, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name (Berkeley: Crossing Press, ), .  E. M. Forster, A Passage to India (New York: Harcourt, ).  James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room (New York: Vintage. ), . All subsequent citations appear in parentheses.  “The word ‘queer’ itself means across – it comes from the Indo-European root – twerked, which also yields the German quer (transverse), Latin torquere (to twist), English athwart.” Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Tendencies (Durham: Duke University Press, ), xii.  Michelle Cliff, No Telephone to Heaven (New York: Plume, ), .  Shyam Selvadurai, Funny Boy (New York: William Morrow, ).  Shani Mooto, Cereus Blooms at Night (New York: Grove Press, ).  Saleem Haddad, Guapa (New York: Other Press, ), .  Ibid., .  Akwaeke Emezi, Freshwater (New York: Grove Press, ), .  Helen Oyeyemi, White Is for Witching (New York: Riverhead Books, ).  Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, “Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading.” In Novel Gazing: Queer Readings in Fiction, ed. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (Durham: Duke University Press, ), .  José Esteban Muñoz, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity (New York: New York University Press, ), .   Convention and  Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, UNHCR, available at: www.unhcr.org/en-us/bcaa (last accessed August , ).  Matter of Toboso-Alfonso () involved the case of Fidel Toboso-Alfonso, a gay man who fled Cuba and sought protection in the United States. The case was designated as a precedent for queer refugees in  by Janet Reno. Pitcherskaia v. INS () established that treating homosexuality as an affliction to be cured counted as persecution and extended protections to Lesbians as a social group. Hernandez-Montiel () established that transsexuals were a protected social group, a point further affirmed in Reyes-Reyes v. Ashcroft (), although the court refrained from naming “transgender,” using “gay men with female sexual identities” to name the group. These cases emphasized a behavioral basis for adjudicating claims of queer persecution. See Queer Migrations Sexuality, U.S. Citizenship, and Border Crossings, ed. Eithne Luibhéid and Lionel Cantú Jr. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, ), and Connor Cory, “The LGBT Asylum Seeker: Particular Social Groups and Authentic Queer Identities.” The Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law, , no.  (): –.  The United Kingdom finally abolished discretionary reasoning for queer deportations in , a few years after the United States, followed by Finland, Sweden, and Germany.  Cory, “LGBT Asylum Seeker,” .

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

 Johannes Lukas Gartner, “(In)credibly Queer: Sexuality Based Asylum in the EU.” Humanity in Action, February , available at: www.humanityinaction .org/knowledge_detail/incredibly-queer-sexuality-based-asylum-in-the-euro pean-union/ (last accessed August , ).  As Cory notes, “Applicants and petitioners [in the US asylum system] alike are pushed to create a narrative that least disrupts the predominantly white, western, cis-heterosexual norms of good behavior that prevail in the U.S.” (p. ).  Chela Sandoval, Methodology of the Oppressed (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, ), .  See Glissant, Poetics, , – for his views on opacity as a “theory of difference” (p. ).

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 

Strangers and Brothers James Baldwin’s Encounters with Africa Laila Amine

On the night of November , , twenty-four-year-old James Baldwin traveled to Paris using some of his Julius Rosenwald writing award money to pay for a flight he could not have otherwise afforded. The remaining portion of the money he had given his mother, with whom he raised his six youngest siblings. That evening, assailed by guilt, this unlikely traveler walked away from a consternated family, a succession of odd jobs, and the rage-inducing color line that stunted his writing ambition. Determined never to come back, he became a “humiliated free-loader.” For the next six years, he strung together far between opportunities to write for American magazines about a city already overwritten. He would borrow money, bum a meal from acquaintances, find cheaper food and accommodation in Algerian neighborhoods, and, when desperate, write home for a money order or accept the company of older men. Though he could not tell when he would get his next meal, Baldwin nonetheless would later reflect that he was a privileged traveler in post-war France: My life was to some extent protected by the fact that I carried a green passport. This passport proclaimed that I was a free citizen of a free country, and was not, therefore, to be treated as one of Europe’s uncivilized, black possessions. This same passport, on the other side of the ocean, underwent a sea change and proclaimed that I was . . . a domestic nigger and that no foreign government would be offended if my corpse were to be found clogging up the sewers.

As Baldwin uncovers, race is a modality of placement that travel can somewhat alter, conferring him a new status. Much of the scholarship on his French exile focuses on his articulations of identity as molded by the dynamics between homeland and adopted home, skirting the more vexatious relationship with “Europe’s uncivilized, black possessions.” This is also the route taken in Paul Gilroy’s classic for African diaspora studies, The Black Atlantic. Travel provides rebirth or self-expansion, 

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whereby figures who “begin as African American . . . are then changed into something else.” Europe is the main setting for this rebirth and the alleged transcendence of ethnicity and nationality; however, its African colonies and their people relocated to the metropole do not figure. Yet, in Baldwin’s case, essays penned between  and  about his encounters with North Africans and West Africans in Paris mediate the fashioning of his American and Western identity. This presence in Europe corroborates David Levering Lewis’s view that, when African American writers ask “What is Africa to me?,” they are also asking “What is America to me?” The answer to this question is less singular than imagined, particularly at the height of the Cold War. In , the year before Baldwin arrives in Paris, Algerian colonial migrants gained visibility in metropolitan France thanks to a new law that enabled them to travel there without a passport. Filling the postwar labor shortage, these men, often unskilled workers, formed an impoverished minority not entirely restricted to the capital’s ethnic enclaves. Baldwin rubbed shoulders with this bachelor community; and, despite one biographer’s view that the author was not interested in the African continent, he produced a significant number of writings increasingly critical about his adopted country’s own color line. A sympathetic treatment of les misérables or France’s “niggers,” as he would call them, appears as early as the  collection of essays Notes of a Native Son, his  short story “This Morning, This Evening so Soon,” and the collections of essays Nobody Knows My Name and No Name in the Street, respectively published in  and . Congenial Algerian characters also appear in his unpublished works, like his notes for a novel titled No Papers for Mohamet and the completed play The Welcome Table. In this fictional and nonfictional work, North Africans represent a racialized underclass. In “Equal in Paris,” they figure as the only prisoners for whom Baldwin does not give a name or assign a crime, as if their presence in jail required no explanation. In other essays, they appear as part of the urban landscape: taxi drivers, rug sellers, money changers, and peanut vendors. Even in “This Morning, This Evening, So Soon,” Boona, a penniless former prize-fighter and acquaintance of an African American gospel singer, is rather unidimensional. Forced to steal to survive, Boona offers the naive African American middle-class tourists a lesson that not all theft is immoral. In Baldwin’s oeuvre, North Africans serve to debunk the myth of French colorblindness. What he cannot fail to recognize is a familiar grammar of race with segregation to the poorest areas of the city and peripheral slums, police surveillance and aggression, as well as the public opinion that condemns North Africans as sexual predators, criminals, and other attributes of the “uncivilized.”

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If in looking at Algerians, Baldwin sees reflections of himself, of Harlem, and of racial stigma experienced at home, somehow when his eyes fix on sub-Saharan Africans, likewise French colonial subjects relocated to the metropole, virtually none of this identification emerges. In , he remarked that “An American Negro . . . ceases to be simply a black man when he faces a black man from Africa.” Their presence in his  essay “Encounters in the Seine: Black Meet Brown” teaches him that he cannot claim African ancestry “over a gulf of three hundred years – an alienation too vast to be conquered in an evening’s good-will,” for he is a brown “hybrid,” with Black and white ancestry whose history and past is tied to the American nation. In “Stranger in the Village” () and “Princes and Powers” (), the African also serves as a foil to fashion a Black American and Western identity. He would concede a shared relation to a white violent world, but Black Africa struggling for its independence is principally imagined as the “jungle or the tribe.” Also painted with a thick brush, Baldwin’s Black Africans are seldom distinguished by name, nationality, or gender in his essays. In a  conversation with Harold Isaacs, Baldwin reflects on his antipathy: all discussions were on politics. You could never get into anything else. They disgusted me, I think. They thought I had money, but I didn’t. Maybe I was insufficiently intransigent against America. I couldn’t really hate America the way they did. They hated America, were full of racial stories, held their attitudes largely on racial grounds. Politically, they knew very little about it. Whenever I was with an African, we would both be uneasy.

In his European essays, Baldwin deploys this “other” to express aversion, or the fashioning of a collective self as modern – intellectually sophisticated, individualistic, American, and Western. At the same time, this “other” also conveys inner fears that the African’s dislike of him may be justified. Between the lines of this Africanist discourse are Baldwin’s yearnings for a sense of wholeness: what he perceived as Africans’ social cohesion, their cultural roots, their sense of security in inhabiting their bodies, and their common purpose to liberate their country. Scholars of the diaspora have tended to steer clear of Baldwin’s caricatured West Africans or have brushed them off as the result of “cultural and linguistic obstacles,” or national and cultural divides, even as the same differences inform his compassionate portrayals of Algerians. Other theories attribute the devaluation of the Black African to its function as “merely a foil from his main theme: the encounter between the white and the Black

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American,” to Baldwin’s “slow process of tearing himself away from Western moorings,” or “the insensitivity of a young writer determined to shock” but who is not “anti-black.” With few exceptions, critics use the fact that Black Africans appear only as a “foil” to move past this relationship altogether. Baldwin’s Africanist discourse illuminates a remarkable dissonance. In the American context, he writes that white American identity is intimately constituted in relation to an “other” and calls for an alternative to “create [oneself] without finding it necessary to create an enemy.” But in some of his early European essays, he shrewdly plays on the idea of new travel contact, reproducing the vantage points of whiteness and the stereotypes of blackness as prehistoric and from which he as a westerner feels exempted. Paul Gilroy rightly points out “the folly of assigning uncoerced or recreational travel experiences only to whites while viewing black people’s experiences of displacement and relocation exclusively through the very different types of travelling undergone by refugees, migrants, and slaves.” Since the writing by Black Atlantic intellectuals relies on the genre of travel writing, a form steeped in Anglo-European imperialist conventions of encounters in Africa, critic Angela Shaw-Thornburg asks how we shall approach these travel texts: Are we to read them in the same way we read, say, the travel narratives of Mary Louise Pratt’s [Western] narrators whose gazing on others and other landscapes undergird imperialist and neo-colonialist projects of the West? Or are we to read them differently, as something more akin to postcolonialist texts produced by the colonized in order to critique the project of colonialism?

In this essay, I respond to Shaw-Thornburg’s apt inquiry through a study of some of Baldwin’s European essays penned between  and  and which bracket the decolonization era and the Cold War liberalism. As the differing treatment of West Africans and North Africans shows, despite its structuring force, travel writing does not have an intrinsic nature and is best understood by an examination of its use in a given context. Typical of many stories of encounters, Baldwin’s travel texts claim for the narrator a greater degree of knowledge and sophistication in relation to the people he comes across. The traveling narrator demarcates the domestic from the foreign, revealing some shared condescension over provincial Swiss villagers or so-called primitive West African students and intellectuals in France. He projects cosmopolitanism by deploring coarse American tourists attracted by the legend of Paris, “its most vulgar and superficial level,” or

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fellow countrymen disinclined to reassess their world based on meeting people “whose sense of reality is entirely different from [their] own.” As Quentin Miller points out, Baldwin “makes pronouncements about the expatriate in Paris without implicating himself directly.” In contrast, in his portrayals of North Africans, boundaries between the West and the non-West concern forms of power that also implicate the privileged traveler. France is no longer a blank slate that offers what he termed a “silence” and “vacuum” in which he could hear and write about home. The foreign landscape ceases to be only a useful ground for the traveler’s self-discovery, or a mysterious world the detached observer strives to render for readers at home. Baldwin, to use his own words, has “entered the picture.” Whether the traveler is in the picture or ironizes on the myth of the civilized city of light, he deploys an antitravel rhetoric that renders the foreigner abroad accountable for the society in which he lives. Travel provides a set of reading cues through which Baldwin introduces his estranged relationship to his long-lost West African kin and his brotherly affinities with a North African community. On the one hand, his essays present a negotiation of competing gazes: the see-all eyes that white Westerners trained on African natives and their diasporic descendants rendering them objects to be labeled, categorized, and controlled, and the autonomous Black American narrator’s sight that revisualizes the world he inhabits and the experiences of Black people therein. On the other hand, the essays’ narrator is produced by the performance of his gaze: his “seeing race is not a transparent act; it is itself a doing.” I suggest here that this writing is, in part, commissioned acts of looking sponsored by American magazines, heavily edited or rejected when they failed to uphold the magazine’s vision or they risked alienating their sponsors. The main magazine outlets seldom included Black authors in the early s. What Richard Wright wrote as an exile in Paris was not getting published. Less disaffected by the war and the radical thirties, Baldwin noted he “was, in some way, in those years, without entirely realizing it, the Great Black Hope of the Great White Father.” New York editors at The New Leader, The Nation, Commentary, and Partisan Review who turned away from the communist international revolution in the early s were attracted to both Baldwin’s “grace of mind” and “his apparent political innocence.” In the cold war liberal era, writing for a white audience, Baldwin’s optimistic view of America as a free nation that can bridge its racial divide likewise delighted his friend Sol Stein who in his

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role as general editor of Beacon’s Contemporary Affairs Series proposed that Baldwin collect his essays into a book: Notes of a Native Son. Accompanying notes in these magazines identified the author as “the most promising young Negro writer since Richard Wright.” The opportunity to speak and the glowing reception of Notes is not incidental. The national political climate that saw the censorship and immobilization of some intellectuals (notably Wright, Paul Robeson, W. E. B. Du Bois) facilitated the fast rise of Baldwin and informed his framing of race in an international context.

“Stranger in the Village” Though he would come to describe himself as “[a] transatlantic commuter, carrying [his] typewriter everywhere, from Alabama to Sierra Leone to Finland,” the bulk of Baldwin’s travels were between France and the United States. Exceptions included a three-month stay in the secluded village of Loèches-les-bains in the Swiss Alps to complete Go Tell it on the Mountain in . With an official invitation of the Israeli government, he relished his visit to holy sites in  even as his sightseeing was interspersed with scenes of strife between Arabs and Jews. Both trips are rare moments when his travels resulted in personal essays like “Stranger in the Village” and “Letters from a Journey” (both appeared in Harper’s). In contrast, there is no personal essay that chronicles Baldwin’s Turkish decade with its many visits to Istanbul. Even when The New Yorker sponsored his  visit to Africa with stops in Senegal, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, the author did not produce the commissioned series of essays or book for Dial Press. Like in his travel through the American South on assignment for Harper’s and Partisan Review, he disliked the role of reporter. Scholars interested in Baldwin’s relationship to Africans will have to turn to his European essays, since such reflections emerge chiefly in his quotidian surroundings. In his essays written in and about Europe, Baldwin repeatedly returns to African Americans’ original dislocation from Africa. In “Stranger in the Village” published in , he explains that the African past is lost. His identity is born out of this absolute estrangement. If some Haitians can trace their history back to some African kings as he has been told, the “American Negro wishing to go back so far will find his journey through time abruptly arrested by the signature on the bill of sale which served as the entrance paper for his ancestor.” In the preface of Notes of a Native

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Son, he extends this reflection about a West “onto which [he has] been so strangely grafted” (“Stranger,” p. ). He is an “interloper” in the West and its cultural heritage does not reflect his image. “At the same time,” he notes “I had no other heritage which I could possibly hope to use – I had certainly been unfitted for the jungle or the tribe. I would have to appropriate these white centuries, I would have to make them mine.” In claiming membership to the West, the author performs an identity shaped by disaffiliation with Africa, a foil reduced to images of the jungle or the tribe, prevalent in Western travel writing, and against which he strategically locates himself. His stay in the Swiss village is a clever story of misrecognition whereby the Black New Yorker surprised by the white villagers’ rudimentary standard of living is the one read as primitive. Playing on the travel genre, Baldwin introduces his readers to one of earth’s most “remote” and “primitive” places, a European village so apart that its residents had never laid eyes on a Black person. The urbanite’s gaze scans this locale searching for modern amenities: “no movie house, no bank, no library, no theater; very few radios, one jeep, one station wagon; and at the moment, one typewriter, mine, an invention which the woman next door to me had never seen” (“Stranger,” p. ). Surrounded by “forbidding mountains towering on all four sides” with snow as far as the eye can see, he discerns in the midst of this “white wilderness,” men chopping wood in the forest and transporting it back on sledges, while boys haul water and milk in buckets (p. ). To his astonishment, the locals who seem to live in a past century perceive him as not only “the stranger in the village,” but a stranger to Western modernity. No one believes he is from America. What unfolds is a lesson in looking as he becomes the object of racialized projections. The wife of the bistro owner wants him to know that the villagers donate money for the missionaries in Africa. Children stop their games to stare at the “living wonder” and shout “Neger! Neger!” as he walks the street. Some venture to touch his skin to see if his blackness rubs off (pp. , ). With each projection, the essay registers race as a medium that says more about the villagers’ isolation and rigid steepness in European colonial ways of seeing blackness than the man on which their gaze fall. At the same time, the narrator insists that the villagers’ beliefs and behaviors are benevolent, even innocent, a culturally conditioned ignorance certainly not founded on “intentional unkindness” (“Stranger,” p. ). Though unfamiliar with the region, its people, or history, he authoritatively dismisses any notion of racist hostility in the villagers’ attitudes. This insistence that blackness must be read entirely differently

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in Europe receives little substantiation. Even if Baldwin warns us against the abstraction of Black people, the “African” referent in the Swiss village is a “fetish“ removed from the social and material relations which informs its (imagined) presence. A fetish not just for the villagers, but also in the narrator’s presentation of a European continent devoid of Black people. Through an exposé of competing gazes, “Stranger in the Village” concludes that Americans, given their – rather vaguely defined – shared history with African Americans, cannot claim the same state of innocence in which the Swiss villagers find themselves. In the end, Baldwin’s story of misrecognition, as such stories often do, maintains boundaries between the West and the non-West. It corrects a misperception about the placement of blackness exclusively in Africa. In primitivizing whiteness, the essay plays on the tropes of the primitive and the civilized, which in Gilroy’s view deracializes claims to modernity. But to what end? Gilroy assumes that Black Atlantic expressive culture is transfigurative. Primitivizing whiteness, however, can also work to erase the traveler’s blackness, constructing a subjectivity as primarily “Western, modern, cosmopolitan, and . . . male,” as Robert Reid-Pharr shows in his examination of Richard Wright’s Pagan Spain. In his case, Wright is oblivious to his arrogated role as the see-all authoritative power who labels and records the lives of the primitive Spaniards. Likewise “Stranger in the Village” triangulates between the spaces and histories of America, Europe, and Africa, granting an exemption to the Black American subject in relation to modernity.

“Princes and Powers” On September , , Baldwin was in the same room with Senegalese poet Léopold Sedar Senghor, Martinique authors Aimé Césaire and Frantz Fanon, Barbadian novelist George Lamming, and his countryman Richard Wright, to name but a few of the renowned sixty-three delegates from twenty-four countries who were invited to this historical conference of Negro-African Writers and Artists. All were men but one, and the majority hailed from Francophone Africa and the Caribbean. The international event held at the Sorbonne University was organized by Alioune Diop, Senegalese writer, founder, and editor of the quarterly literary magazine Présence Africaine, and presided over by Dr. Jean Price-Mars, a celebrated Haitian ethnologist. The journal – led by Diop, Senghor, and Césaire, and which Wright helped advise – had for its mission “to define the African’s creativity.” An internal document from the American Embassy in Paris

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to the State Department expressed concerns for the “leftist tendencies” of Présence Africaine and hoped they would “be neutralized” and, to this end, African American participants in the congress were carefully selected. W. E. B. Du Bois was denied a passport and could not participate in what Diop dubbed a “second Bandung.” The gathering was Baldwin’s first encounter with an African-centered intellectual movement in Paris and with the idea of Négritude, a philosophy of Black self-affirmation developed in a context of revolt against French colonialism. Baldwin was there on an assignment to report on the conference for the Magazine Encounter, or the CIA, as he later scoffingly remarked (“No Name,” p. ). Encounter was the main journal of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, an organization with the principal purpose to promote the West’s ideological Cold War struggle against international communism. According to historian Penny Von Eschen, by the time Baldwin enters the Descartes amphitheater at the Sorbonne, “being American meant agreeing with the government on foreign policy. In the atmosphere of the Cold War, any international identification became a liability.” As a result, African American leaders, journalists, and intellectuals such as, Walter White, Rayford Logan, and Philip Randolph stressed their singularity as Americans in diaspora politics. Baldwin puts the distinction as follows in his report: “we have been born in a society, which in a way quite inconceivable for Africans, and no longer real for Europeans, was open, and in a sense which has nothing to do with injustice or justice, was free” (“Princes,” p. ). The young author’s defense of America as “open” and “free” regardless of injustice is evidence for Von Eschen of the hegemony of Cold War liberalism. In the mid-s, the African American press had replaced the language of political conflict in Africa with the language of modernization, that of capitalist exploitation with race psychologizing, and the politics of independence with underdevelopment. Read in his context, the author’s report is not the work of a young rebellious spirit meant to shock, as one critic asserts, but is rather the unremarkable echo of a dominant discourse that routinely exoticizes the African continent. Titled “Princes and Powers,” the essay is structured around the reporter’s implicit visit from “the intellectual capital of the Western world” where “everyone and everything wore a cheerful aspect” to a foreign and disturbing place. What jars with the rose-colored harmonious Parisian landscape occurs out of sight in one of the Amphitheaters of the Sorbonne university which, like the Swiss village, might as well be on

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another continent. In a matter of a few footsteps, the young reporter is crowded by a “mob” of attendees, mainly Africans who “choked” entrances in an “unbearably hot” and “hectic” lecture hall (“Princes,” pp. , ). To this American’s dismay, they frequently interrupt presentations with “roar[s] of applause” or such hostility that a presenter had to abandon the floor (p. ). The absence of restraint and Baldwin’s related uneasiness fashions the attendees as foreign and the author as Western. What is striking in the reporter’s authoritative gaze is how it reverses his own outsider’s position as an American in a mainly Francophone environment where he depends on translation to interpret the content of the presentations on complex cultures and geopolitical contexts about which he knows little. Yet non-American Black participants appear as a homogeneous collective, completely definable and knowable. “Princes and Powers” performs an exoticizing gaze as it marshals an encounter between the West and Africa. Its Africanist rhetoric is an echo of the opening line of the French daily newspaper Le Figaro’s notice on the conference: “A drum is lying about on a table in the hall of the Sorbonne.” Baldwin’s writing consists of photographic snapshots. Here, a presenter entirely covered in “a white lace poncho” superimposed to a “silk robe” and “red velvet toque” recites poetry to the accompaniment of a “marvelously ornate drum” (“Princes,” p. ). There, a section of the audience stomps their feet in approval of a speaker’s statement. Together, the drum, the costume, the interrupting stomps all work to signal objects, people, and behaviors out of place in “the intellectual capital of the Western world” (“Princes,” p. ). The report’s fixation on the visual is not explicitly tied to the content of the presentations or the author’s commentary on them. The images paint both a record of an event and provide a visual field in which African identities are overdetermined. For example, Baldwin invokes “bestiality” in his description of Aimé Césaire who, we are told, has “the grace and patience of a jungle cat”: but his insightful commentary zeroes in on Césaire’s silence about his own presence in one of France’s foremost institutions and thus one of the “effects of the colonial experience: its creation, precisely, of men like himself” (“Princes,” pp. , ). If in “Stranger in the Village,” the Swiss natives misrecognize the Black stranger, Baldwin seems guilty of the same “visual misrecognition” and white phantasm in his portrayal of non-American Black attendees at the conference. “Princes and Powers” returns to the gulf between Black Americans and Africans by addressing their different relationship to the West. The

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presenters and attendees are labeled “people whose distrust of the West, however richly justified, also tends to make them dangerously blind and hasty” (“Princes,” p. ). Free of this distrust, Baldwin concludes: “the American Negro is possibly the only man of color who can speak of the west with real authority, whose experience, painful as it is, also proves the vitality of the so transgressed Western ideals” (p. ). The author’s version of African American exceptionalism, commonplace until the World War II, would be declining in the late s and early s as the independence of African nations advocated at this conference materialized. By the time Baldwin visits Senegal in , Senghor would be its president.

“No Name in the Street” When Baldwin returned from America following Richard Wright’s sudden death on November , , he witnessed a French capital transformed by the Algerian war. Patrolling soldiers armed with machine guns could be seen everywhere aggressively requesting identification of anyone who looked Algerian. Reflecting back on a repressive climate that had escalated, with rumors in the American expatriate colony that Algerians were being rounded up in camps and tortured, Baldwin reconsiders the tropes of the civilized and the primitive in his essay “No Name in the Street,” published in the Black Power era: I had never, thank God – and certainly not once I found myself living there – been even remotely romantic about Paris. My journey, or my flight, had not been to Paris, but simply away from America . . . So I was not demoralized by all of this as I would certainly have been if I had ever made the error of considering Paris the most civilized of cities and the French as the least primitive of peoples. (p. )

Distinguishing himself from the average traveler and from his former mentor Richard Wright, who liked to repeat that there is more freedom in one square block of Paris than there is in the entire United States, Baldwin returns colonial tropes of travel back to their senders. He remarks with irony that “one had to be careful how one moved about in the fabulous city of light” (p. ). Baldwin, this time, rejects the association with the “civilized,” noting that, when he claimed kinship with Arabs, the French would give him a generous smile and correct him: “le noir Américain est très évolué, voyons! (The Black American is very culturally advanced!). But the Arabs were not like me, they were not ‘civilized’ like me” (p. ).

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In the same essay, the origin story in Africa no longer summons visual exoticism to express the insurmountable cultural gulf between the author and Africans. The origin story now ties analogous racialized temporalities of American slavery and Western colonization on a political map that aligns African Americans and Algerians: Algeria, after all, is part of Africa, and France, after all, is part of Europe. [ . . . ] The fact that I had never seen the Algerian casbah was of no more relevance . . . than the fact that the Algerians had never seen Harlem. The Algerian and I were both, alike, victims of this history, and I was still a part of Africa, even though I had been carried out of it nearly four hundred years before . . . The question of my identity had never before been so crucially allied with the reality – the doom – of the moral choice . . . the irreducible inconvenience of the moral choice . . . their battle was not theirs alone but was my battle also, and it began to be a matter of my honor not to attempt to avoid this loaded fact. (“No Name,” p. )

Strikingly, Baldwin rejects the role of detached observing traveler and adopts instead that of the implicated subject. The shared painful relation to a violent white world which was once insufficient to unite diverse people of African descent the world over in “Princes and Powers” now structures a shared sensibility or way of seeing (“Princes,” p. ). The question of moral implication reappears in “Alas, Poor Richard,” his ungenerous tribute to Wright where he faults the Dean of African American writers abroad, whose every statement appeared in the French press for saying virtually nothing on the subject of his hosts murdering Algerians (“No Name,” p. ). Wright offered him a lesson, he said, about the danger for Black American exiles living as any white man would in America. This honorary whiteness offers the illusion of freedom based on isolation from the world’s violent realities. The author’s critique of his former idol is not framed as simply a personal failure, but as a lesson on “the hazards” of dislocation. After he “dawdled” in Europe, Baldwin could no longer stand sitting on an American passport in Paris discussing the Algerian and Black American question (“No Name,” p. ).

Notes  James Baldwin, “Equal in Paris.” In Collected Essays (New York: The Library of America, ), .  James Baldwin, “No Name in the Street.” In Price of the Ticket: Collected Nonfiction, – (New York: St. Martin, ), , emphasis added. All subsequent citations appear in parentheses.

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 Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, ), .  See Laura Chrisman, “Journeying to Death: Paul Gilroy’s Black Atlantic.” In Postcolonial Contraventions: Cultural Readings of Race, Imperialism, and Transnationalism (Manchester: Manchester University Press, ), –.  James Campbell, Middle Passages: African American Journeys to Africa, – (New York: Penguin Books, ), xxiv.  James Campbell, Talking at the Gates: A Life of James Baldwin (London: Faber, ).  See James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son (Boston: Beacon Press, ); James Baldwin, Nobody Knows My Name: More Notes of a Native Son (New York: Vintage, ); James Baldwin, No Name in the Street (New York: Vintage, ). In an interview reprinted in Conversations with James Baldwin (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, ) and originally published in the Black Scholar in , Baldwin states “I was very poor when I got to Paris. I slept in the streets and under bridges and I slept with the Africans, the Algerians and the underside of Paris. It was very good for me . . . In France, the Algerian is the nigger” (p. ).  Baldwin, Price of the Ticket, .  Baldwin, “Alas, Poor Richard.” In Collected Essays, .  Baldwin, “Encounter on the Seine.” In Collected Essays, .  Baldwin, “Autobiographical Notes.” In Collected Essays, .  Douglas Field, All Those Strangers: The Art and Lives of James Baldwin (New York: Oxford University Press, ), .  Harold Isaacs, The New World of Negro Americans (New York: Viking Press, ), –.  Field, All Those Strangers, , .  Michelle Wright, “‘Alas, Poor Richard!’: Transatlantic Baldwin, the Politics of Forgetting, and the Project of Modernity.” In James Baldwin Now, ed. Dwight A. McBride (New York: New York University Press, ), .  James Miller, “What Does It Mean to Be an American? The Dialectics of SelfDiscovery in Baldwin’s ‘Paris Essays’ (–).” Journal of American Studies, , no.  (): .  Bill Mullen, James Baldwin Living in Fire (London: Pluto Press, ), .  Alice Craven, “Responding to Richard Wright.” In James Baldwin in Context, ed. Quentin Miller (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ), .  James Baldwin, The Cross of Redemption: Uncollected Writings (New York: Pantheon Books, ), .  Gilroy, Black Atlantic, .  Angela Shaw-Thornburg, “Problems of Genre and Genealogy in AfricanAmerican Literature of Travel.” Journeys, , no.  (): .  Baldwin, Collected Essays, . In one of a series of articles published in the Pittsburg Courier on February , , African American expatriate writer William G. Smith laments what he calls the French colonials’ complex of superiority over black Americans. They “bitterly resent being called Negroes”

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Strangers and Brothers

      

 

  

    



for they have a nation, a language of their own, and a unified people that has not lived under slavery (p. ). See William Gardner Smith, “European Colonials Feel Superior to U.S. Negroes.” Pittsburg Courier, February , . Baldwin, “A Question of Identity.” In Collected Essays, ; Baldwin, “The Discovery of What It Means to Be an American.” In Collected Essays, . Quentin Miller, “American Writers in Paris.” In James Baldwin in Context, ed. Quentin Miller (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ), . Alvin Ailey, James Baldwin, Romare Bearden, and Albert Murray, “To Hear Another Language.” Callaloo, , no.  (): . James Baldwin, “An interview with James Baldwin on Henry James.” Henry James Review, , no.  (): . Nicole Fleetwood, Troubling Vision: Performance, Visuality, and Blackness (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, ), . Baldwin, No Name in the Street, . Carol Polsgrove, Divided Minds: Intellectuals and the Civil Rights Movement (New York: W. W. Norton, ), . See also Robert Coles, Black Writers Abroad: A Study of Black American Writers in Europe and Africa (New York: Garland, ). Quoted in Mullen, James Baldwin, . Milton S. Byam labels Baldwin “the most gifted young American with a black skin” and as “looking at the Negro from the point of view neither of attack or defense,” and Dachine Rainer sees the collection as a welcome alternative from the protest literature of Richard Wright and Ann Petry (quoted in William Dow, “Reviewers, Critics, and Cranks.” In James Baldwin in Context, ed. Quentin Miller [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ], ). James Baldwin, “Architectural Digest Visits: James Baldwin.” Architectural Digest (August ), . David Leeming, James Baldwin: A Biography (New York: Knopf, ), . In Baldwin’s  novel Just Above My Head (New York: The Dial Press, ), Julia becomes the mistress of a polygamist African businessman and relocates with him to Abidjan in the Ivory Coast, only to discover that her lover was already married and had several children, two of Julia’s age. As an African American woman, Julia felt like “[a] very strange creature” there and returns home after two years (p. ). Baldwin, “Stranger in the Village.” In Collected Essays, . All subsequent citations appear in parentheses. Baldwin, “Autobiographical Notes,” . Sara Ahmed, Strange Encounters: Embodied Others in Post-Coloniality (New York: Routledge, ), . Robert Reid-Pharr, Archives of Flesh: African America, Spain, and PostHumanist Critique (New York: New York University Press, ), . Sawyer-Lauçanno, Continual Pilgrimage, .

https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108887946.011 Published online by Cambridge University Press



 

 Brenda Plummer, In Search of Power: African Americans in the Era of Decolonization, – (New York: Cambridge University Press, ), .  James Baldwin, “Princes and Powers.” In Collected Essays, . All subsequent citations appear in parentheses.  Frances Saunders, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters (New York: W. W. Norton, ), .  Penny Von Eschen, Race against Empire: Black Americans and Anticolonialism, – (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, ), .  Ibid., .  Ibid., .  Eileen Julien, “Terrains de Rencontre: Césaire, Fanon, and Wright on Culture and Decolonization.” Yale French Studies,  (): .  Shawn Michelle Smith, Photography on the Color Line: W. E. B. Du Bois, Race, and Visual Culture (Durham: Duke University Press, ), .  Baldwin does not address the threat of deportation from France that silenced expatriates like Richard Wright. See Laila Amine, Postcolonial Paris: Fictions of Intimacy in the City of Light (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, ).  Baldwin, “Alas, Poor Richard,” .  Ibid., .

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 

Incommensurability, Inextricability, Entanglement Stuart Hall and the Question of Palestine Keith P. Feldman

[The diasporic] does not provide us with ready-made answers or programmes but sets us new questions, which proliferate across and disturb older frames of thought, social engagements and political practices: a new “problem space” indeed. Stuart Hall

Among the tangle of twentieth-century histories that haunt contemporary debates about diaspora is the knotted aftermath of the Holocaust and the Nakba. Our present is conditioned by the ways one ostensible geopolitical solution – a Jewish national home in Palestine – for one seemingly intractable problem – the pervasiveness of antisemitism in the structure and practice of modern nationalisms, culminating in the catastrophe of intra-European genocide – has engendered another seemingly intractable problem – generations of Palestinians subject to the blunt force and discursive screen of colonial racisms, dispossessed of their land, dispersed from their homes, structurally precluded from expressing anything approaching a modern sense of national self-determination or democratic self-rule. Neither naming the entanglement of the Holocaust and the Nakba nor working through its various resonances is novel, to be sure. In this chapter, I argue that the predicament of inextricability and incommensurability that results from this powerful knot is productively illuminated through historically grounded relational approaches to diaspora. By relational approaches to diaspora, I mean modes of analysis attentive to interwoven local, national, regional, and transnational scales; highly differentiated relations to structures of power; and dynamic and porous interactions with a worldly array of ideas and communities and movements. While the emergence and elaboration of relationality as a salient analytic across the humanities might strike some as recent – registered in new approaches to ethics, or the entanglement of human and nonhuman worlds, or inquiries into affect, or critical treatments of racialization and 

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

 . 

coloniality – the knot of Palestine, Israel, and the diasporic has been approached relationally for some time. In Middle East Studies, for example, a “relational history” proposed by Zachary Lockman challenges the “dual society model” of historical scholarship on the early twentieth century, which had uncritically adopted both “Zionist and Palestinian nationalist historical narratives and categories.” For a more robust analysis, one not constrained by the tenets of methodological nationalism, Lockman urges historians to consider how Arabs and Jews “interacted in complex ways and had a mutually formative effect on one another.” Lockman points to the promise of a possible “relational synthesis” that “will need to interrogate and transcend nationalist narratives on both sides, respecting what is specific to the histories of Arabs and Jews in Palestine even as it explores the ways in which those histories were (and remain) inextricably and fatefully intertwined.” With this prompt in mind, critical histories of Zionism have worked to rectify the shortcomings of quasi-autochthonous national framings, exploring the importance of interactions between Jewish and Arab communities in Palestine, including interactions predicated on colonial settlement, imperial management, and racial and gendered structures of power. Likewise, historians of modern Palestine cannot but render the dense and impactful interactions between Palestinian locals, Zionist state-building projects, and British mandatory rule. In the early s, anthropologists Rebecca Stein and Ted Swedenburg built explicitly on Lockman’s approach in a number of important ways. They argue for a relational lens attuned to forms of interdependence and interaction both beyond and beneath national formations, including those that problematize the Palestinian–Arab/Israeli– Jew dichotomy – itself, after all, a construction that obfuscates the historical realities of Mizrahi Jews and Palestinian citizens of Israel. These intranational and transnational forms of relation cross-cut and divide national formations via various axes of difference, including race, gender, class, and sexuality. They circulate through a world of capitalist globalization structured by militarized checkpoints and walls and borders, delimited by siege and occupation and enmeshed in relations with regional powers, Europe, Latin America, and the United States. In recent years, relational scholarship on Palestine and Israel has flourished in interdisciplinary fields like American Studies, Critical Ethnic Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Settler Colonial Studies, suggesting that entry into and through this knot has grown increasingly important for knowledge projects far beyond the containers of methodological nationalism. Salutary work has situated this knot in networks of

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Stuart Hall and the Question of Palestine



worldly relations that refuse to exceptionalize the binds of colonial settlement and racial genocide, displacement and enclosure, sovereignty and occupation, capitalism and militarism, belonging and refugeehood, capitalist innovation and national security, memory and loss, trauma and redress, representation and narration. To think of these entanglements through the concept of diaspora, as Stein and Swedenburg suggest, foregrounds difference as a necessary dimension of any substantive relational analysis. Indeed, there is no easy shortcut around diaspora’s world of difference. A diasporic lens holds great promise precisely insofar as it elicits qualification, modification, emplacement in the world, in history. To claim as much is right away to enter the diaspora concept through a door swung open by Stuart Hall. Overstatement of the impact of Hall’s writings on diaspora verges on the impossible. Essential to the project of denaturalizing essentialisms, attuned to the vitality of difference woven through language and discourse and representation, embedded in the world-historical displacements and dispossessions of colonial modernity scattered across the Caribbean, in Britain, in the United States: Hall’s theorizing of diaspora reverberates far and wide. For that reason, Hall’s concept of diaspora merits revisiting, not only as a reminder of what his work routinely affirms, but also, importantly, to consider what his elaboration of the diaspora concept affirmatively opposes, contrasts, or refuses. Specifically, in his own method of argumentation, Hall repeatedly holds his notion of the diaspora concept at arm’s length from a set of historical, political, and cultural concerns regarding Palestine and Israel. How ought we to understand this pattern of relational refusal that repeats across Hall’s work in this area? And what might be yielded by stretching Hall’s own insights beyond their own selfimposed limitations, and even thinking through their translation? Considering these questions is the task of this chapter. Hall’s first sustained foray into writing about diaspora was on the occasion of a lecture he delivered at the First Caribbean Film Festival, held in Martinique in June . The lecture, titled “Cultural Identity and Cinematic Representation,” was published a year later as an article in the journal Framework, sharing space under the heading “Third Scenario: Theory and the Politics of Location” with Coco Fusco, Michelle Wallace, John Akomfrah, Laleen Jayamanne, and bell hooks. Soon thereafter, the piece was published in Jonathan Rutherford’s edited anthology, entitled Identity: Community, Culture, Difference. Cosmetic changes to the anthologized version of the article notwithstanding, by far the most significant alteration is the change to the title, now called “Cultural

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

 . 

Identity and Diaspora.” Under this new title, the essay has circulated far and wide, reprinted in a number of field-defining anthologies. It has become what Christine Chivallon calls “a major signpost in treating new ways of producing identities in a globalized world.” As of March , according to Google Scholar, “Cultural Identity and Diaspora” had been cited over , times. Over , citations had occurred since the beginning of  alone. In this foundational essay, Hall elaborates what he calls the “metaphor” of diaspora, something that, for Hall here, is constitutive of AfroCaribbean identities. Such identities are cross-hatched by national, cultural, and linguistic heterogeneity, imbued with a multiplicative sense that is “constantly producing and reproducing themselves anew, through transformation and difference.” For contemporary Afro-Caribbean filmmakers, the triangular presence of European, African, and American lexicons, themes, and experiences catalyzed an innovative cinema capable of speaking to modernity’s most profound problematics. In this way “Cultural Identity and Diaspora” has enabled scholars to think diasporic identity in terms that are at once historical, translational (across languages and contexts), and anti-essentialist. It locates the politics of diasporic identity in contingent, and sometimes contradictory, constellations of social, cultural, and psychoanalytic fields, and has given form and meaning through the production and circulation of expressive culture. Swapping “cinematic representation” for “diaspora” in the essay’s title serves as a reminder that the latter, for Hall, is always already mediated, screened, inscribed, and conveyed through the operations of signification. His subsequent writings on diaspora all carry forward, elaborate, and refine these early formulations – emphasizing the discursive production of diasporic identity, its constructedness, and its persistently mediated quality. Importantly, in this formative essay, Hall posits that diaspora has a hegemonic referent, a “literal meaning” against which he writes. Literal diasporas are infused with an older “imperializing” notion of what he terms “ethnicity.” Elsewhere in his work of this period, Hall expanded substantially on this notion of ethnic identity. The production of ethnicity necessarily marshalled narratives of the past, often through the language of recovery or recuperation, often explicitly in opposition to the degrading imposition of colonial and white supremacist terms. This narrative work was “an enormous act of . . . imaginary political re-identification . . . without which a counter-politics could not have been constructed.” Coming into representation marks a crucial moment in the process of waging battle against racist marginalization and exclusion. Yet importantly,

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Stuart Hall and the Question of Palestine



for Hall, such a process is itself mediated by language and representation, and thus cross-hatched by its own silences and incompletions and amnesias. For much of “Cultural Identity and Diaspora,” this “older” sense of ethnicity crystallized in singular nationalist formulations of identity that were disrupted by the multilingual and multimodal forms of cinema produced by contemporary Afro-Caribbean filmmakers. But at the end of the essay, the “literal meaning” of diaspora’s referent takes on a distinct tenor, with significant political consequence. He writes, I do not mean those scattered tribes whose identity can only be secured in relation to some sacred homeland to which they must at all costs return, even if it means pushing other people into the sea . . . . We have seen the fate of the people of Palestine at the hands of this backward-looking conception of diaspora – and the complicity of the West with it.

Hall argues that this “literal” sense of diasporic identity materializes most notably in the unjust displacement and dispossession of Palestine’s indigenous residents. It is precisely because of this new form of displacement that Hall disavows “literal” diasporas. Implicit in his understanding of Jewish diasporas is the promise of return, one that inflects hegemonic narratives of diaspora more broadly, where diaspora involves the condition of hoping for an end to dispersal, and where Zionism as a particular political ideology turns that promise of return into a nationalist settler colonial project. In other words, in Hall’s hands, Zionism stands in as a synecdoche for something called a “literal” Jewish diaspora and, in doing so, he rests his contrasting example on a foreshortened reading of both terms. Indeed, as Daniel Boyarin has incisively argued in this regard, “Zionism, which is the privation of diaspora, the avowed enemy of diasporic Jewishness, is taken [by Hall] as the essential affirmation and description of historical Jewish experience, which is then named as not diasporic and foreordained for supersession.” At the same time, despite his concern with injustice, Hall neglects to ascertain Palestinian lifeworlds as potentially providing the grounds from which to enunciate a complex cultural politics rendered in and through dispersion. The allusion to Zionism and its profound effects on Palestine and Palestinians is only a fleeting moment in Hall’s essay, to be sure – perhaps no more than a rhetorical flourish. One might account for it, in part, by modestly sketching some context for its enunciation. June , when Hall delivered his original lecture, marked a crescendo in the early months of the First Intifada, when Palestinians’ widespread popular resistance to Israeli occupation gripped international media, and the Israeli

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

 . 

government’s response became increasingly draconian. And yet, across his most sustained meditations on the relevance of diaspora for understanding articulations of race, nation, and colonialism, Hall routinely cast as external the urgent concerns of Palestine and Israel, something other, as relevant only by way of contrast. The predicament supplements Hall’s argument, displaced yet never far off. In setting aside Palestine and Israel’s incommensurable yet inextricably interrelated histories, Hall pre-emptively forecloses key elements of his notion of the diasporic from potentially significant lines of inquiry. For example, Hall’s lectures at Harvard in  culminate in an extensive excavation of the diaspora concept. Here Hall again underscores his interest in diaspora as metaphor, describing the concept as “a metaphor for the discursive production of new interstitial spaces arising from the long processes of globalization in which actual physical movement and displacement are key elements of our current moment and also symptomatic of the wider consequences of global connectedness and disjuncture.” Here the aperture of Hall’s engagement with diaspora has widened, for, in the gauzy aftermath of the Cold War, Hall succinctly cuts through the celebratory haze emanating from metropolitan capitals by tracing broader arcs of forced migration, while also foregrounding discourse as bearing weighty material effects in the world. Again, Palestine and Israel serve as a contrasting example for his argument. He writes, “it is not in my view at all impossible for a certain notion of diaspora to function discursively by suturing chains of equivalence to a distinctly closed or fundamentalist logic, as it has done in the case of Palestine/Israel.” Such a logic leads to a Zionist cultural politics of “return” that result in “sitting on the heads of the people who have always shared that homeland.” In a subtle revision to his previous formulation, here Hall draws from Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe to claim that the state’s is but one specific, albeit significant, construction of diaspora, forged in settler nationalism’s smithy of language and power. For that reason, it too can be deconstructed and recast. “It is only if we can unsettle these patterns, and establish an alternative chain of equivalences, that the term diaspora begins to function as a signifier of translation across differences.” Hall no longer pits the metaphoric against some more materially significant “literal,” as he had previously. Instead, the metaphoric signals a practice of discursive rearticulation, releasing the movements that arise in cultural translation from the chains of Israeli state discourse, and holding open, rather than obscuring or foreclosing, the in-between spaces of colonial and capitalist modernity. Loosening the Israeli state’s grasp on the discourse of diaspora thus

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Stuart Hall and the Question of Palestine



avails the concept to mixed and heterogeneous cultural forms, marked by a persistent opening out, an orientation to translation. Diaspora in this way offers Hall a way of figuring the lived relation between the weft of trans-Atlantic slavery and the warp of wide-ranging post–World War II migration routes. Yet, inexplicably, Hall neglects to bring this rearticulated relational sense of diaspora back to Palestine and Israel. The analysis falls away prior to fulfilling its own deconstructive impulse. Hall’s posthumously published autobiography comes closest to completing this analytical journey. Familiar Stranger () is in both form and theme a personal narrative of diasporic subjectivity. Hall’s own multiple “transformations and displacements” compose the fabric of the text. The world historical forces of displacement are the setting against which Hall weaves his own life activity, from trans-Atlantic slavery writ large to Jamaica’s position as an extractive colony for Britain predicated on slave labor, to twentieth-century mobilizations for post-colonial independence, the post–World War II migrations to England, and the formation of the New Left in the wake of the  Suez crisis and the Soviet invasion of Hungary. Against this backdrop moves the book’s authorial protagonist. In this first-person perspective, Hall positions diaspora as a heuristic, a way to make meaning and draw conclusions. “I chose to live my relation to where I was born, to my past, to my conditions of existence and to the dilemmas associated with them, in and through the diaspora: to track them through their various transformations and displacements, which are the forms in which they became – and are still – active and alive for me.” Later he drives home the notion of diasporic experience as personal analytic, “helpful in opening out to me the dynamics of my own historical formation, of my own life.” Perhaps given its significance as a structuring dimension of the text, at the core of Familiar Stranger are rich reflections on diaspora. As with the earlier writings, the question of diaspora’s relation to Palestine and Israel plays a prominent, if ultimately supplemental, role. Whereas, in previous work, Hall had set aside this relation in a swift phrase or two, in Familiar Stranger he is more patient, the translational texture of his narrative of diaspora more refined. He introduces a relation beyond contrast or refusal, one that almost approaches entanglement, before once again finally pulling away. He offers several pages of reflection on the emergence, meaning, and transit of diaspora as a concept shaped by modern conditions in Europe. A properly historical sense of the modern notion of diaspora emerges from the Jewish experience of “captivity in foreign lands . . . genocidal suffering, a history of anti-Semitism and pogroms, culminating in the

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

 . 

Holocaust.” He claims that “this catastrophic historical Jewish experience has summoned up, in response, a conception of diaspora, the essence of which is that the suffering of the Jewish people will only end when the Jews are unified with their original homeland.” This version of diaspora offers what Hall terms a “consolatory dream – freedom as return,” one present for so many peoples subject to “violent capture, forced transplantation, enslavement or mass expulsions.” Rather than posit a static, even ahistorical diaspora concept, Hall renders a history of Jewish diasporic formations that precedes and exceeds Zionism’s settler nationalism. Pried away, if only for a moment, from the particular urgencies and exigencies of contemporary politics, diaspora opens out to a discourse of freedom, one that intersects with, infuses, and is transmuted in the cultural history of the African diaspora. Hall writes, Among enslaved Africans of the New World the idea [of return] was certainly vividly present in their dream of freedom. Later it provided the leading inspiration in the black Independence and ‘Back to Africa’ movements in the Americas, conspicuously so in Garveyism. But it can also be discerned in some versions of Pan-Africanism, and it’s forcefully recuperated in the language of “suffering in Babylon” in Rastafarianism.

Historicizing the concept as a kind of Afro-Zionism in this way opens critical terrain from which to reckon with practices of translation and remixing. Hall can then distinguish the “ahistorical, mythological, eschatological elements in this version of the diaspora narrative” from a broader lexicon of freedom dreams circulating in the African diaspora. Yet pursuing this particular trajectory is not the primary focus of Hall’s narrative. When “fundamentalist” elements are given material force, they produce a “disfigured conception” of diaspora, one that here more than elsewhere Hall clarifies with historical specificity. This conception was marshalled in the wake of the Balfour Declaration to create “an exclusive ethnic and religious nation state.” It legitimated what Hall calls the “recolonization” of Palestine (presumably after the withdrawal of British mandatory administration), whereby “Palestinians were made second-class citizens, displaced to other places, or confined to two physically separate and divided enclaves, their land expropriated and generations obliged to spend their lives as a refugee population.” Hall recounts Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem, its military acts against Palestinian protestors, its siege of the Gaza Strip. He proffers that Europe has “assuaged its guilt over its own long practice of anti-Semitism by colluding with the state of Israel in exacting revenge – not on Western anti-Semitism, which caused such a

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catalog of horrors in the first place, but on the Palestinian people themselves.” And in ways that resonate with the current state of political culture in the United Kingdom and the United States, Hall bemoans the fact that specious charges of antisemitism are routinely levied to inoculate the state of Israel from meaningful critiques of its practices and policies. The density of Hall’s relational reflections here is significant. Yet, while diasporic Jewishness is complexly historicized and placed in a translational network that includes the African diaspora, Palestine remains solely a locus of extreme suffering, an abject zone of humanitarian catastrophe to be witnessed and reckoned with. Palestinians are, perhaps unwittingly, figured in Hall’s account as outside space and time, outside history. The life activities of Palestinians engaged in a world of difference in historic Palestine, as well as in diasporas near and far, go unremarked on. This is as thick an account as any Hall provides for the historical emergence and effects of a particular conception of Jewish diaspora, its translation in Black freedom struggles, and its brutal relation to Palestinian dispossession. It is crucial work for Hall, even if it is only, again, finally in the service of setting this relation aside. He writes, “the concept of diaspora . . . has to be excavated from [its] philosophical terrain and reimagined.” Indeed, for all the analytical possibilities it makes available, Hall’s diaspora concept is nevertheless buttressed by a limited reading of Jewish diaspora and a lacuna in recognizing the practice of Palestinian diaspora. The sense of Jewish diaspora that supplements Hall’s arguments moves from deeply foreshortened in the early work to being entangled, remixed, and enfolded in a wider relational field. Such revisions are enriching and enlivening. And yet, paradoxically perhaps, the status of Palestinians in Hall’s arguments remains stubbornly inert across these works, held outside history. Numerous queries thus emerge from carrying Hall’s reimagined concept of diaspora back into the predicament of Palestine and Israel. How do cultural practices of diaspora entangled with Palestine and Israel articulate the displacements of war, violence, and dispossession through genealogies of trans-Atlantic slavery, settler colonialism, and racial capitalism? How do those genealogies inform histories and memories of the Holocaust and the Nakba? How are Palestinian cultural practices situated, remixed, and translated locally? What forms do these practices take? What is the texture of their transnational mediation? Might denaturalizing “return” through the critical study of diasporic cultural practices, even in the midst of ongoing displacement and dispossession, nevertheless inform decolonial imaginaries? If so, how?

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 . 

To suggest a direct correspondence between Israel and Palestine as an entangled domain of inquiry and its transnational relationships with Jewish and Palestinian diasporas pre-empts substantive accounts of the differentially-frayed bonds meant to hold nation, state, and territory as the dominant structure of political life. Such correspondence risks naturalizing a prevailing Zionist narrative that seeks for the state the primacy of Jewish longing and belonging, casting “return” as the ultimate end of Diaspora (written in Israeli law with a capital “D,” as if there were only one proper referent). This naturalized narrative is one key limitation of Hall’s formulation. We ought not foreclose in advance those conceptions of Jewish diaspora enunciated and practiced in other terms, including terms that exceed or even refuse the terms hailed by the state. Think of work by Judith Butler to assemble an archive of twentieth-century critical theoretical resources that figure the history of Jewish displacement to shape an ethical orientation to the unhomely conditions of colonial modernity. Daniel Boyarin dislodges a theologically-inscribed desire for a return to “homeland,” drawing instead on hermeneutic relations to the Babylonian Talmud as the practice that constructs the diasporic. And Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz’s Colors of Jews proposes “radical diasporism” as a way for American Jews to engage movements for racial justice based in the heterogeneity of Jewish lifeworlds. Works such as these illustrate a strain of scholarship that marshals the relational conditions and practices of Jewish diaspora as conveying the grounds from which to challenge illegal or unjust practices of the Israeli state, not provide their ostensible alibi. Critically rerouting Jewish diaspora may productively interrupt the promise of “return” to the bounds of nation, state, and territory. Doing so resonates with Palestinian scholar Yasir Suleiman’s sense of diaspora, a term that “encompasses the diversity of Palestinian experience . . . Even for Palestinians who stayed put when Israel was established in , the earth violently rocked and moved from under their feet, diasporizing them in situ.” But universalizing diaspora on these terms also runs up against a vibrant and ongoing Palestinian politics of return. The term itself has done enriching work to frame “return” as part of Palestine’s cultural imaginary, since at least Walid Khalidi’s magisterial photographic project, Before their Diaspora. Khalidi’s project, like so many to follow, is animated in no small part by desires for, and institutional arrangements that presume, a just resolution to assumptively temporary conditions of Palestinian refugeehood between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, in the archipelago of refugee camps in the region, and in the multiple

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displacements in and beyond Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria. Such desires for return are reflected in vast swathes of Palestinian cultural production, to say nothing of the vibrant threads of international law and frameworks for negotiation whose history goes back to . United Nations Resolution , it is worth recalling, resolves to permit Palestinians to return to their homes “at the earliest practicable date,” and for those who do not choose to return, to be justly compensated for their lost property. Some scholars caution against an unqualified embrace of the diaspora concept for Palestinians precisely for these reasons. Julie Peteet, for instance, urges us to unspool the materially significant distinctions that emerge from Palestinian histories of refugeehood, exile, statelessness, occupation, siege, and differentiated legal status. Diaspora when thought only as an existence thrown beyond the time of the “practicable,” beyond “the door of no return,” in Black Canadian poet Dionne Brand’s evocative formulation, ironically realizes Zionism’s settler visions and struggles to countenance historically-meaningful Palestinian visions of justice. A recent counterpoint to this argument has been advanced by Ruba Salih and Sophie Richter-Devroe, in their edited special issue of South Atlantic Quarterly on “Palestine Beyond National Frames.” Salih and Richter-Devroe compellingly argue that a unitary focus on return may unwittingly foreclose the possibility of envisioning alternatives to the forces suturing nation, state, and territory, itself a hegemonic political structure borne of histories of empire and colonialism. These important tensions touch down in a final iteration of Hall’s foundational essay. In , Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics, based in the English and Comparative Literature Department at the American University of Cairo, published a special issue on “The Imaginary and the Documentary: Cultural Studies in Literature, History, and the Arts.” Notable as a refereed multilingual journal publishing articles in Arabic, English, and French, the work of translation has long played a vital role in the life of Alif. This issue featured, among other things, two of Hall’s signature essays translated into Arabic by the journal’s founding editor, Ferial Ghazoul, including the one on cultural identity. Ghazoul’s translation is of the inaugural Framework essay, though the title she uses, “Al-hūīat althaqafīat wa-alshatāt,” references the more widely circulated edition that emphasizes diaspora. Ghazoul states as much at the outset, noting that “the translation also benefited from a later version of the article and minor amendments which the author made when included in an edited book on identity, a slight adjustment [ta’deel] to the title, which is followed by this translation.” As with Hall’s original change in title, Ghazoul’s adjustment, from “al-tamthīl al-sīnimā’ī” (“cinematic

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 . 

representation”) to “al-shatāt” opens to a much wider story. This is so not only because it telegraphs one of the key interventions of Hall’s contribution to debates about diaspora – that representation is constitutive of diasporic practice. More importantly, it also surfaces the critical frictions between diaspora and al-shatāt, a term frequently deployed in the Palestinian context to name the forcible conditions of dispossession and displacement across uneven geographies. To understand the operative concept in Hall’s foundational work through Ghazoul’s suggestive translation offers scholars of diaspora an invitation to dwell in a substantively entangled relation with Palestinian histories and practices of world-making. It is to invite us to set off on an entirely different itinerary. These relational lines of flight are available to pursue, and not simply set aside, in no small measure because the “problem-space” in which to consider them has changed since the conjuncture from which Hall thought. Jewish diasporic longings are increasingly visible as disidentified from the state of Israel and increasingly refuse to serve as an alibi for the state’s brutal and anti-democratic impulses, even as the Israeli state continually attempts to incorporate the Jewish diaspora through law, policy, and cultural suasion. The critical lexicon emerging from Indigenous Studies and movements to grasp the structural character of settler colonial dispossession have begun to clarify the competing meanings and stakes of Palestinian sovereignty. The ideological lineaments, technologies, and translations of racialized state violence in the United States, Israel, and Palestine are being articulated anew, often opposed under the sign of renewed Black–Palestinian solidarities that build on a history of a Black internationalist imagination. Given these shifts, what might it mean to bring Hall’s argument full circle? It would mean deepening how we understand diasporic entanglements – histories of “convergence without analogy,” transited and translated and remixed across uneven cultural terrain. Situated in a world of difference.

Notes  For important recent forays in this area see Bashir Bashir and Leila Farsakh (eds.), The Arab and Jewish Questions: Geographies of Engagement in Palestine and Beyond (New York: Columbia University Press, ); Bashir Bashir and Amos Goldberg (eds.), The Holocaust and the Nakba: A New Grammar of Trauma and History (New York: Columbia University Press, ); Zahi Zalloua, Continental Philosophy and the Palestinian Question: Beyond the Jew and the Greek (London: Bloomsbury, ).

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 Keith P. Feldman, “On Relationality, On Blackness: A Listening Post.” Comparative Literature, , no.  (): –.  D. Jean Clandinin, Vera Caine, and Sean Lessard, The Relational Ethics of Narrative Inquiry (London: Routledge, ).  Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning (Durham: Duke University Press, ).  Hentyle Yapp, “Feeling Down(town Julie Brown): The Sense of Up and Expiring Relationality.” Journal of Visual Culture, , no.  (): –.  On relational forms of racialization, see Natalia Molina, Daniel Martinez HoSang, and Ramón A. Gutiérrez (eds.), Relational Formations of Race: Theory, Method, and Practice (Berkeley: University of California Press, ). On coloniality, see Jodi Byrd, Alyosha Goldstein, Jodi Melamed, and Chandan Reddy, “Predatory Value: Economies of Dispossession and Disturbed Relationalities.” Social Text, , no.  (): –.  Zachary Lockman, “Railway Workers and Relational History: Arabs and Jews in British-Ruled Palestine.” Comparative Studies in Society and History, , no.  (): .  Ibid., .  Ibid., .  Rebecca L. Stein and Ted Swedenburg, “Popular Culture, Relational History, and the Question of Power in Palestine and Israel.” Journal of Palestine Studies, , no.  (): –.  Stuart Hall, “Cultural Identity and Cinematic Representation.” Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media, no.  (): –.  Jonathan Rutherford (ed.), Identity: Community, Culture, Difference (London: Lawrence & Wishart, ).  Jana Evans Braziel and Anita Mannur (eds.), Theorizing Diaspora (London: Wiley-Blackwell, ); Patrick Williams and Laura Chrisman (eds.), Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory: A Reader (New York: Columbia University Press, ).  Christine Chivallon, “Decoding the Diaspora of Stuart Hall: Historicity, Performativity, and Performance of a Concept.” African and Black Diaspora: An International Journal, , no.  (): .  Stuart Hall, “Cultural Identity and Diaspora.” In Identity: Community, Culture, Difference, ed. Jonathan Rutherford (London: Lawrence & Wishart, ), .  See, for example, Brent Hayes Edwards, The Practice of Diaspora: Literature, Translation, and the Rise of Black Internationalism (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, ).  Hall, “Cultural Identity and Diaspora,” .  Stuart Hall, “Old and New Identities, Old and New Ethnicities.” In Culture, Globalization and the World-System: Contemporary Conditions for the Representation of Identity, ed. Anthony D. King (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, ), –.  Hall, “Cultural Identity and Diaspora,” .

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 . 

 My thanks to Angela Naimou for assisting in the articulation of this formulation.  Daniel Boyarin, A Traveling Homeland: The Babylonian Talmund as Diaspora (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, ), , emphasis added.  Stuart Hall, The Fateful Triangle: Race, Ethnicity, Nation, ed. Kobena Mercer (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, ), .  Ibid., .  Ibid., –.  Ibid., , original emphasis.  Stuart Hall, Familiar Stranger: A Life between Two Islands, ed. Bill Schwarz (Durham: Duke University Press, ), , original emphasis.  Ibid., .  Ibid., .  Ibid., .  Ibid., .  On Afro-Zionism, see Alex Lubin, Geographies of Liberation: The Making of an Afro-Arab Political Imaginary (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, ).  Hall, Familiar Stranger, .  Robin D. G. Kelley, Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination (Boston: Beacon Press ).  Hall, Familiar Stranger,   Ibid., .  Ibid., .  Judith Butler, Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism (New York: Columbia University Press, ).  Boyarin, Traveling Homeland.  Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz, The Colors of Jews: Racial Politics and Radical Diasporism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, ).  Yasir Suleiman (ed.), Being Palestinian: Personal Reflections on Palestinian Identity in the Diaspora (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, ), .  Walid Khalidi, Before Their Diaspora: A Photographic History of the Palestinians – (Washington DC: Institute for Palestine Studies, ).  Julie Peteet, “Problematizing a Palestinian Diaspora.” International Journal of Middle East Studies, , no.  (): –.  Dionne Brand, A Map to the Door of No Return: Notes to Belonging (Toronto: Vintage Canada, ).  Sophie Richter-Devroe and Ruba Salih, “Palestine beyond National Frames: Emerging Politics, Cultures, and Claims.” South Atlantic Quarterly, , no.  (): –.  Stuart Hall, “‫ ﺍﻟﻬﻮﻳﺔ ﺍﻟﺜﻘﺎﻓﻴﺔ ﻭﺍﻟﺸﺘﺎﺕ‬/ Cultural Identity and Diaspora,” trans. Ferial Ghazoul. Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics, no.  (): .  Ibid., . Translation of Ghazoul’s note is my own.  See, for instance, Atalia Omer, Days of Awe: Reimagining Jewishness in Solidarity with Palestinians (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, ); and Santiago

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Slabodsky, Decolonial Judaism: Triumphal Failures of Barbaric Thinking (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, ).  See, for instance, Rana Barakat, “Writing/Righting Palestine Studies: Settler Colonialism, Indigenous Sovereignty and Resisting the Ghost(s) of History.” Settler Colonial Studies, , no.  (): –; Brenna Bhandar, Colonial Lives of Property: Law, Land, and Racial Regimes of Ownership (Durham: Duke University Press, ); Steven Salaita, Inter/Nationalism: Decolonizing Native America and Palestine (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, ).  See, for instance, Noura Erakat, “Geographies of Intimacy: Contemporary Renewals of Black-Palestinian Solidarity.” American Quarterly, , no.  (): –; Keith P. Feldman, A Shadow over Palestine: The Imperial Life of Race in America (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, ); Robin D. G. Kelley, “From the River to the Sea to Every Mountain Top: Solidarity as Worldmaking.” Journal of Palestine Studies, , no.  (): –.  Judith Butler, “Is Judaism Zionism?” In The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere, ed. Eduardo Mendieta and Jonathan VanAntwerpen (New York: Columbia University Press, ), .

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Radical Black Poetics and South–South Movement Walt Hunter

Claudia Jones’s life, her leadership within the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA), and her political writing for the Daily Worker and Political Affairs have attracted strong interest in the last decade as scholars continue to redress the “erasure of black left feminism within black radicalism.” Yet, despite the success of Jones’s activism in bringing together intellectuals and artists and in supporting leftist and anti-imperial struggle around the world, Jones’s poetry has been touched by contemporary readers only lightly. The extensive corpus of writing about Jones has yet to focus its attention on her poetic devices and in particular her crafting of rhyme, syntax, and stanza structure. The creative work of Black, leftist, Caribbean women remains understudied within research on modern poetics, on diasporic literature, and within the critical discourses of poetry and of poetic form more generally. In this chapter, I think through some of the ways that poetic tropes and schemes not only emerge from and reflect conditions that might be called diasporic, but also present unique visions of south–south movement and radical responses in their own right. Ways of teaching poetry from New Criticism to Deconstruction have sometimes occluded the site-based and situational positions from which poetry has been written, in favor of timeless claims about trope and scheme. Jones’s poems, which enact a space of sociality between revolutionary women of color, are dynamic forms emerging from historical conditions that are intensely racialized, gendered, and classed. As such, they require a poetic pedagogy of dissent that engages histories and discourses of carcerality, deportation, super-exploitation, and global migration. I contend here that Jones’s poetry challenges transhistorical claims about what poetry is, claims that have been produced through classroombased pedagogies and genealogies. I look closely at two poems by Claudia Jones as case studies for reading poetic form as shaped by the materiality of lived experience: “Elms at Morn” () and “For Consuela – AntiFascista” (). These poems uncover Jones’s poetics of carcerality and 

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politics of Black internationalism, linking conventions of poetic form to an ever-growing collective of revolutionary women. Jones’s poetry proposes a remapping of diaspora as a circuit of solidarity between women workers and revolutionaries that stretches from Puerto Rico to West Virginia to China and Russia. Jones’s  letter to William Z. Foster, published and preserved through Carole Boyce Davies’s meticulous archival work, provides a timeline for her life and an intellectual history of her political thinking. Claudia Jones came to Harlem from Trinidad in . She joined the CPUSA in  at the age of twenty one, and served as Executive Secretary for the National Negro Commission (NNC) of the CPUSA from  to . As Rebecca Hill explains, Jones came to prominence in the CPUSA after the ousting of Earl Browder and amid critiques about the Party’s “compromises with American nationalism that encouraged the Party to give low priority to the demands of black workers.” Jones’s essays and speeches made her a frequent target of anticommunist repression in the late s and early s. She was arrested four times: in  under the  Immigration Act; in  under the McCarran Act; in  under the Smith Act; and in , when she was sent to the Federal Reformatory for Women in Alderson, West Virginia. She spent nine months and eighteen days there. After her release, she was deported to the United Kingdom on December , . The McCarran-Walter Act (Immigration and Nationality Act of ) rendered any alien in the Unites States deportable for “offenses such as teaching revolutionary information” and limited immigration from the British colonies in the Caribbean to  people a year. The Alien Registration Act of , or the Smith Act, made it unlawful “to knowingly or willfully advocate, abet, advise, or teach the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying any Government of the United States by force or violence.” To read Jones is to see these pieces of racist legislation as central to the history of both poetic making and forced migration in the post-war period. All of Jones’s intellectual output, creative writing, and political activism brings a strongly internationalist cast to its anti-racist politics. Jones arrived in London in , seven years after the Empire Windrush and the British Nationality Act of , when immigration from British colonies had dramatically increased. Her later years in London were marked by a backlash that “re-inscribed racialized boundaries around British citizenship, identity and right of entry.” She founded the West Indian Gazette and Afro-Caribbean News and the Afro–Asia–Caribbean Conference. In

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 

, she spoke alongside Julius Nyerere, former president of Tanzania and member of the Non-Aligned Movement, at the Movement for Colonial Freedom conference. Norman Manley, Prime Minister of Jamaica, attended the inaugural meeting of the Afro–Asian–Caribbean conference. Shortly before her death in , she worked with the African National Congress and the Anti-Apartheid Movement to coordinate a hunger strike. She met Mao on a trip to China the same year, while a delegate to the Tenth World Conference against the Hydrogen and Atom Bombs in Tokyo. The Barbadian novelist George Lamming and the British historian Eric Hobsbawm were acquaintances and collaborators. For her political and cultural work in the late s, Jones could easily be situated within the larger history of “the Third World Project,” which Vijay Prashad describes as the creation of institutions to unite anticolonial visions from Africa, Asia, and Latin America, from the League against Imperialism () through the Pan-African Congress in Manchester () and the Bandung Conference (). Jones’s essays, including “An End to the Neglect of the Problem of the Negro Woman!” () are classic texts of social theory that prepare the ground for the anti-imperialist, materialist analysis of Angela Davis. As Dayo Gore shows, Jones’s emphasis on the leadership potential of Black women combatted the “centering of white women’s experience as universal” within the ranks of the CPUSA. In “An End to the Neglect,” Jones decries the relegation of Black women to domestic work, which she traces to “an ideological campaign to make domestic work palatable” and reinforce the systematic expulsion of Black women from industry. The essay is particularly important for its advocacy of Rosa Lee Ingram, the Georgia sharecropper with fourteen children sentenced to death for killing a white neighbor, John Stratford, in self-defense. Jones emphasizes the work of poetry in freeing Ingram and her two sons, Wallace and Sammie Lee, calling for “progressive cultural workers” to “write and sing of the Negro woman in her full courage and dignity.” They were freed on parole in . Jones shows in this essay how the super-exploitation of the Black, working class woman and the devaluation of the political contributions of Black women in the United States required a strong commitment to antiracism from Party members. In her essays for Political Affairs, where “US empire building remained in the spotlight,” Jones was keen to demonstrate how anti-imperialist and anticolonial work on a global scale was continuous with anti-racist struggle on the domestic stage. Jones’s poetry, with its intricate music of hope and exhortation, imagines diaspora as a call to create a revolutionary future rather than a claim to

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recover a usable past. Yet this poetry has been doubly disappeared: first, because much of it was written while Jones was incarcerated in the s, then memorized and destroyed by her before her release; and second, because its formal conventions and its radical thinking at the intersection of race, class, gender, war, and incarceration have an uncertain position within traditions of Black Atlantic thought, modern poetry, leftist poetics, and global south histories. The poetic tropes and schemes found in Jones’s poems, from her construction of stanza and line to her copious use of internal rhyme, are crucial sites where she works out her prescient critiques of racial capitalism and her prophetic calls to internationalist solidarity between women. Many of Jones’s abiding theoretical preoccupations – the erasure of Black women’s domestic labor, the relation between war, incarceration, deportation, and capitalism, and the sociality between women of the global south – emerge through and within the smallest details of her poetic compositions. The poems preserved in Jones’s files at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture include a variety of genres: odes to autumn (“Radiant Season”), to the morning (“Morning Mists”), and to friends (“To Elizabeth Gurley Flynn,” “To a Dear Friend on Her Birthday”). Reading a letter written by Jones while in Ellis Island, Joseph Keith suggests that Jones’s “experiments in form and narrative technique” represent “an attempt to transvalue her personal experience of alienage into an analytic opportunity.” Her poems, too, channel and cross multiple poetic subgenres, from the lament to the ballad to the loco-descriptive poem. Jones was particularly fluent in the genre of the paean, as the titles and subject matter of several poems indicate (“Paean to the Atlantic,” “Paean to The Crimea,” “Thoughts on Visiting Yenan”). Certainly, the poems offered her a way to process emergent occasions: “Paean to the Atlantic,” written in December  while she was being deported to England, appears in her “Ship’s Log” a day after a letter to her father. Jones adds above the poem, in parentheses, “I write my poem to the sea – it burst from me after churning inside all day.” These poems are not, however, raw, unedited emotion put on the page, but careful, edited manuscripts, clearly intended as discrete poems. They are arranged almost entirely in rhyming quatrains, though “Paean to the Crimea” and “Thoughts on Visiting Yenan” have variable stanzas. Her typed manuscripts show evidence of her decision-making, as individual words are crossed out and lines adjusted. Moreover, many of the poems are dated, located, and signed “by Claudia Jones.” I emphasize these details to underscore the point that Jones clearly thought of herself as a poet and of

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poetry as a distinct activity related to but not identical with journalism and essay-writing. The very genre of the paean – a song of triumph which reaches back to Pindar and forward to Lorine Niedecker’s “Paean to Place” – suggests the heightened presence of inherited convention and artifice, even as the poems clearly document her deportation, travels, friendships, and political stances. What motivates the joy of the paean for Jones – the reason why the genre springs to her hand – is not really the celebration of the past or present; these are, after all, poems written under incarceration, then deportation, and then ailing health as Jones, burdened with tuberculosis and heart problems, visited China, Japan, and Russia. Nor can the intensity of these poems be reduced to resisting or overcoming the current state of things. Jones’s paeans are electrified instead with the exaltation of future visions. The transformative energy of the paean turns the Atlantic, and Jones’s forced crossing of it, into the “asylum path of peoples / Bound to social progress true.” A lament written for Emmett Till concludes with a rousing exhortation to “wake” and to “avenge” Till’s life. Poems written to friends who are absent, such as Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, turn the written text itself into an emblem of future presence: “Of all the times I’ll miss you most / Is when I’m least aware / Because you will intrude I know / Upon my inner ear.” When the fifteen poems are read together as a group, Jones’s rhyming stanzas and regular iambic meter share in the paean’s force, too. Her poetic lines (as are apparent in the poem “To Consuela – Anti-Fascista”) land firmly and securely on the ground that the previous lines prepared, as though training the “inner ear” to listen. Here is the final quatrain of “Clay Sculpture,” which meditates on an as-yet unshaped piece of clay: But most of all when turning ‘round by hand this property I turn the lock on all mankind’s recorded history For here lies proof supremely clear that bold humanity Can storm all doors through toil and will – if they but see!

By analogy to the unmolded clay, Jones’s raw experiences, friendships, and thoughts already, when carefully observed, contain “proof” of their future shape, which her poetry transcribes in its wrought forms. Just as her essays are diagnoses of the present, her poems are proof of the future. I look now to a poem, “Elms at Morn,” that does not fit within the genre of the paean, but that unlocks a complementary kind of political work for Jones, helping her think through the interconnection between domestic and global struggles. The materials that come to hand while

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writing a poem – including organizational units like stanzas and rhymes and tropes like metonymy – help Jones to recapitulate and to elaborate her key theoretical preoccupations. In turn, Jones’s configuration of race, class, and gender grounds the elements of poetic craft in material exigency. For Jones, who became a prize-winning weaver while incarcerated, the labor of fashioning a poem was continuous with prison labor and with radical thinking. Jones most likely wrote “Elms at Morn” around  while imprisoned at Ellis Island. Barbed wire fence surrounds me And the fog rolls slowly in The elms stand tall and stately And the maples crowd them in The mops are on the porch my dear And Frances sits beside me Lois smokes a cigarette I am in an awful net

The title of the poem sets the stage for a pastoral poem or a descriptive scene, but any conventions of pastoral are abruptly rejected by the first words of the poem. In the first stanza, Jones’s economy of description casts four objects into vivid relief: the fence, the fog, the elms, and the maples. Juxtaposing two still images in a manner sometimes associated with modernist poems by Ezra Pound, H. D., and Amy Lowell, barbed wire and fog are paired with elms and maples. Jones associates the carceral and the arboreal by linking words together through rhyme: me/stately, in/in. There is a gradual, stepwise progression toward the human that begins with Jones’s prosopopoeia, the granting of human attributes to the nonhuman. This movement from the dehumanized carceral space (with a solitary “me” at its center) to the sinister, near-human-like presence of the trees has its own stately syntax: each line contains one image and one verb; the following line completes the scene with one more image and one more verb. This mirroring of syntax between lines  and  and lines  and  softens or disguises the slight shift toward human activity (surrounds/rolls versus stands/crowds). I may be reading too closely into the poem here – yet Jones, the prizewinning weaver, was extremely careful with the intricacies of what she called “the Loom of Language.” I believe the poem’s elements, the materials from which it is made, do a kind of work that the poem’s descriptive meaning cannot bear on its own. While this argument might be a truism in certain sectors of poetry criticism, it is not a truism when it

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comes to figures such as Jones, who are read much more for what they claim than for how they compose their claims. While “Elms at Morn” describes a prison scene, I believe it also raises a question: how is the space of incarceration related to the domestic labor of Black women? It raises rather than resolves this question because its stanzas hold together two scenes (in comparison? in contrast?) without necessarily identifying the relation between them. A poem can ask a question by repeating one of its elements while varying another. Here, Jones repeats her declarative syntax, but she varies her rhyme and also some of her objects. “The mops are on the porch my dear / and Frances sits beside me” mimics the syntax of the previous two sentences. But “mops” are not in the same semantic field as either barbed wire or trees; the poem has introduced labor directly. Similarly, the proper name Frances introduces a person into the poem, whereas the previous stanza had only suggested human presence (apart from the “me”) through the crowding of the maples. The stanzas feel connected because the syntax repeats, but the scene has shifted dramatically, as has the rhetoric: “my dear” suggests an address to someone absent, the poetic figure of apostrophe. These new elements widen the powers of the poem (it is now addressed to someone) but they also ask the question – by repeating the syntax – of how the barbed wire and the mops are connected. The crossing between stanzas in this poem is also a crossing between settings: the prison and the home, the national and the domestic. To put it another way, Jones’s poem about incarceration is also a poem about gendered labor. Reading Jones’s newspaper column “Half the World” and her essays from the same year, Cristina Mislán has teased out the relation between Jones’s anti-war stance and her critiques of domestic labor: a nation at war with Korea was also a nation in which two million Black women “remained confined to domestic and agricultural labor.” As “Elms at Morn” reveals, Jones’s poems link the conditions of incarcerated populations, which in the s would have included dissidents like Jones herself, with Black women who are employed in domestic labor or who perform unwaged work in the home. The space of the poem can produce likenesses of various kinds where the world outside the poem emphasizes difference or separation. “Elms at Morn” concludes with a rhyming couplet that joins “cigarette” and “net.” Rhymes placed in close proximity to each other form an electric wire running through one of Jones’s other poems, “For Consuela – AntiFascista.” Blanca Canales Torresola was a militant Puerto Rican nationalist

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who led the Jayuya Uprising in . She shared Alderson prison with Jones, who writes, It seems I knew you long before our common ties – of conscious choice Threw under single skies, those like us Who, fused by our mold Became their targets as of old I knew you in Jarama’s hills Through men and women drilled In majesty, whose dignity Rejected shirts and skirts of dimity. I heard you in Guernica’s songs Proud melodies that burst from tongues As yet unknown to me – full thronged With Liberty. Anti-anti-fascistas! That was your name I sang your fame Long ‘fore my witness of your bane of pain. I saw you in the passion-flower In roses full of flame Pure valley lily, whose bower Marks resemblance to your name.

These stanzas of the poem assert a lineage based on “conscious choice.” They connect “under single skies” Spain (Jarama, Guernica), Puerto Rico, and the United States. The poem is a transcolonial document that does, in two ways, precisely what the McCarran and Smith Acts endeavor to prevent. The poem claims an internationalism based on anti-imperialist commitment. And it does this by brandishing its noise, constantly starting low, then increasing its volume, the notations of a voice shouting in solitary confinement. “For Consuela – Anti-Fascista” should be situated not only in Jones’s personal life, but also in the development of the CPUSA’s political platform after World War II. As Rebecca Hill has shown, Black women within the NNC made connections between the fascisms of the Gestapo and the Klu Klux Klan during the war. After the war, they amplified their existing anti-fascist critique to US culture as a whole. Hill writes “Even though the Party’s official theory found the US at ‘five minutes to midnight’ in , the reference to American popular culture as ‘fascist’ had begun to appear even before the war had ended and became a constant

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refrain in .” Jones’s use of “anti-fascista,” gendered female and positioned at a linguistic intersection between the United States, Puerto Rico, and Spain, is historically specific: the title itself could be a reminder to the CPUSA of the leading role of women of color as anti-fascist thinkers and activists. Boyce Davies, in an extended reading of Jones’s poetry, argues that the poems, which she affiliates with the genre of the “prison blues,” are assertions of humanity “in conditions that seek to deny or negate that humanity.” The poems run parallel to Jones’s journalism: “For Consuela – Anti-Fascista,” according to Boyce Davies, is “Jones’s clearest statement in poetic form of the link between feminist and anti-imperialist politics.” Without losing sight of the ideas that this particular poem clearly states, I want to linger with the elements of poetic form that it foregrounds. The most striking aspect of the poem might be its recurring rhymes, which begin after the apostrophe “AntiAnti-Fascistas!” The repetition of “anti” suggests a movement of deliberation as the title for Blanca Canales Torresola comes to mind. A kind of emancipated tone then suddenly sets into the pattern of the poem, perhaps anticipated by the “-imity” rhymes in the first stanza. The pattern Jones uses is common to most of the poem’s stanzas: the sounding of a vowel becomes the prompt for tumbling internal rhymes – they eventually exceed the stanza itself. Although rhyme might be one of the most obvious poetic devices, it is also one of the most difficult devices to explain. The functions of rhyme vary widely: rhymes can underline an unexpected similarity or to draw out an antithesis between ideas; they can delimit and pace out the movement of an argument, as in Augustan couplets; they can bind disparate stanzas of a poem together, as in Provencal key rhyme or, very differently, in the Urdu ghazal; they can pull poetry closer to its neighboring forms of nonsense and of music. For Jones, rhyme may be as much of a “common tie” of “conscious choice” as the solidarity between her and Torresola. But I want to situate the noise of rhyme in the specific material environment of Jones’s incarceration. Rhyme introduces into a poem a pattern of sound that might mimic but, in all cases, exceeds the semantic meaning of the rhyme words. This noise emerges not in a neutral space – so often the ground of the interpretation of poetry – but under conditions that impede its hearing. Describing a riot in  of women prisoners in Lowell Cottage, Saidiya Hartman writes about the relation between noise, freedom, and refusal: For those within this circle, every groan and cry, curse and shout insisted slavery time was over. They were tired of being abused and confined, and

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they wanted to be free . . . In lieu of an explanation or an appeal, they shouted and stomped and screamed. How else were they to express the longing to be free? How else were they to make plain their refusal to be governed?

From inside the poem, Jones’s solitary riot of solidarity breaks out as a patterning of sound, an increasing density, and accumulating intensity of long “a” cries. The poem has a regular scaffolding of rhyme in the first three stanzas, perhaps reminiscent of an individual beginning to shout, laying down the auditory pattern for others to join. But then the apostrophe to “anti-fascista” sets off the poem’s equivalent, within Jones’s single voice, of a riot: “name,” “fame,” “bane,” “pain,” “flame” rapidly accumulate in force – a sequence that concludes by returning to “name” once more. The emancipation of the individual senses, as Marx notes in the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of , is a condition of possibility for social life and for confronting dehumanization. Reading Jones with Marx and with Hartman, I hear the amplification of the voice through rhyme as elaborating its own theory of anti-imperial togetherness. The poem moves from the imagination – “it seems I knew you” – to the various senses: “I heard you,” “I sang your fame,” “I saw you,” “Listen – while I tell you.” At the same time, it undergirds this movement with echoing sounds. In this way, the poem privileges tangible forms of association over direct knowledge and even over imaginative “knowing” – as though one might, instead, feel, hear, and sing one’s way into politics with another. Rhyme acts as a password into the poem’s network of affiliation. Can you hear it – and, if so, what do you make of it? As Hartman points out, the meaning of noise – like the meaning of poetic schemes and patterns – can be lost by “outsiders” who hear the music of collective resistance, of riot, as the dirge of mourning. The poem enacts a revitalization of the senses, a refusal to be governed, and an invitation to hear together (which is also, perhaps, a test to see who is paying attention). Is it possible that Jones’s poetry, barely circulated and nearly lost, was a laboratory for the complex and prescient thinking across race, gender, class, and imperial setting that can be found in her political essays from the same period? The formal devices of her poems make this thinking seem both intuitive and carefully constructed, the product of labor completed step by step. Rhyme has elements of surprise and of inevitability, as well as an ecstatic sensuality when it piles up. Four-line stanzas are perfect vehicles for discrete scenes or tableaux; two juxtaposed stanzas raise the question of whether two scenes might belong together and, if so, how or why they are related. Jones’s poetry thus enacts the difficulties of political solidarity

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across race, gender, and class lines by emphasizing its necessary constructedness – even its artificiality. In addition to uncovering or bringing to light a common struggle based on past oppression, Jones also calls for its forging in the future. At the same time, the materiality of her poetic forms takes advantage of some of the recognizable effects that poetic sounds and schemes have, finding in these effects the apparently natural vehicles for connecting women together through anti-fascist politics, class, and race. In an autobiographical fragment from June , written a few months before her death that December, Jones describes how her socialism, antiimperialism, and anti-racist politics draw from her a “certitude and commitment” that are missing in her personal relationships. She speaks selfcritically of her harshness and impatience with the “weakness” of others and of herself; she rejects liberal attitudes of sympathy. At the same time, she develops a concept of “togetherness”: the sharing of “certitude” in a radical future and the acceptance that that certitude cannot be found in “personal interest in people.” Togetherness, as she describes it, is a dialectical form of intimacy, a radical sociality that negates and transcends personal friendship. I mention this late fragment and its tantalizing idea of togetherness in order to draw out and explain some of the tensions within her poetry. Jones’s poems are formed from apparently contradictory impulses: they are private cries of an individual “I,” yet explicitly occasional calls for political redress; they are carefully shaped in their stanzaic structure, yet impressionistic in their vision and improvisational in their sound; they are clearly personal and rooted in singular experiences, but at the same time disinterested in their analysis and often allegorical. In her poems, Jones was able to track, display, enhance, and hold together the contradictions that made political activity possible under some of the least hospitable conditions imaginable. Jones’s poetry is more than an ornament to her political writing. Her poetry theorizes what togetherness might mean beyond interpersonal intimacy, liberal sympathy, or ethical encounters with insuperable difference. The idea that poetry would develop togetherness, and that it would mount its theories through the senses, are not neutral genre characteristics of poetry in general. They are dynamic forms emerging from specific historical conditions that are intensely racialized, gendered, and classed. These experiences certainly take hold in direct address, and in the exploration of an interior state, the expression of a voice and the assertion of presence. But they also, perhaps more unexpectedly, take hold in the materiality of the signifier, the heightened play with language, and thus with the senses, contesting if not overcoming the sensory deprivation of the solitary confinement cell.

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The criticism of poetry has yet to embrace fully – or without considerable backlash and controversy – Jones’s multidimensional argument that the triple exploitation of Black, lower-class women provides the foundation for genuinely radical political and creative activity. My argument therefore tries to keep in mind Dorothy Wang’s point that, when we turn to poetry, “we cannot fully understand the text without understanding both the importance of the marginalized, racialized, gendered subjectivity at work here and the inseparability of the language – the syntax, mood, verb tenses, and tone – from this subjectivity.” Jones’s poems call not only for more readers and teachers, but also for greater attention to the spaces in which the poems are read and taught. The formal questions that a poem raises in the classroom can sometimes erase the specificity of the institution in which the reading and teaching occurs, treating the classroom as a neutral zone in which to pose inquiries into the speaker of the poem, the rhyme schemes, the meter, and the work of metaphor and metonymy. But the classroom and the prison, as Fred Moten and Stefano Harney emphasize, are closely associated with each other, since “they are both involved in their way with the reduction and command of the social individual.” Bringing Jones’s radical Black poetics into the poetry classroom requires acknowledging the ways in which the classroom is always a globalized space, continuous with, though not identical with, the other spaces Jones occupied: the prison, the courtroom, the newspaper office, the street protest. Exploitation and violence make their way into the university poetry classroom in a variety of historically specific forms, from the casualized labor of teaching to the indebtedness of students to the ableist infrastructure of the building. Teaching Jones’s poetry ramifies outward into the classroom, demystifying the process of reading poetry while at the same time restoring the material conditions that the complicity between the university and global capitalism deliberately obscures.

Notes I am grateful to Jay Bernard, Isabelle Lim, Angela Naimou, Alan Wald, Dorothy Wang, and Zaria Washington for their comments, conversation, and guidance on previous versions of this essay. Poetry by Claudia Jones was reproduced from Claudia Jones: Beyond Containment with permission from Ayebia Clarke Publishing Limited, Banbury, Oxfordshire, UK. © Ayebia, www.ayebia.co.uk.  Eric McDuffie, Sojourning for Freedom: Black Women, American Communism, and the Making of Black Left Feminism (Durham: Duke University Press, ), . See also Joseph Keith, Unbecoming Americans: Writing Race and

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Nation from the Shadows of Citizenship, – (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, ), . Carole Boyce Davies’s Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones (Durham: Duke University Press, ) argues for Jones as a “transnational black feminist subject” by following her from Trinidad to the United States and United Kingdom to the Soviet Union (). Others have explored in depth Jones’s journalism in the United States and her importance for the “anticolonial front” in a prolonged period of anticommunist repression (see Cristina Mislán, “The Imperial ‘We’: Racial Justice, Nationhood, and Global War in Claudia Jones’s Weekly Review Editorials, –.” Journalism, , no.  []: –, and John Munro, The Anticolonial Front: The African American Freedom Struggle and Global Decolonization, – [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ], –). In Kennatta Hammond Perry’s account, Jones “embodied an intellectual trajectory that positioned Black women and their (re)productive labor at the center of liberatory possibilities” (London Is the Place for Me: Black Britons, Citizenship, and the Politics of Race [Oxford: Oxford University Press, ], ). Denise Lynn looks at precursor theorists for Jones, such as Anna Julia Cooper and Amy JacquesGarvey, while Paul Warmington traces a genealogy of Black British thought leading to Jones from Ignatius Sancho, Ottobah Cugoano, and Olaudah Equiano through George Padmore, Una Marson, and C. L. R. James (see Denise Lynn, “Socialist Feminism and Triple Oppression: Claudia Jones and African American Women in American Communism.” Journal for the Study of Radicalism, , no.  []: –, and Paul Warmington, Black British Intellectuals and Education [New York: Routledge, ]).  See Boyce Davies, Left of Karl Marx, –. Boyce Davies notes that “Elizabeth Gurley Flynn writes that Jones prepared for her departure by memorizing the poems that she had created and destroying the papers on which they were written, saving out one she had written to Elizabeth” (). Perry also discusses “Lament for Emmett Till” (London Is the Place, –).  Marika Sherwood, Claudia Jones: A Life in Exile (London: Lawrence & Wishart, ), –.  Rebecca Hill, “Fosterites and Feminists, or s Ultra-Leftists and the Invention of AmeriKKKa.” New Left Review,  (): .  Boyce Davies, Left of Karl Marx, xxiv–xxv.  Ibid., .  Ibid., .  Warmington, Black British Intellectuals and Education, .  Sherwood, Claudia Jones, .  Ibid., .  Boyce Davies, Left of Karl Marx, ; Sherwood Claudia Jones, .  Vijay Prashad, The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South (New York: Verso, ), .  Claudia Jones, “An End to the Neglect of the Problems of the Negro Woman!” Political Affairs (New York: National Women’s Commission, CPUSA, ), –.

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Radical Black Poetics and South–South Movement

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 Dayo F. Gore, Radicalism at the Crossroads: African American Women Activists in the Cold War (New York: New York University Press, ), –.  Jones, “End to the Neglect,” .  Ibid., .  Munro, Anticolonial Front, .  These poems are collected by Boyce Davies in Claudia Jones: Beyond Containment, ed. Carole Boyce Davies (Banbury: Ayebia Clarke, ), –. Boyce Davies notes that she has only been able to find fifteen poems so far but that “we can safely assume that there are more awaiting recovery” (Left of Karl Marx, ).  Keith, Unbecoming Americans, .  Claudia Jones, “Paean to the Atlantic.” In Beyond Containment, ed. Carole Boyce Davies (Banbury: Ayebia Clarke, ), –.  Ibid., –.  Claudia Jones, “Lament for Emmett Till.” In Beyond Containment, ed. Carole Boyce Davies (Banbury: Ayebia Clarke, ), .  Claudia Jones, “To Elizabeth Gurley Flynn.” In Beyond Containment, ed. Carole Boyce Davies (Banbury: Ayebia Clarke, ), .  Claudia Jones, “Clay Sculpture.” In Beyond Containment, ed. Carole Boyce Davies (Banbury: Ayebia Clarke, ), .  Boyce Davies, Left of Karl Marx, .  Claudia Jones, “Elms at Morn.” In Beyond Containment, ed. Carole Boyce Davies (Banbury: Ayebia Clarke, ), .  Boyce Davies, Left of Karl Marx, .  Jones, “Elms at Morn,” .  In Women, Race, and Class (New York: Vintage Books, ), Angela Y. Davis points out that “Claudia Jones chided progressives – and especially trade unionists – for failing to acknowledge Black domestic workers’ efforts to organize themselves” ().  Cristina Mislán, “Claudia Jones Speaks to ‘Half the World’: Gendering Cold War Politics in the Daily Worker, –.” Feminist Media Studies, , no.  (): .  Claudia Jones, “For Consuela – Anti-Fascista.” In Beyond Containment, ed. Carole Boyce Davies (Banbury: Ayebia Clarke, ), –.  In Boyce Davies’s reading, Jones challenges the intent of the government to “destroy the communication links within the Communist Party and to deliberately separate its organizers in the hope that this would then destroy the party’s organizing network.” Boyce Davies, Left of Karl Marx, .  Hill, “Fosterites and Feminists,” .  Boyce Davies, Left of Karl Marx, .  Ibid., .  Jones, “For Consuela – Anti-Fascista,” –.  Saidiya Hartman, “The Anarchy of Colored Girls Assembled in a Riotous Manner.” South Atlantic Quarterly, , no.  (): .

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

 

 Karl Marx, “Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of .” In The Marx Engels Reader, ed. Robert C. Tucker (New York: Norton, ), .  Hartman, “Anarchy of Colored Girls,” .  Boyce Davies, Left of Karl Marx, –.  Dorothy J. Wang, Thinking Its Presence: Form, Race, and Subjectivity in Contemporary Asian American Poetry (Redwood City: Stanford University Press, ), .  Fred Moten and Stefano Harney, “The University and the Undercommons: Seven Theses.” Social Text,  (): .

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Remembering the Uses of Diaspora, or Palestine Is Still the Issue Anthony C. Alessandrini

My title is a reference to Brent Hayes Edwards’s  essay “The Uses of Diaspora.” Edwards’s brilliant and foundational essay takes pains to note that its analysis is limited “to the politics of ‘diaspora’ in black historical work and cultural criticism,” since “the term marks a quite specific intervention in that arena, one that may not be subsumable into some overarching frame of inquiry.” I therefore hope that my own use of “The Uses of Diaspora” doesn’t subsume its argument to a larger pursuit in any simple way, since I will begin and end with Edwards’s important insights in order to make some more general points about the possible uses of “diaspora” in literary studies. In particular, I am concerned about the extent to which “diaspora” is one of a number of concepts that threatens to be swallowed up by the newly dominant institutional category of “world literature,” about what stands to be lost as a result, and how we might proceed differently. Back when Edwards’s article was published, I had recently completed a dissertation on South Asian diasporic literature and film – more specifically, on what I was trying to think about as the movement of culture, capital, and people between the nations of “South Asia” and the various sites that constituted the “South Asian diaspora.” It was a good time for trying to think in these terms; “diaspora” constituted a key concept for many of us working toward a critical method located both outside of conventional national traditions but also inside the histories of imperialism, slavery, settler colonialism, and global racism. Indeed, Edwards’s article was one of a number of contemporary pieces intended to address and complicate the rich and varied discussion flowing around the term “diaspora.” For example, in her  book Writing Diaspora, Rey Chow called upon critics to beware the “lure of diaspora”; Paul Gilroy’s The Black Atlantic, also published in , was, as Edwards notes, an effort to define the Black Atlantic against and in tension with contemporary notions of diaspora; and in an interview that same year, 

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Stuart Hall complicated the idea of himself as a “diasporic intellectual” by noting that the Caribbean community in the United Kingdom should be considered “the diaspora of the diaspora” – multiple and overlapping layers of imperial displacement, in other words, needed to be taken into account. Twenty years on, things have changed. Literary and cultural studies no longer has the same investment or interest in diaspora that it did at the turn of this century. Meanwhile, the growing institutional power of “world literature,” a category that has been marshalled to play a particular role in the neoliberal university, has led to a move away from the more radical internationalist framework that was central to the best work in diaspora studies. Forgetting diaspora, as I will argue in what follows, impoverishes our attempts to think of literature in an internationalist framework; my contribution is thus an attempt to assist in the act of remembering. Over the past decade, I’ve been tracking the way “World Literature” is being taught. While an unscientific survey of syllabi isn’t exactly “evidence,” one thing that I can assert with some confidence is that many of the writers read in such classes could be differently described as diasporic writers. One representative World Literature syllabus – a survey of literature from Latin America, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and the United States – features the work of Ha Jin, Haruki Murakami, Kiran Desai, Junot Díaz, Edwidge Danticat, Jhumpa Lahiri, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Chris Abani, and Yu Hua. None of these writers should be classified in some simple way as “diasporic,” but I would maintain that nearly all of them could be productively approached using the framework of diaspora as it once existed in literary studies. The same could be said for other writers who are ubiquitous on World Literature syllabi, including J. M. Coetzee, Amitav Ghosh, Jamaica Kincaid, Michael Ondaatje, Ruth Ozeki, Orhan Pamuk, Salman Rushdie, and Marjane Satrapi. One could quibble over whether all of these writers qualify as “diasporic”; what I’ll argue, however, is that reading their work through a larger framework of “diaspora” provides us with important advantages over the current institutional understanding of them as “world writers.” It also allows us a chance to admit the work of writers who don’t fit the current prerequisites of “world literature”; in particular, I’ll make a case for reading Palestinian literature diasporically as a move toward a world literature that reads work not just “globally,” but with an eye toward internationalism. I won’t rehearse the many critical debates around “world literature”; actually, I’m more interested in the very fact of these debates, as evidence of where our attention has turned. Rather, let’s turn to the role that world

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literature plays in the neoliberal university, more specifically as part of the institutional formation I call “austerity multiculturalism.” Jodi Melamed’s analysis of the uses of “global literature” is particularly relevant here. Melamed notes a major role played by literary studies within the twin contexts of US empire and domestic regimes of racial capitalism, a role that consists of acquainting elite students “with representations of dispossessed populations, preparing them for their role in global civilizing/disqualifying regimes.” On the local level, as Hazel Carby argued in a brilliant series of essays in the s, this has meant having elite students read narratives of Black lives while assenting to (and sometimes actively taking part in) structural violence against Black communities. A contemporary version of this dynamic can be found in what Lauren Michele Jackson calls “The Anti-Racist Reading List,” whose ostensible purpose is to “educate” white people about racism but whose ultimate effect, as Jackson acidly notes, is to encourage white readers “to read black art zoologically.” But what about the global level? Cue the institutional category of “global literature,” which in Melamed’s words “seems to refer to multicultural literature that has been expanded to include non-Western literature, especially new fiction written by authors located in or originally from the global South.” The usefulness of the category of “global literature” arises precisely “out of its promise to make non-Western cultures readily available.” More specifically, reading “global literature” prepares students for their future role in US imperialism, by assuring them that “what we need to know about ‘them’ is that they are much like us, at least those eligible for global multicultural citizenship.” As a necessary result of this demand, certain literary texts are called upon to bear the representative burden for a particular nation (“Indian literature”), race (“African-American literature”), culture (“literatures of the Asian diaspora”), and/or religious community (“literatures of the Islamic world”). This is the institutional reading practice I have come to think of as “one-of-eachism,” in which an individual literary work comes to be considered not as a novel from India but as the novel from India – or, in other cases, the novel from the Caribbean, or the novel from Africa, or the novel from “the Islamic World,” and so on. This in turn creates a handful of writers – many writing in English, a few skillfully translated – granted the title of “world writers,” who are accordingly omnipresent on world literature syllabi. “World literature” as an institutional category thus functions according to the nominally “transnational” capitalist logic described by Khachig Tölölyan: “transnationalist elites are less in need of nation-states than of

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 . 

‘countries’: minimally administered spaces where local factotums supervise properly segmented labor and consumer markets . . . and [make] no attempt to guard jealously either weak and emergent indigenous industries, or local and in some ways residual cultures.” These are the spaces elite students in the United States are being trained to oversee; world literature classes oblige by breaking up the “world” of literature into “countries” – with one novel per country, to keep things simple. The best theorists of world literature pose their work against this tendency to create a buffet of texts that neatly divide the world into easily consumable literary “countries.” For example, Gloria Fisk’s Orhan Pamuk and the Good of World Literature challenges the instrumentalist use of global literature in the US academy, focusing on Pamuk’s work in part because his novels are too often read via a logic by which “a novel gains its value from the view it gives its readers on worlds they would find hard to see without a local and literary guide” and the “greatness” of the world writer is measured in terms of “the information he conveys.” Rebecca Walkowitz’s influential book Born Translated: The Contemporary Novel in an Age of World Literature also takes up the work of Pamuk – along with an array of contemporary novelists whose work she describes as “born translated” novels – posing his fiction as interrupting the institutional tendency of world literature “to make guidebooks or cultural primers out of literary works from representative spaces.” Walkowitz’s framework for approaching world literature, borne out by her virtuosic readings of individual novels, aims primarily to interrupt the tradition of “world literature” as a container for various national literatures: When world literature seems to be a container for various national languages, it privileges source: distinct geographies, countable languages, individual genius, designated readers, and the principle of possessive collectivism. When world literature seems instead to be a series of emerging works, not a product but a process, it privileges target: the analysis of convergences and divergences across literary histories.

There is much to like in this approach. But my concern is that Walkowitz, like others working with the category of “world literature” today, doesn’t ultimately challenge the more insidious elements of the neoliberal category of “global literature.” While her work pushes against the privileging of “national” literatures within more traditional comparative models, I agree with Yogita Goyal’s perceptive point that this is based more on “Walkowitz’s assumption that born-translated works impel an antinational politics” than it is on any real critique of the neoliberal uses of “world

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literature” as a category. As a result, what is left out of the framework of theorists of world literature such as Walkowitz and Fisk (including what I’ll stubbornly call the question of Palestine) threatens to prevent literary studies from realizing a truly internationalist perspective. Let’s stay for a moment with the work of Orhan Pamuk, who bore the title of “world writer” even before he won the Nobel Prize in  – although, as Fisk shows, often despite rather than because of the work being done in his novels. The reception of Pamuk’s novels exemplifies the institutional approach to “global” non-Western writers; a line from Margaret Atwood’s review of Pamuk’s novel Snow shows how this operates: Pamuk, she writes, “is narrating his country into being.” This would no doubt come as a surprise to Pamuk himself, and to countless other writers from Turkey who likely believe they may also have played some part in narrating the nation, but it gives a good indication of the pressure placed on the “world writer” to represent their nation for a Western audience. In terms of institutional “one-of-eachism,” when it comes to a “world writer” such as Pamuk, the jump is from being read as “a writer from Turkey” to coming to be placed in the position of “the Turkish writer.” Snow thus becomes, depending on the context, an introduction to Turkey, to the Middle East, or perhaps even to that massive and massively misrepresented entity called “the Islamic world.” The demand upon such novels could be summarized as: “Tell us some stories about that distant place so we can better understand it.” This is a standard move for neoliberal multiculturalism, a key element of what Avery Gordon calls “diversity management.” Angela Davis argues that neoliberal multiculturalism aims not just to “manage” difference but to establish a context in which “difference doesn’t make any difference, if only we acquire knowledge about it.” As both a theorist of and an object of diversity management, Davis spells out the inevitable consequences: “If our difference is understood, consumed, and ‘digested,’ we simultaneously can be different and perform ‘as if’ we were really middle-class, straight white males. Difference as object of ‘distaste,’ ‘dislike,’ or ‘hate’ must be transformed into difference as object of knowledge.” In the case of world writers, as an extension of the reading practice brought to bear on other “minority” writers, that means mining their work for “educational purposes, racism and homophobia and stuff,” in Lauren Michele Jackson’s words, so that ultimately they can “perform ‘as if’” they were American or European – that is “regular” – writers. As an admirer of Pamuk’s work, I absolutely agree that his novels provide us an opportunity to interrupt this program of diversity

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management. But there’s also the disturbing role that none other but President George W. Bush played in establishing Pamuk as a “world writer.” On a visit to Turkey in  to drum up support for the continuing occupation of Iraq, Bush ended a speech on “democracy and freedom” by referring to “the Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk,” whose work “has been a bridge between cultures,” allowing us “to realize that other peoples in other continents and civilizations are exactly like you.” The chilling geopolitical consequences of this sentiment become clear in the final sentence of Bush’s speech: “in their need for hope, in their desire for peace, in their right to freedom, the peoples of the Middle East are exactly like you and me. Their birthright of freedom has been denied for too long. And we will do all in our power to help them find the blessings of liberty.” In the name of such multicultural oneness, Iraq was destroyed. In this way, the seemingly benign logic of multiculturalism was called upon to underwrite the greatest crime of the twenty-first century (so far). Bush’s hijacking of Pamuk to defend his “global war on terror” should in no way be blamed on Pamuk’s work. Fisk strikes the right note: “It is not Orhan Pamuk’s fault that George W. Bush praised him on his visit to Turkey during the war on Iraq, but it is not insignificant either.” Her further point is that Bush’s invocation “testifies to Pamuk’s symbolic value as a lever to make the Middle East tilt in a Western direction.” That’s true as far as it goes, but there is a deeper and more disturbing level to this use of the “world writer” in the context of US empire. Here we might return to Jodi Melamed’s point: a major role played by “global literature” in the neoliberal university is to teach elite students useful lessons about the “others” of this empire – specifically, to teach them that “what we need to know about ‘them’ is that they are much like us, at least those eligible for global multicultural citizenship.” After all, some of these elites-intraining will someday have to help decide which populations need to be bombed into oblivion in order for them to “find the blessings of liberty.” In this context, Walkowitz’s suggestion that world literature should privilege “target” rather than “source” comes to look very different. Of course her use of “target” and “source” here comes from the way these terms are used in translation; indeed, one of the major journals in the field of translation studies is titled, simply, Target. But, viewed from those sites that are the literal targets of US empire, that word resounds quite differently. Walkowitz provides an incredibly useful framework for considering a limited but significant body of literature, and for pushing against the privileging of national traditions. But like other models of world literature, when stretched to take in those sites that continue to be “targeted” by

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Western imperialism, its limitations are revealed. There are targets, and then there are targets. This is my cue to return to “The Uses of Diaspora,” since Brent Hayes Edwards’s theorization of diaspora can provide us with a different, and ultimately more internationalist, model for thinking about world literature. Edwards proposes viewing diaspora through the lens of décalage, a term that resists translation: it can be rendered variously as “gap,” “discrepancy,” “time lag,” or “interval,” and French speakers sometimes use it to mean “jet lag.” Edwards notes that the root verb caler means “to prop up” – for example, adding a wedge to even out the crooked legs of a table. Décalage, then, is best seen as “reestablishing a prior unevenness or diversity” through the “taking away of something that was added in the first place.” Décalage, Edwards concludes, is a changing core of difference; it is the work of “differences within unity,” an unidentifiable point that is incessantly touched and fingered and pressed . . . Like a table with legs of different lengths, or a tilted bookcase, diaspora can be discursively propped up (calé) into an artificially “even” or “balanced” state of “racial” belonging. But such props, of rhetoric, strategy, or organization, are always articulations of unity or globalism, ones that can be “mobilized” for a variety of purposes but can never be definitive: they are always prosthetic.

The approach taken by Walkowitz and other theorists of world literature has as one of its intended goals the refusal to subsume differences. But, despite their best intentions, they often wind up doing the sort of work Edwards writes against here: a propping up or evening out that allows for the illusion of a whole. Goyal is right to caution that such an approach holds the danger of “return[ing] anglophone readers to their comfort with Ishiguro and Coetzee, with the added certainty that all the world’s difference is always already contained therein.” And, as we’ve seen, the institutional work done by the category of “world literature” in the neoliberal university doesn’t even pretend to value the sorts of differences articulated by Walkowitz; rather, its goal is to render the “global” into bite-sized pieces – preferably using the category of “countries,” but going larger if need be (“the Islamic world”) – to reassure elites that crudely racist understandings of “us” and “them” can be undone through the process of reading and learning about “them” – as long as “they” agree to speak “our” language, of course. So let’s kick out the props steadying the wobbly category of “world literature,” and see what remains. That’s another way of saying: let’s see what happens when we return to diaspora as décalage as a step toward practicing internationalist literary studies.

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One thing we might discover is that the purest form of diasporic décalage is found in texts that expand the traditional model of diaspora, a model that originally signified dispersion from one’s homeland but today is more likely to mean dislocation from one’s nation-state. Think again of Stuart Hall’s notion of Caribbean communities in Britain as “the diaspora of the diaspora,” or of Jamaica Kincaid, another doubly diasporized writer from the Caribbean, expressing her sense of subjectivity, even in the “homeland,” as that of an orphan: “no motherland, no fatherland, no gods, no mounds of earth for holy ground, no excess of love which might lead to the things that an excess of love sometimes brings, and worse and most painful of all, no tongue.” Then there is the case of the writer diasporized not because they crossed a border but because the border crossed them. In the Americas, Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera is the best account we have. Anzaldúa’s genre-defying book of course has much to say about the creative possibilities that arise in borderlands, but she doesn’t let us forget the murderousness of the border itself: “The US–Mexican border es una herida abierta where the Third World grates against the first and bleeds.” This open wound, moreover, is also a moveable line: following the war of , los norteamericanos pushed the Texas border  miles south; , Mexican citizens suddenly found themselves “exiles” from their country without ever leaving their houses. Mahmoud Darwish would likely have recognized his own condition reflected in that of his fellow “exiled” poet Gloria Anzaldúa, just as he would all too surely recognize the claim for the stolen land made by William Harris Wharton, a colonial statesman sometimes described, without irony, as an “early Texan”: “The justice and benevolence of God will forbid that . . . Texas should again become a howling wilderness trod only by savages . . . The wilderness of Texas has been redeemed by AngloAmerican blood & enterprise.” Darwish’s line about his condition as a Palestinian born in a place whose name was subsequently removed from the colonizer’s map shares Anzaldúa’s sense of the enigma of nonarrival: “I have been in this country even before the state that negates my existence came into being.” “This is my home,” Anzaldúa replies, this thin edge of barbwire. . . . This land was Mexican once, was Indian always and is. And will be again.

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The irony that adheres here is precisely that found in Tölölyan’s account of diaspora itself, which since the nineteenth century has found itself defined almost exclusively by its relationship (or lack thereof ) to nation-states – even though the notion of diaspora existed centuries before nation-states were ever thought of. Palestinian literature in this sense is almost by definition diaspora literature, just as Palestinian existence is an experience of expulsion and exile not just from homeland but from any sense of self. Edward Said’s description of the “formal instability” of Palestinian literature applies here; as he notes, the characteristic mode is that of “broken narratives, fragmentary compositions, and self-consciously staged testimonials, in which the narrative voice keeps stumbling over itself, its obligations, and its limitations.” The form attests to reality even more acutely than the “content” of these works; Palestinian literature, Said concludes “in a certain very narrow sense is the elusive, resistant reality it tries so often to represent.” Building on Said’s observation, Aamir Mufti describes the need for Palestinian artists to thematize at the level of form “the judgement that they come from nowhere” – that is, from the “nonexistent” place that was and is and will be again “Palestine.” Mufti notes the example of Elia Suleiman’s film Divine Intervention, which was denied the right to compete in the “best foreign film” category of the Oscars as the entry for Palestine on the grounds that such a country did not exist. Mourid Barghouti describes a similar experience of finding himself listed in the table of contents of an international journal as “Mourid Barghouti – Palestinian Authority.” When he questioned the use of “Palestinian authority” as a place, the editors explained to him that this phrasing was necessary because “there was no country called Palestine.” The blame for the erasure of the name “Palestine,” Barghouti concludes, does not fall on Israel alone; “it is the world” that bears responsibility. We might ponder how this accusation might fall upon the field of world literature as well. Palestinian literature does not have a place on the reading lists of institutional multiculturalism, nor is it generally part of the critical discussions around world literature. One notable exception is Emily Apter, and, indeed, her essay “Translation at the Checkpoint” explicitly questions the notion of a “soft, hospitable border” that characterizes world literature’s desired global literary ecosystem. She refocuses our attention instead upon the “hard borders” of the world, like the checkpoints that define Palestinian life, as portrayed in the work of Palestinian artists like Khaled Jarrar, Emily Jacir, Annemarie Jacir, and Elia Suleiman. Stubbornly, in the spirit of diaspora as décalage, I suggest that Palestinian literature

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

 . 

provides a necessary interruption to the too-easily globalizing tendencies of world literature, while also opening up an opportunity to think ourselves toward a truly internationalist literary studies. As Apter notes, Said himself chafed against the term “Palestinian diaspora,” largely because of how the classic notion of Diaspora had been instrumentalized by the Israeli state (Stuart Hall long resisted the term for the same reason). I hope Said might not object too strongly to my use of diaspora as décalage to think about Palestinian literature in an internationalist context. To be forced to leave, to become a refugee, is of course to be thrust into the diaspora, but so is remaining behind in what was but is no longer allowed to be called “Palestine.” In some cases, that meant expulsion from one’s home within the  borders to become a refugee in the West Bank or Gaza. For others, it was more like Anzaldúa’s sense of having the border cross you: without having left, you have lost your home, and with it, the ability to consider the place to be “yours” in any meaningful (including legal) sense. This is the existential condition brilliantly portrayed in the films of Elia Suleiman. The classic novel of this internal “diaspora” is Emile Habiby’s The Secret Life of Saeed the Pessoptimist, whose protagonist remains in his home city of Haifa after the nakba. The searing metaphor Habiby provides comes via a nightmare: Saeed finds himself sitting on top of an immeasurably tall stake, surrounded by a chasm on all sides. He tries to image his condition as like “those Indian magicians who send up a rope far into the air,” climb into the clouds, and then return to earth unharmed. But in reality, he concludes “I was no Indian magician, just an Arab who had remained, by some magic, in Israel.” From this position, Habiby’s character nevertheless sallies forth to offer his own reminders of existence as resistance. In one episode, Saeed is jailed for flying a white flag of surrender, which the Israeli authorities interpret as a flag of rebellion – eloquently attesting to the way in which the imposition of Israeli citizenship (of a limited and unequal sort) upon Palestinians who remained is its own form of occupation. In a quieter mode, as we follow Saeed’s peripatetic journeys, the novel painstakingly documents the names of “lost” Palestinian villages taken over and destroyed by the new state, ensuring that their names, gone from the maps, have not disappeared from our political imagination. And then there is the aching existence of the descendants of families that fled during the war of  and then returned home, only to find themselves declared neither citizens nor noncitizen residents: in short, the absurd but very real category of the “present absentee.” Mahmoud Darwish has been the greatest chronicler of this existential state, the far end

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

of the spectrum of diaspora as décalage. In Journal of an Ordinary Grief, he describes the inevitable depersonalization of the present absentee: “Here, I’m not a citizen, and I’m not a resident either. Then where and who am I? . . . You ask the Ministry of the Interior, ‘Am I here, or am I absent? Give me an expert in philosophy, so that I can prove to him I exist.’ Then you realize that philosophically you exist but legally you do not.” There are also the cases of multiple displacements, like the poet Mourid Barghouti. Barghouti’s memoirs, I Saw Ramallah and I Was Born There, I Was Born Here, describe his experience of being “struck by displacement”: while attending university in Cairo in , he found himself barred after the war from returning home (I Saw Ramallah narrates his first journey back after thirty years, in the wake of the Oslo Agreements). Then, in the early s, Barghouti was expelled from Egypt by Sadat’s government in the run up to the Camp David accords; while Barghouti had not been politically active, his presence as a Palestinian was no longer to be tolerated. After that, he writes “From Baghdad to Beirut to Budapest to Amman to Cairo again. It was impossible to hold on to a particular location. If my will clashed with the owner of a place, it was always my will that was exposed to breaking.” “Displacement is like death,” he adds. “One thinks it happens only to other people . . . A person gets ‘displacement’ as he gets asthma, and there is no cure for either.” A phone call he receives from his brother announcing the death of a relative in Beirut allows Barghouti to spell out the painful cartography imposed upon his family: “Mounif is calling me in America from Qatar about Fahim’s martyrdom in Beirut and burial in Kuwait, and about the necessity of informing Sitti Umm `Ata in Deir Ghassanah and his maternal grandmother in Nablus and my mother in Jordan. Radwa and I are confirming our tickets to return to Cairo via Rome.” As Edward Said writes in After the Last Sky, “Wherever we Palestinians are, we are not in our Palestine, which no longer exists.” One of the key concerns of world literature is distance – more particularly, what holds the world together, and whether literature has the capacity to bring us closer. Thinking “distance” from Palestine teaches us many lessons. “This is a fact,” Barghouti writes “the Occupation changes distances.” There is a completely material sense to this distortion of distances: the first chapter of I Was Born There, I Was Born Here is the account of a taxi ride from Ramallah to Jericho – a distance of a little over fifteen miles – that takes a full day, due to Israeli checkpoints (installed precisely to make such journeys impossible) that the driver skillfully evades. But there is a metaphysical aspect as well:

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

 .  The soldier at the checkpoint confiscates my papers because he doesn’t like the look of me for some reason and the distance between me and my identity becomes the distance between his pleasure and my displeasure. The solider of the Occupation stands on a piece of land he has confiscated and calls it “here” and I, its owner, exiled to a distant country, have to call it “there”.

Palestinian texts teach us that “distance” is not an objective thing to be measured and traversed. “If I could do anything for you, anywhere in Palestine, what would it be?” is the question that sets in motion Emily Jacir’s Where We Come From, a series of texts and photos that capture her carrying out the wishes of Palestinian exiles, made possible by the mobility afforded by her US passport. In one case, a man living in Bethlehem asks her to visit his mother’s grave in Jerusalem, just a few miles away: he had been denied access to the city by Israeli authorities, but she, though coming from New York, can cover the distance (as evidenced by the resulting photograph of her shadow falling across the grave). Which is the larger distance? “My house is just there,” insists the protagonist of Farah Nabulsi’s The Present, pointing his finger toward a spot just beyond the checkpoint which, throughout the entire film, thwarts his very ability to live his life. How do we approach this uncrossable distance? In I Was Born There, I Was Born Here, Mourid Barghouti presents us with a surreal but stirring image: a bevy of giants from the world of literature – Wole Soyinka, José Saramago, Juan Goytisolo, Breyten Breytenbach, Vincenzo Consolo, Bei Dao – picking their way carefully through a rocky trench. They are part of a delegation visiting Palestine in ; in order to travel to Birzeit University, they disembark at the Surda checkpoint and continue on foot, since the Israeli army has destroyed the only road leading to the university by digging a deep, -meter-long trench. Barghouti tries to keep up his conversation about theater with Soyinka, while the distinguished group trudges on “with the caution of the elderly, returning the greetings of the students, teachers, and traveling salesmen who walk beside them, for this rough trench is the only road for those traveling between Ramallah and the villages of the north.” They pass a young man carrying an old woman on his back, an old woman leading a donkey loaded with suitcases, and another donkey ridden by a pregnant woman and led by a young boy, who “looks around, bemused at finding foreign faces in this corner of the world.” Saramago pauses to declare, quite simply: “this reminds me of a concentration camp”; in a subsequent interview, he puts it this way: “All the world’s bells have to be rung so that it can know that what is happening here is a crime that must stop.”

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To this list of distinguished figures choosing to “walk beside” Palestinians through the trench that makes a diaspora of Palestine, we can add those of many other “world writers” who have joined in this work of ringing all the world’s bells: John Berger, Junot Díaz, Angela Davis, Carolyn Forché, Arundhati Roy, Kamila Shamsie, Teju Cole, Meena Alexander, and June Jordan. From such journeys through the trenches and from such lists of names, we might begin to find a different concept with which to construct the category of world literature: solidarity. In speaking of world literature by speaking of the Palestinian diaspora, I am not asking us to engage in some simple act of romanticizing (although frankly neither should we fear the accusation of “romanticizing” – if we who write about literature don’t allow ourselves to sometimes romanticize, we might as well be quantitative-driven political scientists). The logic of a world literature held together by solidarity is the same unshakeable logic articulated by Black feminists, as set out in the Combahee River Collective Statement: “If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all the systems of oppression.” Here there are no “born translated” texts to guide us; the distances to be navigated are difficult ones, but we have guides like June Jordan to light our way: I was born a Black woman and now I am become a Palestinian against the relentless laughter of evil there is less and less living room and where are my loved ones? It is time to make our way home.

We find guidance, too, in the words of Fred Moten, who, in speaking for the academic and cultural boycott called by and in solidarity with Palestinians, declares that he does so “precisely because I am committed to the insurgent alternative, whose refreshment is (in) the anti-national international. The terms of that commitment are nothing more than another way of saying that I am committed to the black radical tradition.” From that commitment, he asks a question I will simply repeat by way of conclusion: “how might discourses of globalization and, more pointedly, of diaspora become more than just another mode of turning away from the very idea of the international?” The swallowing up of radical diasporic reading practices by “world literature,” and the subsequent weaponization of that category by the neoliberal university, threatens to subsume the

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 . 

insurgent alternative(s) to which Moten calls us. Remembering the uses of diaspora as décalage, by contrast, allows us to engage with the question of how literary studies can turn back toward the international – which, as I’ve tried to suggest, is also the question of Palestine – as the first step toward practicing a truly internationalist world literature.

Notes  Brent Hayes Edwards, “The Uses of Diaspora.” Social Text, , no.  (): –.  Ibid., .  Rey Chow, Writing Diaspora: Tactics of Intervention in Contemporary Cultural Studies (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, ); Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, ); Stuart Hall, “The Formation of a Diasporic Intellectual: An Interview with Stuart Hall by Kuan-Hsing Chen.” In Essential Essays Volume : Identity and Diaspora, ed. David Morley (Durham: Duke University Press, ), –.  As I hope will become clear in the analysis that follows, I am making a distinction between a diasporic reading practice – which I see as a way to address Palestinian literature as a whole, whether it is produced by writers living in historical Palestine or in the large and disparate Palestinian diaspora – versus simply reading specifically diasporic writers. This is in part a response to the tendency of world literature, as it is currently practiced, to privilege the work of writers working in diasporic locations in an unmarked way, by designating them as “world writers.”  This term, and a number of the points that follow, are worked out in much greater detail in my book Decolonize Multiculturalism (New York: OR Books, ).  Jodi Melamed, Represent and Destroy: Rationalizing Violence in the New Racial Capitalism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, ), –.  Hazel Carby, Cultures in Babylon: Black Britain and African America (New York: Verso, ), .  Lauren Michele Jackson, “What Is an Anti-Racist Reading List For?” Vulture, June , , available at: www.vulture.com///anti-racist-reading-lists-what-are-they-for.html (last accessed August , ).  Melamed, Represent and Destroy, .  Khachig Tölölyan, “Rethinking Diaspora(s): Stateless Power in the Transnational Moment.” Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, , no.  (): .  Gloria Fisk, Orhan Pamuk and the Good of World Literature (New York: Columbia University Press, ), –.

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 Rebecca L. Walkowitz, Born Translated: The Contemporary Novel in an Age of World Literature (New York: Columbia University Press, ), –.  Ibid., .  Yogita Goyal, “Translation and Its Discontents.” Novel: A Forum on Fiction, , no.  (): –.  Margaret Atwood, “Headscarves to Die For.” New York Times, August , , available at: www.nytimes.com////books/headscarves-to-diefor.html (last accessed August , ).  Avery Gordon, “The Work of Corporate Culture: Diversity Management.” Social Text,  (): –.  Angela Y. Davis, “Gender, Class, and Multiculturalism: Rethinking ‘Race’ Politics.” In Mapping Multiculturalism, ed. Avery F. Gordon and Christopher Newfield (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, ), .  Ibid., .  Jackson, “What Is an Anti-Racist Reading List For?”  “President Bush Discusses Democracy, Freedom from Turkey,” Official White House Press Release, June , , available at: https://georgew bush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases///-.html (last accessed August , )  Fisk, Orhan Pamuk and the Good of World Literature, .  Melamed, Represent and Destroy, .  Edwards, “Uses of Diaspora,” –.  Goyal, “Translation and Its Discontents,” .  Jamaica Kincaid, A Small Place (New York: Penguin, ), .  Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, ), .  Quoted in ibid., .  Mahmoud Darwish, Journal of an Ordinary Grief, trans. Ibrahim Muhawi (Brooklyn: Archipelago Books, ), .  Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera, .  Tölölyan, “Rethinking Diaspora(s),” .  Edward W. Said and Jean Mohr, After the Last Sky (London: Faber and Faber, ), .  Aamir Mufti, “The Missing Homeland of Edward Said.” In Conflicting Humanities, ed. Rosi Braidotti and Paul Gilroy (New York: Bloomsbury, ), –.  Mourid Barghouti, I Was Born There, I Was Born Here, trans. Humphrey Davies (New York: Walker & Company, ), –.  Emily Apter, “Translation at the Checkpoint.” Journal of Postcolonial Writing, , no.  (): –; see also her chapter “Checkpoints and Sovereign Borders.” In Against World Literature: On the Politics of Untranslatability (New York: Verso, ), –.  Apter, Against World Literature, ; Said, After the Last Sky, ; “The Formation of a Diasporic Intellectual,” . For a brilliant extended analysis of Hall, Palestine, and diaspora, see Chapter , by Keith Feldman.

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

 . 

 Emile Habiby, The Secret Life of Saeed the Pessoptimist, trans. Salma Khadra Jayyusi and Trevor Le Gassick (New York: Interlink Books, ), –.  For a fine reading of Habiby’s novel in terms of our contemporary political moment, see Anjuli Raza Kolb, “Pessoptimism of the Will: On the Absurd Fictions of Emile Habiby.” Boston Review, February , , available at: www.bostonreview.net/literature-culture-arts-society/anjuli-raza-kolb-pessop timism-will (last accessed August , ).  Darwish, Journal of an Ordinary Grief, .  Mourid Barghouti, I Saw Ramallah, trans. Ahdaf Soueif (New York: Anchor Books, ), .  Ibid., –.  Ibid., .  Said and Mohr, After the Last Sky, .  Barghouti, I Was Born There, I Was Born Here, –.  See TJ Demos, “Desire in Diaspora: Emily Jacir.” Art Journal, , no.  (): –.  See Carly A. Krakow, “A Path with No Alternative: A Review of Farah Nabulsi’s The Present.” Jadaliyya, December , , available at: www .jadaliyya.com/Details/ (last accessed August , ).  Barghouti, I Was Born There, I Was Born Here, –, .  “The Combahee River Collective: A Black Feminist Statement.” In Capitalist Patriarchy and the Case for Socialist Feminism, ed. Zillah R. Eisenstein (New York: Monthly Review Press, ); see also Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, “Until Black Women Are Free, None of Us Will Be Free.” New Yorker, July , , available at: www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/untilblack-women-are-free-none-of-us-will-be-free (last accessed August , ).  June Jordan, “Moving towards Home.” In Living Room: New Poems (New York: Persea Books, ).  Fred Moten, Stolen Life (Durham: Duke University Press, ), . The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) was launched by Palestinian academic and civil society organizations in , building on decades of work to defend academic freedom in Palestine, such as the Right to Education campaign at Birzeit University. The boycott has of course been a topic of contention in the US academy: for example, in the debate around the adoption of the boycott by the American Studies Association and then the decision of the Modern Language Association to essentially outlaw discussion of the boycott. Given Moten’s (and my) advocacy for the boycott as a component of a renewed internationalism, it is worth addressing one of the most common misperceptions wielded against it by opponents, especially by my fellow humanists: that it targets individual Israeli academics and thereby makes critical exchanges impossible. This is absolutely false: the academic boycott targets Israeli institutions that uphold and enable the Occupation and practices of apartheid; at the same time, the guidelines of the boycott state clearly that it is not aimed at individual Israeli scholars: “Mere affiliation of Israeli scholars to an Israeli

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academic institution is therefore not grounds for applying the boycott” (“PACBI Guidelines for the International Academic Boycott of Israel,” italics in original). Willful misunderstandings aside, the willingness of colleagues in literary studies to defend the potential (and ultimately fictional) threat to Israeli academic freedom while completely ignoring the decades-long assault upon Palestinian academic freedom smacks of racism and reveals something other than a thirst for critical discussions of the issue. As the late Israeli scholar Tanya Reinhart – one of the earliest supporters of the academic boycott of Israel – scathingly concluded in : “The first step in promoting dialogue would be to remove Israeli tanks from the gates of Palestinian universities.” Tanya Reinhart, “Academic Boycott: In Support of Paris VI.” ZNet (February , ).  Huge thanks to Angela Naimou for her insightful comments on this essay, and in particular for her reminder that what I’m trying to describe here is indeed a form of practice.

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 

Refugee Ecologies Narratives of Water in Vietnamese Diaspora Marguerite Nguyen

Every day, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports increasing numbers of people on the move, with  million out of . million forcibly displaced persons officially classified as refugees. At the same time, the UNHCR states a commitment to ending statelessness by , an ambitious and implausible goal that reinforces the flawed premise that refugees are temporary – exceptions, not a norm, of modern political life. As scholars in critical refugee studies emphasize, it is essential that we understand refugeehood as an enduring, permanent phenomenon, particularly for populations of the global South who are forced to migrate due to long-term political upheaval and resource shortages caused by centuries of colonial and neocolonial capitalism and violence. The emergence of critical refugee studies has helped to center long histories of refugee displacement that reveal differences and resonances among varied refugee contexts. What is crucial for the field is the foregrounding of narratives by refugees in order to counterweigh the oftenobjectifying cast of social scientific research, which tends to eclipse the complex cultures, histories, politics, and lived experiences of refugee subjects. This essay suggests that one way to continue building the field of critical refugee studies, and its accompanying concerns of transnationalism and diaspora, is through an ecocritical approach that more pointedly focuses on the role of literary environments in depicting refugees and refugeehood. Rather than discuss refugee depictions primarily in terms of the refugee figure, what might we better understand if we concentrate also on the environments that produce who we imagine refugees to be? I develop “refugee ecology” as an analytic for interpreting refugee narratives to understand how aesthetics of environment determine such representations and their effects. As Peter Nyers states, the refugee is not some ontogenetic figure but a construction, and its meanings depend on how it relates to what surrounds 

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Refugee Ecologies

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it. The refugee reads differently depending on how and where they are situated. Attending to refugee ecologies, or refugees’ active and relational connections to surroundings, reveals much about how refugees both see and transform their environment. Rather than try to make a comprehensive, totalizing statement about how refugee ecologies work, this essay considers how water, specifically, has long acted as a stage and agent in Southeast Asian refugee stories. I begin with a short reading of the figure of Mohammed Shohayet – a Rohingyan child who drowned in the Naf River between Bangladesh and Myanmar in  – to comment briefly on how water works as a narrative force in mass media by rendering refugees as utterly vulnerable against powerful aqueous forces, which dehistoricizes and depoliticizes these situations. I then show how such ideological tactics can be placed within a genealogy that includes refugee displacement following the Vietnam War, a mass media event in which the UNHCR and news outlets typically depicted asylum seekers as desperate, helpless, and dependent on Euro-American countries and international organizations for the “gift of freedom” and promise of citizenship. These images strategically utilized the environment to communicate such messages, with seas and oceans representing unstable surfaces that refugees had to cross before reaching the supposed safety and political legibility of nonVietnamese land. I then pivot to a reading of the sea in Nam Le’s critically-praised story of Vietnam War migration, “The Boat,” to analyze its alternative refugee ecology and understand the complexity Le gives to water as itself a protagonist. Here, water is a shape-shifting substance – variably a source of sustenance, a space of danger and death, a political weapon, and a site of refugee loss, memory, and historicization. On the one hand, Le’s characters’ relationships to water underscore the contingency of refugee life relative to the environment, particularly the sea. On the other hand, a reading attuned to ecological dynamics compels linking refugeehood to long Southeast Asian histories of water-based epistemologies, opening up the story’s temporal and spatial expanse and foreclosing reduction of refugee literature to the exceptionality of refugeehood as perpetuated by the UNHCR and mass media. Reading “refugee” and “environment” together helps to ensure that the environmental humanities gives due attention to colonial and intersectional histories and, perhaps, offers a way to historicize different refugee contexts while remaining open to comparative analyses of refugeehood. By drawing attention to entwined experiential, environmental, and juridical dimensions, literary analyses of refugee ecologies can advance understandings of how refugees make and

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 

are made by their surroundings and specify the cultural and political construction of refugeehood. While scholars continue to debate whether the term “refugee” should apply strictly or capaciously to diverse examples of forced migration, I experiment with enlisting the term expansively in this essay while asserting the need to contextualize it. The splintering of refugee (initially applied to over , French Huguenots, or réfugiés, who fled France for Protestant England after the  Edict of Nantes revoked their religious liberties) into multiple terms such as asylum seeker, economic migrant, bogus refugees, and illegal migrant can mask the fact that the reasons why people migrate may not fall squarely into categories of “force” or “choice.” As Vinh Nguyen writes, there is “deep arbitrariness in the system: some individuals escaping political turmoil and forms of violence are deemed refugees and others are just migrants, even when there is much experiential overlap.” Valeria Luiselli expresses a similar sentiment in her analysis of unaccompanied children who migrate across the US–Mexico border fleeing conflict: “The children who cross Mexico and arrive at the US border are not ‘immigrants,’ not ‘illegals,’ not merely ‘undocumented minors.’ Those children are refugees of a war, and, as such, they should all have the right to asylum.” Mobilizing “refugee” can keep the right to refuge as envisioned by refugees at the forefront, regardless of whether migrants are legally recognized or not. Furthermore, a wide “refugee” lens can be an effective way of figuring out the term’s limits, of determining where and how the term may fall short.

Refugee–Water Ecologies in Mass Media In December , the body of sixteen-month-old Mohammed Shohayet, a Rohingyan boy, was found in mud on the bank of the Naf River. He was lying face down and had drowned, along with his mother, uncle, and brother, who were all trying to reach Bangladesh to escape the violence of Myanmar’s Rakhine State. As the photo began to circulate among news outlets, the Myanmar government deemed the images “fake news” while continuing to expel and exterminate Rohingyas and extol its plans for entering the global economy. Shohayet’s father, Zafor Alam, eventually made it to a refugee camp in Bangladesh. Of the thousands of Rohingyas who have perished trying to flee persecution, Alam states “Only the river knows how many dead bodies of Rohingyas are floating there.” Shohayet’s death echoes the  death of two-year-old Salvadoran Valeria Ramírez on the Rio Grande in Matamoros, Mexico, and the more

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well-known fate of Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy who washed up on the shore in Bodrum, Turkey, while trying to reach Europe by way of the Aegean Sea. For a brief moment, Kurdi had become what Debarati Sanyal calls “the ‘ideal’ figure of the refugee” deserving of humanitarian care – a deceased poster child for the plights of refugees that the public could readily consume, on the condition of his figuration as a passive and “speechless emissary,” to borrow Liisa Malkki’s oft-cited formulation. Much can be said about how prominent images of forcibly displaced children washing ashore make forceful claims to humanitarian care and political action when, in fact, such visualizations are often followed by a hardening of borders for asylum seekers. The point I want to make concerns water and its key role in communicating a sense of refugee “crisis.” Across these images, waterways are positioned as forces inhospitable to those seeking refuge. It is the dangerous, nonhuman element that refugees travel on, in, and through in hopes of safely arriving somewhere. But the supposed safety of land arrives too late, as water exceeds human capability and extinguishes refugee lives. Alam’s statement, however, contrasts with these mass media sentiments. For him, water is a witness to deaths that go unrecorded, an active site of remembering and archiving what the international world does not. Shohayet’s father’s remarks bring attention to water’s figurative meanings and expose how the environment is often culturally exploited toward lasting ideological ends. Trading in audience emotions, in dominant refugee ecologies perpetuated by mass media, water’s evident power next to dead refugee bodies helps to crystallize refugee vulnerability and inscribes nature’s impassivity toward humans. These refugee–environment arrangements truncate historical and political context and elide nationstates’ and the UNHCR’s failure to adequately address refugee situations, as many scholars have noted. Humanitarian appeals that such images make may rhetorically justify international “cooperation” on refugee issues, but they are typically belied by international collusions that further restrict migration. In short, water does significant and active narrative work in public discourse by establishing the forcibly displaced person’s passivity and abjection. In Shohayet’s case, the Naf River appears as murky and muddy, with the child found in pockets of still water mixed with solid earthy matter. This aesthetic evokes what Margaret Cohen calls “brown water” to imprint a linear trajectory of refugee migration in which movement occurs away from “homebound earth” toward “the great waters of the wide world.” The topographical boundary between land and water – often

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figured as riverbank, shore, or beach – is, thus, a geographical, social, and political boundary that figures of difference threaten to cross and trouble once they enter the frame. Far from serving as lifeless background content, terraqueous border areas in widely-circulating images of refugees produce the refugee’s liminal status and reify a certain telos of possible transition within the neoliberal present – a transition from the political instabilities of the global South to the liberal freedom and citizenship promised by the global North. We can connect the optical politics of contemporary mass media portrayals of refugees back to the Vietnam War. Much work needs to be done to distinguish among refugee contexts so as not to collapse distinctions – indeed, the above examples cover quite varied grounds, spanning Asian, Mediterranean, and North American waters, each with particular histories and racializations attached – but, as the first “living room” war, the Vietnam conflict and the forced migrations that followed were significantly shaped by mass media coverage. As scholars such as Yến Lê Espiritu and Mai-Linh K. Hong argue, Southeast Asian refugees have been hyperdocumented for “Western spectatorship, pity, and charity,” with visual culture “front and center in constructing American public memory of the war” and its refugees. These contexts provide an earlier example of the indelible role that the global press plays in producing durable, dominant notions of forced human evacuation in which refugees are racialized, dehistoricized, and abjected subjects dependent on Euro-American benevolence. Various phases of post–Vietnam War forced migration, beginning with the mass exodus of over , Vietnamese at the immediate end of the conflict in  and stretching through the late-s migrations that totaled up to . million Southeast Asians, illustrate how waterscapes become instrumental for promoting Euro-American hegemonic interests when it comes to refugee matters. As migration waves ebbed and flowed in the post–Vietnam War moment, an arc emerged in which, initially, the United States flexed its “hydrocolonial” power as it took the lead in “rescue” operations in the South China Sea. US evacuation programs displayed a strong US military – US naval ships, helicopters, and planes alongside US personnel – at the helm of chaotic and dangerous journeys away from Vietnam, across Pacific waterways, and toward US shores. By contrast, South Vietnam’s dissolution as a postcolonial nation-state was amplified through American emphasis on a southern Vietnamese military coming apart, its equipment thrown into the sea and military members seeking safety on US vessels as masses of civilians were depicted trying to flee.

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This uneven distribution of national symbolism and agency also heightened the stories of Vietnamese refugees who made it with US aid over those who didn’t, thereby spotlighting American will and might and downplaying decision-making and action on the part of the Vietnamese themselves. American care and compassion took center stage and asserted the great lengths that the United States would go to in providing refuge for those fleeing a communist regime. In essence, these efforts largely served as public relations work to rewrite and redeem US military and political loss and provide the semblance of working through the trauma of Vietnam in order to recuperate national identity and power for a post–Vietnam War era. The force of American maritime prowess in the South China Sea during a watershed moment of political instability and redrawn geopolitical borders displayed the United States as ever-sovereign as it continued to tame, terrestrialize, and move across Pacific waterways, which have long been pitched as a limitless horizon of US economic and political expansion. The performance of US liquid sovereignty through dramatic refugee rescues in  substantially shifted as migrations by boat or, on some occasions, international ships chartered by networks capitalizing on forced displacement, became the main modes of migration from the later s to s. Southeast Asian refugees in the immediate postwar moment were deemed aberrant – temporary exceptions outside norms of land-based notions of citizenship and nation – but worthy of rights because such bestowal bolstered Euro-American hegemony and humanitarianism. However, post- Southeast Asians were increasingly depicted as aberrant, unworthy, and subhuman rather than as human subjects fleeing persecution in order to survive. Instead of large ships crowded with refugees and aided by US-led humanitarian machinery, later migrations were often pictured through expanses and depths of deep-blue water in which vulnerable fishing boats lay adrift in the sea, with Vietnamese visualized as ill-equipped to deal with the sea and shape their fates. Typically, a vessel precariously bobs up and down, weighted down with worn, haggard passengers who are “starving, dehydrated,” and have been subject to drowning, kidnapping, “murder, robbery and rape.” Refugees look worried and parched, their hands often praying and supplicant. Snapshots of life on the vessels themselves reveal humans of all ages packed like sardines, with overlapping limbs protruding in all directions or, conversely, a boat that has fewer than capacity signals that many on board have died. The shift away from  stagings of US maritime prowess and humanitarianism also entailed, in addition to asserting refugee aberration

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and subhumanity, deflecting international accountability through strategic depictions of the environment. Consider how the narration of a   Minutes episode titled “The Island” reifies refugee exceptionality: “At first it’s hard to make out. A speck on the horizon. You take a closer look. [Journalist Ed Bradley whips out binoculars.] A boat. A flag. An arm waving.” A member of the Canadian Navy wrote similarly of the refugee’s uncanny maritime appearance in : “we stumbled across a boat filled with Vietnamese Refugees adrift.” These comments convey befuddlement at seeing organisms existing where one would not expect, violating perceived environmental and political boundaries rather than being the logical diasporic outcomes of colonialism and conflict. Undoubtedly, it might be hard to discern such vessels and figures from a distance. But the lexicon of astonishment threading these narratives is difficult to fathom given worldwide knowledge of the refugee situation at the time. Such expressions of surprise and Southeast Asian subhumanity are evident in a Japanese observer’s description of refugees creating “infested areas” in the sea and in numerous reports documenting international vessels, including US Navy ships, bypassing refugee boats or steering clear of maritime spaces where one might encounter refugee vessels. Pushback of boats was also common, further exposing the inhumane side of the myth of a “freedom of the seas.” In the post–Vietnam War period, if refugees reached a beach or shore, the media, UNHCR, and numerous nation-states would position them as presenting a political dilemma. Were they persecuted humans fleeing violence and worthy of aid according to international law? Or were they unwanted contaminants, stoking fears of Asian hordes and for whom no one was actually accountable? This conundrum contributed to a major policy change that transferred responsibility to Vietnamese refugees themselves and avoided the charge of refoulement. The UNHCR’s  Comprehensive Plan of Action (CPA) ended recognition of Vietnam War asylum seekers as prima facie refugees and implemented screening procedures to assess whether subjects should be recognized as “refugee” or “economic migrant.” Those identified as the latter were repatriated (e.g., deported). Forced migration quickly became migration by choice, and those who “chose” to migrate were now recast as unnecessarily risking death at their own hands. The CPA illustrates how fluid and arbitrary distinctions between “refugee” and “migrant” can be, and how policy can obscure the details of how and why refugees cross land and sea. Changing policies regarding Southeast Asian refugees also worked to reinforce mass media’s erasure of (neo)colonial roots of displacement,

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affirm that humanitarian practice was still relevant and effective, and suggest that those who “chose” to migrate were now the causes of their own maritime misfortune. In turn, these messages downplayed and made abstract the severity of mass refugee deaths at sea. Southeast Asians certainly washed up on riverbanks and beaches, but they were not the main subjects of the news, which preferred to maintain focus on the “model minority” or “good refugee” who successfully resettled. Approximate numbers for those who tried to migrate and those who died at sea are vague, fluctuate, and probably under-reported. As previously stated, possibly . million tried to flee, while the UNHCR recorded , Vietnam War total refugees in camps across Asia from the mids to mid-s. Better data concerning the large-scale loss that lies between those numbers eludes us – a loss following a conflict in which six million Southeast Asians had already perished – but reveals an important instance of what Jinah Kim calls Asia’s “watery graves” that stem from histories of war violence in the Pacific region. If we think of the shore as an ecotone, an edge where the meeting of different environments and ecological communities meet, the beach or shore in prevailing images of refugees marks a transition point from water to land to stage an encounter between figures of political difference and the uneven distribution of supposedly universal human rights. The uncanny refugee who suddenly appears on water seems steered by meteorological patterns more so than by any telos of colonial capitalist history that produces horrific refugee conditions. Cohen refers to this area of “boundary transgression” as a chronotope of the shore, where “the scope of [a] social world expands . . . to include . . . all who take human form.” Yet “human” is a contested category here that can easily delete sub- or nonhuman figures from its frame. Even if refugees make it past shores and beaches and are deemed humans worthy of refuge, they “[languish] in overcrowded camps, waiting uncertainly, sometimes indefinitely, to be reviewed and then resettled or repatriated.” This suspension exhibits how “slow violence” works in conjunction with necropolitics to diminish the chances of refugee survival in various environments. The post–Vietnam War context proves useful for historicizing how mass media ecologies of forced displacement fuel anxieties about refugees as signaling “the arrival of [refugee] histories and cultures that exceed [Occidental modernity’s] desires and augment its fears,” and for engaging how refugee writers respond and rework those perceptions. Prevailing tactics of “visualizing refugeeness” present forcibly displaced subjects as flat and silenced aberrations in a South China Sea characterized as mostly

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natural element rather than the dense commercial, military, and contested waterway that it has long been. Such visualization is noteworthy, given that Vietnam is significantly defined by water access (with its major internal rivers and over , miles of coastline bordering the South China Sea) and has a deep history of maritime knowledge and culture. An analysis of Nam Le’s short story “The Boat” elaborates a different refugee ecology, one that both engages and casts a critical gaze on mass media spectacles of refugees. The story, which takes place during a boat journey and is focalized through the perspective of a young Vietnamese woman named Mai, foregrounds refugee epistemology and cultural practice as interactively and recursively tied to water. “The Boat” sustains critical consideration of refugeehood yet de-exceptionalizes it by asserting forced dislocation as a fact of modernity linked to Southeast Asia’s long seafaring history.

Critical Refugee Ecologies in Nam Le’s “The Boat” “The Boat” is the last, eponymous story from Le’s well-received collection of short fiction published in . In the narrative, which we might classify as a refugee “boat narrative,” Mai embarks on migration alone but befriends a young mother, Quyen, and her son, Truong, whom Quyen had outside of her marriage but decides to take with her when she leaves South Vietnam. The narrative spans thirteen days at sea and concludes with land in view but without revealing if the characters reach it. The junk on which the story is situated carries twice its capacity, packing bodies onboard and revealing “thighs and ribs and arms and heads – jammed this way and that” as the boat rocks back and forth. A hallucination-inducing fever makes its way around the boat, and those who don’t make it are thrown overboard. As passengers face storms, dehydration, and heat, they are spatially and politically alienated, as the rest of the world remains “beyond the reach of Mai’s mind” (p. ). Exhibiting familiar aspects of Vietnamese sea migration, “The Boat” depicts, in highly descriptive prose, the physical deterioration and subjective degradation that refugees experience. “The Boat” offers a sustained treatment of trauma-in-the-making, or trauma as it happens during refugee migration. As Alexandra Kurmann and Tess Do argue in their reading of Le’s story, boat narratives are not common in Southeast Asian diasporic writing. They are often part of a larger story rather than the focal point of a single diegesis, perhaps because of “the difficulty of translating such suffering into literary form.” Le’s

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depictions, however, capture trauma unfolding in the present tense. Faces around Mai are “expressionless” (p. ) and “impassive” (p. ), while Mai finds her body acquiring an “automatic anxiety” (p. ) and performing actions that stretch her body’s limits, such as when her “stomach forced up, squashed through her throat” (p. ). Following a string of deaths, a “new silence” pervades the boat (p. ), and Mai becomes estranged from herself, as if watching events unfold from afar: “it seemed to Mai that a film had been stripped from the world” (p. ). Experiences that leave refugees stunned, forever marked in mind and body, and at a loss for words to reflect qualities common to trauma survivors. In the midst of the trauma produced by the perilous sea journey, “The Boat” eschews a human-against-the-elements relationship that is prominent in mass media coverage of Southeast Asian refugees, instead gradually diminishing the boundary between the two. In the early phases of the sea journey, Mai tries to divorce herself from what Donald C. Goellnicht calls the “visceral” realities of being uprooted from the supposed safety of land to follow an unknown fate at sea: she “[tries] to block it all out: the voices, the smell. It was unnerving to think of all those other bodies in the darkness” (p. ). While Mai comes from a seafaring family, she initially feels severed from this history and is frightened of the water: “What did she know about the sea? She was the daughter of a fisherman and yet it terrified her” (p. ). However, as the story advances, perceived elemental difference dissolves in literal and figurative ways. Meteorological patterns whisk the junk about in a way that blurs elemental borders, as in this example of a storm scene that merges water, refugee, and air into one frame: “now the gunwale had crested the water – the ocean completely vanished – and it was as though they were soaring through the air” (p. ). Environment and refugee begin to reflect one another’s injured appearances: “cloud streaks were already blue-bruised against a sky the color of skin” (p. ), while Truong’s “clothes [hang] from his limbs as though from a denuded tree’s branches” (p. ). This is not a merciless and uncaring nature that we see, or one to be mastered by humans. Rather, water as well as air become materially unbounded and are coconstitutive – evolving with refugee, with each made visible in and by the other. Water evolves in multidimensional ways in “The Boat” and deepens refugees’ ontological and cognitive interrelatedness with the sea. As Mai gets to know Truong, she discerns in him a tight bond with the sea expressed through liquid metaphors – in particular, his “watery voice” – that suggests an organic connection to bodies of water, a fluidity that crosses time and space and gives him the quality “of an old man crushed

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into the rude shape of a boy” (p. ). The intergenerational ties to water he embodies are further punctuated by Anh Phuoc, who captains the ship and is so skilled at this task that he returns to helm different refugee journeys, continually putting his life at risk like an epic hero: “He was . . . one of those mythic figures who’d already made his escape yet returned, again and again, to help others” (p. ). His deep maritime knowledge allows the boat to weather shortages of food and water as well as dangerous storms. He also reveals how maritime practice is both nautical and political. In managing multiple land-and-sea refugee journeys, Anh Phuoc develops new cartographic and cognitive maps necessary to adapt to a new Vietnamese regime under which once-familiar spatial and political borders are remade, with regional and oceanic journeys becoming illegal because they are seen as violating the integrity of the nascent Vietnamese nation-state. For example, because every leg of the migration is lifethreatening, one must know when rivers and banks are surveyed most heavily, how to maneuver permits, mines, and gunfire, and how to discern viable pathways under cover of night. Anh Phuoc is that person in “The Boat” – a mariner who intuitively and intellectually understands and adapts to Southeast Asia’s diverse waterways. Anh Phuoc’s nautical learning and practice – expressed through Le’s own nautical language and style – echoes aspects of the sea adventure story as conceptualized by Cohen and Hester Blum. For these scholars, sea narratives importantly center the maritime in literary history. While they are often read for their metaphorical meanings inspired by the imaginative possibilities of water, Cohen and Blum focus on the material dimensions of mariners’ collective ethos and their practical skill, labor, and knowledge that show how seas and oceans are global sites of practice and politics. Refugee narratives like the “The Boat” specify the materialist and conceptual implications of sea stories further. Here, Vietnamese mariner skill becomes essential for refugee survival and, thus, makes possible diasporic emergence. Mariner know-how also serves a critical function, bringing attention to the precariousness of refugee life within a changing geopolitical map, which Anh Phuoc must quickly grasp and carefully navigate. In helping to draw out the boat journey rather than the moment of refugee flight or arrival, Anh Phuoc’s character also plays a large role in portraying refugees’ complete spatial, social, and political isolation on the sea and their lack of political recognition in the face of the international world’s neglect. In its focused attention on a single boat journey that never reaches land, Le’s narrative upends the idea that the refugee’s life only matters and is legible when approaching sovereign territory – about to reach a riverbank, beach, or shore.

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Readings of “The Boat” sensitive to literary workings of water resonate with current scholarly interest in different forms of water-oriented critique. A wide array of concepts have been put forth in this area of inquiry, including “critical oceanic studies,” “hydro-criticism,” “wet ontologies,” and more. These proposals are sometimes situated as extensions and/or refractions of earlier models, such as Fernand Braudel’s Mediterranean and Paul Gilroy’s Black Atlantic. As many have shown, water-based epistemologies have long defined Black, Indigenous, Caribbean, Pacific Islander, and queer of color cultures and histories beyond contemporary concerns of the “Anthropocene.” Echoing critical approaches that take long historical, global South perspectives, “The Boat” compels a reading that presupposes the aqueous as a constant force in Southeast Asian epistemology and Southeast Asian/American literature and scholarship. Rivers, seas, and oceans have long figured into Vietnamese imaginations and politics and can be viewed as necessary starting points for any Vietnamrelated inquiry. In addition to being a significant part of Vietnamese creation/origin stories, which involve the meeting of mythical mountain and sea figures, waterways thread oral and written narratives of Vietnam and its diaspora. Scholars including Li Tana and Trần Đức Anh Sơn have mapped Vietnam’s dynamic shipbuilding history and broader role in the Southeast Asian “water frontier” of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It is perhaps not surprising, then, that Vietnamese diasporic authors commonly establish their intimacy with the aqueous and remark that this is perhaps intrinsic to Vietnamese language. For example, a number of writers, including critic and translator Huynh Sanh Thong and writer and artist lê thi diem thúy, emphasize that the Vietnamese word for water, country, and nation is the same – nước – with Huynh elaborating that “‘water’ is the concept of a people who have gathered near a body of water to grow rice for one another, . . . sharing rain and drought, plenty and famine, peace and war.” Journalist, essayist, and fiction writer Andrew Lam further details that another Vietnamese phrase for country – Đất Nước – joins “land” and “water.” Donald C. Goellnicht and Patricia Nguyễn note the literal and figurative significance of water in Vietnamese diasporic culture and subject formation. Michiko Kakutani, in her review of Ocean Vuong’s book of poetry Night Sky with Exit Wounds, somewhat simplistically equates the fluid connotations of Vuong’s first name to the content of his works in which “the sea becomes a metaphor for rebirth and transformation.” The transhistorical maritime sensibility that Truong and Anh Phuoc bring to “The Boat” expands the temporality of the story beyond the “state

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of emergency” at hand and opens up the longer history of Vietnamese maritime ecology. For instance, Rach Gia is key to the narrative as the city in southern Vietnam where Mai begins her voyage, and it served as a main departure point of Vietnam War refugee postwar migrations after . However, its historical significance reaches much farther back as a seaport city rooted in fishing and shipbuilding – a site of Vietnamese mariner knowledge accrued over centuries that Anh Phuoc embodies. Le’s setting of Rach Gia coalesces the specificity of Southeast Asian forced migration in the late-twentieth century with the region’s long maritime past. Intimate ties to water specific to, yet exceeding, Vietnamese refugeehood also manifest in affectively-charged moments of collective spirituality that manifest a dialogic relationship between refugees and the sea. “A humming of prayer” (p. ) gives “The Boat” a constant sonic, spiritual structure, as passengers regularly light incense and “[pray] to their ancestors” (p. ). These are not one-way apostrophes delivered to a vague and silent listener. Prayer is responded to, followed by “phantom voices” (p. ) even when everyone on the boat is silent: “the sound of people whispering, hundreds of people, thousands, the musical fall and rise of their native tongue. Barely intelligible. Sometimes right next to Mai’s ear” (p. ). These acoustic presences sound like both human voice and nature’s wind, delineating their interaction. Mai realizes that these sounds may be the voices of the deceased who have fallen to the bottom of the ocean floor (p. ), and they intensify as the boat “[ventures] into the fields of the dead, those plots of ocean where thousands had capsized with their scows and drowned” (p. ). Evocative of Zafor Alam’s comment regarding waterways as witness and archive, refugee prayer in “The Boat” remembers the dead, performing what Angela Naimou conceptualizes as critical, nonnationalist forms of diasporic lamentation; enumerates the deceased’s transformed and continued agency in the lives of the living; and pays respect to the multifaceted power and hybrid molecular forms of the sea. The sea is what enables refugee migrations, yet it is also what takes – “it can steal from you and never give back,” as an elderly woman on the boat who has lost her family due to boat migrations states (p. ). It is perhaps this recognition that the sea is dangerous for refugees yet integrally tied to them as an ancestral space for the deceased that compels refugees in “The Boat” both to hope for survival and be tempted to jump into the water: “they stared into the fog . . . each in some space of unthinking as though they had leapt overboard” (p. ). The draw of the sea invites refugees in when

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nation-states and institutions neglect them, counteracting the injustice of human worlds. It also offers reunion with the sea and mariners of all types across time and space who are housed there and animate it. Thus, communal prayer is directed to not only refugees who have perished or will perish but also other mariner figures, such as those who have labored on the coasts and are resurrected when “a sea wind [bears] men’s voices up from the wharf” (p. ). As mention of Rach Gia in “The Boat” pinpoints and expands beyond the particularities of Vietnam War forced migration, it would be a mistake to interpret collective prayer and song related to waterways solely in terms of the immediate present of refugeehood. “The Boat” illustrates how this particular migration is just one of many internal and international ones that have defined Southeast Asians intergenerationally. Vietnamese folk songs that passengers sing on the junk recall a cyclical history in which kin have long been forcibly fragmented and forever lost by conflict. War is described as “something always happening” (p. ), while the songs’ shifts in perspective characterize natural forces as causes of displacement – “Why do the streams and hills our love divide?” (p. ) – as well as agents of protection and guidance – “I am the vigil moon that sheds you light” (p. ). Mai recalls that, before her own migration, her father was forced to abandon home to attend a “reeducation camp” after the war. His ill, blind, and disintegrating body begins to resemble that of a submerged sailing vessel: “his whole face was sunken – as though its foundation had finally disintegrated” (p. ). In reminding her of her father, Mai’s encounter with other refugees results in the connective possibilities of what Vinh Nguyen calls “refugeetude,” linking her with her father’s own displacements, seafaring biography and mariner constitution, creating kinetic relationality among newfound kin. Moreover, in positing the maritime as a continual part of the bodily and psychic being of Vietnamese, “The Boat” gestures to Southeast Asian cosmologies. These cosmologies have historically understood coasts, seas, and oceans as populated by a powerful spectrum of sentient human-tononhuman forces. This spectrum encompasses deceased humans, gods and goddesses, and other supernatural forces and, as many Southeast Asians believe, creates a special connection to aqueous environments. This is evident in the many shrines and burials built as offerings and prayers, their sanctity closely tied to a shape-shifting water with morphing forms and meanings. Maritime entanglement means understanding waterways as “fickle allies” and holding a simultaneous “mixture of respect, apprehension and fear” of seas and oceans. The complicated role of the sea is

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evident in the story’s conclusion, which focuses on Truong’s burial after he dies during the journey. As the narrative establishes the sea as a sacred, spiritual site, his return to the sea is not without solace. Yet Truong’s death is also a violent theft of already-precarious refugee life, one that Mai and Quyen can’t watch as he is “[tossed] . . . as far behind the boat as possible so he would be out of sight when the sharks attacked” (p. ).

Conclusion Refugee ecologies in “The Boat” emerge as refugee–water relationships that are distinctly dialogic, reciprocal, and recursive, both in the context of twentieth-century forced displacement and beyond. They compel readers not to reduce Le’s literary characters and waterways to refugee situations alone, harking to long Vietnamese maritime knowledge and culture and Southeast Asian cosmological maps that continue to inform refugee epistemology. Discerning this long history is not to let nationstates and the UNHCR off the hook for exceptionalizing refugee situations and furthering conditions of modern conflict and violence that create stateless persons. Rather, it is to insert a historicist, culturally and politically informed perspective in refugee discourses, which often dehistoricize and depoliticize forced migration and position refugees as helpless and desperate, disconnected from existing knowledges and practices so that they can be remade entirely anew. Critical attention to the varied ecologies of refugee narratives helps to locate important, occluded links to the past and encourages reckoning with the complexity of how refugees make and remake their worlds.

Notes  Peter Nyers critiques the emergency/crisis logic of refugeeness, which has characterized international discourse on refugees since the early-twentiethcentury, because it asserts that “the refugee condition should be understood as a temporary condition” rather than a permanent feature of modern politics. Peter Nyers, Rethinking Refugees: Beyond States of Emergency (New York: Routledge, ), –.  Ibid., , .  Mimi Thi Nguyen, The Gift of Freedom (Durham: Duke University Press, ).  Vinh Nguyen, “Refugeetude: When Does a Refugee Stop Being a Refugee.” Social Text, , no.  (): –.

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 Valeria Luiselli, Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions (Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, ), .  “Toddler Refugee’s Body in Rohingya Similar to Aylan Kurdi.” ABNA, January , , available at: https://en.abna.com/service/east-asia/ archive/////story.html (last accessed August , ).  Debarati Sanyal, “Humanitarian Detention and Figures of Persistence at the Border.” Critical Times, , no.  (): .  Liisa H. Malkki, “Speechless Emissaries: Refugees, Humanitarianism, and Dehistoricization.” Cultural Anthropology, , no.  (): –.  Sanyal, “Humanitarian Detention,” –.  Alam’s remark echoes literature and criticism that grasps waterways as sites of witness, memory, and history, perhaps most prominently in Derek Walcott, “The Sea Is History.” In Collected Poems, – (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, ).  See, for example, Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, trans. Daniel Heller Roazen (Redwood City: Stanford University Press, ); Hannah Arendt, “The Decline of the Nation-State and the End of the Rights of Man.” In The Origins of Totalitarianism (Cleveland: Meridian, ), –; Yến Lê Espiritu, Body Counts: The Vietnam War and Militarized Refuge(es) (Berkeley: University of California Press, ); Nyers, Rethinking Refugees.  Margaret Cohen, “The Chronotopes of the Sea.” In The Novel: Volume , Forms and Themes, ed. Franco Moretti (Princeton: Princeton University Press, ), .  Yến Lê Espiritu, “Toward a Critical Refugee Study.” Journal of Vietnamese Studies, , nos. – (): .  Mai-Linh K. Hong, “Reframing the Archive: Vietnamese Refugee Narratives in the Post-/ Period.” MELUS, , no.  (): –.  “History of Vietnamese Communities in East London.” C. R. V. East London (Community of Refugees East London), available at: http:// crveastlondon.co.uk (last accessed August , ). This number is plausible, given that by , there were , asylum seekers registered in countries of first asylum, and Southeast Asian forced migration stretched into the mid-s.  I draw this term from Kerry Bystrom and Isabel Hofmeyr, “Oceanic Routes: (Post-It) Notes on Hydro-colonialism.” Comparative Literature, , no.  (): –.  For instance, see images and narrative accounts of events unfolding on the US destroyer escort USS Kirk, including “The USS Kirk: Valor at the Vietnam War’s End.” National Public Radio, May , , available at: www.npr.org/ series//the-uss-kirk-valor-at-the-vietnam-war-s-end (last accessed August , ); Mark Bailey, Rory Kennedy, and Keven McAlester, Last Days in Vietnam (Arlington, Virginia: PBS, ).  Associated Press, “ ‘Boat People’ Are Rescued by a U.S. Seventh Fleet Warship.” New York Times, June , , available at: www.nytimes.com/

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   

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         

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///world/-boat-people-are-rescued-by-a-us-seventh-fleet-warship .html (last accessed August , ). UNHCR (United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees), “Flight from Indochina, Box ..” In The State of the World’s Refugees : Fifty Years of Humanitarian Aid (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, ), available at: www.unhcr.org/ebfbad.html (last accessed August , ). For example, see Bolinao , dir. Duc Nguyen (RHIMP and Kanopy Productions, ). “The Island.”  Minutes, CBS, June , . The episode is sometimes referred to as “The Boat People.” navydiving, “Canadian Navy Vietnam Boat People Rescue .” YouTube video, : minutes, March , , available at: www.youtube.com/watch? v=RJiIZvQEF (last accessed August , ). Henry Scott Stokes, “Ships Bound for Japan Avoiding Seas Traversed by ‘Boat People’.” New York Times, July , , available at: www.nytimes.com/ ///archives/ships-bound-for-japan-avoiding-seas-traversed-by-boatpeople.html (last accessed August , ). Numerous such accounts exist, but these articles capture the broader scale of losses and deaths: Associated Press, “ Feared Lost as Refugee Boat Sinks off Malaysia.” New York Times, December , , available at: www.nytimes.com/ ///archives/-feared-lost-as-refugee-boat-sinks-off-malaysia-morerefugees.html (last accessed August , ); “Viets Feared Dead as One Boat a Month Lost.” South China Morning Post, August , , available at: www .scmp.com/article//viets-feared-dead-one-boat-month-lost (last accessed August , ). For discussions of necropolitics and slow violence in contemporary refugee situations, see Sanyal, “Humanitarian Detention,” –, and Lucy Mayblin, Mustafa Wake, and Mohsen Kazemi, “Necropolitics and the Slow Violence of Everyday: Asylum Seeker Welfare in the Postcolonial Present.” Sociology, , no.  (): –. Espiritu, Body Counts, . Ibid., . Jinah Kim, Postcolonial Grief: The Afterlives of the Pacific Wars in the Americas (Durham: Duke University Press, ), –. Margaret Cohen, “The Chronotopes of the Sea,” –. Espiritu, Body Counts, . Nguyen, “Refugeetude,” , . Iain Chambers, “Maritime Criticism and Theoretical Shipwrecks.” PMLA, , no.  (): . Nyers, Rethinking Refugees, –. Nam Le, “The Boat.” In The Boat (New York: Knopf, ), . All subsequent citations appear in parentheses. Alexandra Kurmann and Tess Do, “Children on the Boat: The Recuperative Work of Postmemory in Short Fiction of the Vietnamese Diaspora.” Comparative Literature, , no.  (): .

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 Donald C. Goellnicht, “‘Ethnic Literature’s Hot’: Asian American Literature, Refugee Cosmopolitanism, and Nam Le’s ‘The Boat’.” Journal of Asian American Studies, , no.  (): .  Hester Blum, The View from the Masthead: Maritime Imagination and Antebellum American Sea Narratives (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, ); Margaret Cohen, The Novel and the Sea (Princeton: Princeton University Press, ).  Elizabeth DeLoughrey, “Submarine Futures of the Anthropocene.” Comparative Literature Journal, , no.  (): –.  Laura Winkiel (ed.), “Hydro-criticism.” English Language Notes , no.  ().  Philip Steinberg and Kimberley Peters, “Wet Ontologies, Fluid Spaces: Giving Depth to Volume through Oceanic Thinking.” Society and Space, , no.  (): –.  Fernand Braudel, Mediterranean in the Ancient World (New York: Penguin, ).  Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double-Consciousness (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, ).  For instance, see Karin Amimoto Ingersoll, Waves of Knowing: A Seascape Epistemology (Durham: Duke University Press, ); Tiffany Lethabo King, The Black Shoals: Offshore Formations of Black and Native Studies (Durham: Duke University Press, ); Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley, “Black Atlantic, Queer Atlantic: Queer Imaginings of the Middle Passage.” GLQ, , nos. – (): –.  Li Tana, “The Eighteenth-Century Mekong Delta and Its World of Water Frontier.” In Việt Nam: Borderless Histories, ed. Nhung Tuyet Tran and Anthony Reid (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, ): –; Trần Đức Anh Sơn, Ngành Đóng Thuyê`n Và Tàu Thuyê`n Ớ Việt Nam Thời Nguyễn (Ho Chi Minh City: Nhà Xuất Bản Văn Hóa-Văn Nghệ, ).  Huynh Sanh Thong, “Live by Water, Die for Water.” In Watermark: Vietnamese American Poetry and Prose, ed. Barbara Tran, Monique T. D. Truong, and Luu Truong Khoi (New York: Asian American Writers’ Workshop, ): vi–vii; lê thi diem thúy, The Gangster We Are All Looking For (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, ).  Andrew Lam, “Enchantment.” In Hearth: A Global Conversation on Community, Identity, and Place, ed. Annick Smith and Susan O’Connor (Minneapolis: Milkweeds, ), available at: www.humanitiesmontana.org/ wp-content/uploads/Enchantment-Andrew-Lam.pdf (last accessed August , ).  Goellnicht, “Ethnic Literature’s Hot,” ; Patricia Nguyễn, “Salt|water: Vietnamese Refugee Passages, Memory, and Statelessness at Sea.” Women’s Studies Quarterly, , nos. – (): .  Michiko Kakutani, “Review: ‘Night Sky with Exit Sounds,’ Verses from Ocean Vuong.” New York Times, May , , available at: www.nytimes .com////books/review-night-sky-with-exit-wounds-verses-fromocean-vuong.html (last accessed August , ).

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 Angela Naimou, “Mediterranean Returns: Migration and the Poetics of Lamentation.” In Writing Beyond the State: Post-Sovereign Approaches to Human Rights in Literary Studies, ed. Alexandra S. Moore and Samantha Pinto (Cham: Palgrave, Macmillan, ): –.  Nguyen, “Refugeetude.”  Barbara Watson Andaya, “Seas, Oceans and Cosmologies in Southeast Asia.” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, , no.  (): –.  Vinh Nguyen’s excellent discussion of Nam Le’s “The Boat” in terms of “oceanic spatiality” focuses more on the boat journey itself. See Vinh Nguyen, “Nuoc/Water: Oceanic Spatiality in the Vietnamese Diaspora.” In Migration by Boat: Discourses of Trauma, Exclusion, and Survival,” ed. Lynda Mannik (New York: Berghahn Books, ): –, especially –.

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Diaspora and Detention Behrouz Boochani, Manus Prison, and Genres of the Borderscape Jini Kim Watson Midway through No Friend but the Mountains, Behrouz Boochani’s  account of his incarceration in Australia’s offshore detention camp on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, the narrator provides a poetic inventory of his surrounding: Fox Prison has six main corridors. Each one of these corridors consists of the following: Two open entry-exit points / Twelve small rooms, approximately one-and-a-half metres by one-and-a-half metres / Flyscreened windows / Four imprisoned individuals, in bunk beds / Forced to adapt to each other’s sweaty bodies and the elimination of personal space / Twelve rusted fans facing the same direction / Forty-eight individuals / Forty-eight beds / Forty-eight foul-smelling mouths / Forty-eight half-naked, sweaty bodies / Frightened / Arguing.

The regimented physical organization of the prison, with everything in neat multiples of four or twelve, conveys the dehumanizing environment the Australian government officially calls a “Regional Processing Centre,” and in which hundreds of refugees have been forcibly incarcerated. Boochani, a Kurdish journalist who fled persecution in Iran, attempted to reach Australia from Indonesia in a small fishing boat in . Intercepted by the Australian navy, he was briefly detained on Christmas Island, a remote Australian territory, before being flown to Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, where he remained for six years until he was allowed to travel to New Zealand in  to speak at the Word Christchurch 

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  

literary festival. He was at last granted a visa to stay in New Zealand in July . Boochani’s No Friend but the Mountains is the first major literary work to emerge from Australia’s offshore refugee detention regime. The book provoked a literary sensation by winning several of Australia’s top prizes, including the prestigious Victorian Premier’s Literary Award, which normally carries a citizen or permanent resident requirement. Indeed, Boochani has insisted on his status as an Australian: “Even if I don’t go to Australia, I will be part of Australia.” Along with his prolific journalism, activism, and a  film codirected with Arash Kamali Sarvestani, Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time, Boochani’s book has done more than any other to reveal the horrific conditions of Australia’s offshore detention complex. As Megan Stack observes, “Boochani’s book challenges readers to acknowledge that we are living in the age of camps” which stretch though the Middle East, the Greek islands of the Aegean, the US–Mexico border, Guantánamo, Bangladesh, and Chad. What does it mean to think about the arrival of a literary text at an intended destination while its author remains in detention? If, in the s heyday of globalization theory, diaspora studies was reinvigorated by the apparent “accelerating mobility across state borders of people, money and cultural products,” what purchase are those diasporic frameworks in the face of proliferating regimes of immobility? In short, how might we think of diaspora with its seeming opposite, detention? In this essay, I do not argue either for diaspora’s relevance or its supersession by a new discourse of critical refugee studies. Rather, acknowledging diaspora to be a “notoriously vague and nostalgic term,” I suggest it carries with it certain ethical and political frameworks that may be productive for thinking against dominant humanitarian and statist responses to “the refugee crisis.” The latter, as Peter Nyers has diagnosed, tends to figure refugees as “stripped of all cultural and political qualities”; that is, they are subjects typically seen merely in relation to “the states that alternately refuse or receive them.” If the term “refugee” connotes an abstract legal status – often prompting the determination of “genuine” versus “fake” – diaspora offers a broader set of cultural and political tropes, resonances, and temporalities. These include diaspora’s interest in the complex material, juridical, and ideational conditions of human migration, as well as its attention to trauma, memory, and belonging. Most useful for this essay are three tropes common in diasporic narratives: first is the account of oppression that forces flight from the homeland; second are practical and ethical questions of hospitality/ hostility or inclusion/exclusion in the land of arrival; and third, for good or

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bad, is the politics of collective identity in relation to the homeland. Far from endorsing such a neat portrait of diaspora, this essay is an experiment in thinking through and against a set of conceptual frames that have long attached to human movement. In contrast to the abstract legal designation of refugee, then, the diasporan carries a story, one that exceeds and confounds the legal narratives demanded of the asylum seeker. Such stories evoke an origin, a passage, and a look backward. Conversely, building upon the work of critical refugee studies, I also foreground the specificities of contemporary refugee detention in ways that allow us to perceive diaspora beyond the assumption of increased mobility in the age of globalization. This essay thus accords with the work of Lily Cho, who has sought to reconfigure diaspora studies away from the mere phenomenon of transnational movement toward “the urgency of recognizing the persistence of colonialism’s intersections with questions of immigration and citizenship.” My argument will proceed in two parts. In the first, I look specifically at how Boochani’s No Friend offers an analysis of the contemporary “practice and capability [of bordering] that can be uncoupled from traditional border geographies.” That is, Boochani’s memoir not only refutes the notion of refugees as the “negative, empty, temporary, and helpless counterpart to the positive, present, permanent, and authoritative citizen.” It also theorizes the innovative ways in which state sovereignty and twentyfirst century capitalism are reconfiguring migrant flows in new political, spatial, and aesthetic terms. I suggest here that diasporic narrative’s interest in the oppression that often begets flight now reappears at the heart of the refugee detention system itself. Meanwhile, we see how older discourses of sovereign inclusion or exclusion are rewritten to reflect the depoliticized, neoliberal language of service providers, subcontractors and management agreements that are constitutive of today’s border-industrial complex. In the second section I turn to Boochani’s film, Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time, for its equally profound meditation on the space, time, and texture of Manus Prison. In this section, I address what often remains repressed in human rights critiques of Australia’s offshore detention system: the neocolonial relationship between Australia and its former colonies, Papua New Guinea and Nauru, in their transformation into offshore detention providers. As Boochani has noted, “The whole system is established in colonialism.” If the first part of my essay rethinks diaspora’s analysis of oppression and sovereign hospitality for today’s age of camps, in the second, I critically attend to two other keywords of diaspora: homeland and collectivity. Boochani’s status as a Kurdish Iranian in exile draws forth

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  

the problem of Kurdish statelessness and its necessarily imagined homeland; collectivity, in turn, will be refigured in terms of new aesthetic solidarities forged horizontally via the linked imperial histories of refugee-prisoners and Manus Islanders.

Genres of the Borderscape Subtitled “Writing from Manus Prison” – and Boochani insists on using the terms “prison” and “prisoner” throughout – No Friend but the Mountains was secretly texted out by WhatsApp to a number of collaborators based in Sydney, Manus, and Cairo. With an introductory essay by his collaborator and translator Omid Tofighian, it was subsequently published in English by the Australian division of Pan Macmillan. In this sense, it is not so much a Farsi text in English translation; rather, translation and transmediality are its very mode of being, and collaboration itself can be seen “as a form of decolonial resistance to border regimes.” One of the book’s central achievements is refuting the usual status of refugees as objects of knowledge. As Tofighian puts it, Boochani’s writings “produce new knowledge and . . . construct a philosophy that unpacks and exposes systematic torture and the border-industrial complex.” In a conversation with his collaborators, Behrouz himself has weighed the pros and cons of different theoretical frameworks, from Foucault to Gramsci to Žižek, pointing out “this place really needs a lot of intellectual work.” The book thus exceeds the genres of prison diary, testimonio or human rights exposé. Written in a mixture of prose and poetry, it tacks between explication and theorization, the documentary and the aesthetic, fusing “poetry, memoir, elements of fiction, social theory, internal monologues, dreams and nightmares, chants and laments.” Tofighian – who calls the book a work of “anti-genre” – has suggested a plethora of literary modes it could belong to: “clandestine philosophical fiction, prison narratives, philosophical fiction, Australian dissident writing, Iranian political art, transnational literature, decolonial writing and the Kurdish literary tradition.” We might surmise that, in contrast to the excessively partitioned daily existence of its author, the very form of No Friend seems intent on crossing as many boundaries as possible. A better interpretation: if what at first glance seems to be a thrilling narrative of refugee survival becomes a detention diary, becomes the poetry of exile, becomes a theory of neoliberalized biopolitics, this is because the very designations of asylumseeker, refugee, migrant, terrorist, and prisoner slide into each other in an international regime whereby humanitarianism has imperceptibly shaded

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into militarized securitization. No Friend’s hybrid, mediated, collaborative, and transnational form simultaneously indexes its own conditions of production and the deeper workings of the Pacific border regime in a mode that is simultaneously “psychological, historical [and] political.” In a chapter titled “Queueing as Torture,” Boochani meditates on the endless, stultifying wait, under Manus Island’s equatorial sun, for entry into the mess hall. The daily ritual of mealtime is turned into a cruelly quantified, mechanized production process, whereby “Five enter, sitting on five chairs at the beginning of the queue,” and “Everything is reduced to the number five” (p. ). The queue is not merely a symptom of the dehumanization of the camp, or the expression of how a sovereign power “tries to capture and overcode all that it encounters within its own logic of . . . inclusion-exclusion.” Boochani explains that the queue “is a replica of a factory production line” (p. ); life itself becomes “A production line / A factory . . . The prison has become a replica of a chicken coop / Modern / Industrial” (p. ). We must therefore address a question Boochani indirectly returns to again and again: if the prison is a factory, what does it produce? Shifting the epistemological frame from “detention” to “prison,” we see that, in an obvious sense, its product is simply suffering. The Australian government has been accused by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other human rights groups of using indefinite incarceration to deliberately produce conditions that rival – or even mimic – those caused by the wars and dictatorships many refugees are fleeing. Indeed, compared to the larger body of Iranian diasporic writing, No Friend tells us very little about Boochani’s persecution by the Revolutionary Guard for his writings for a Kurdish magazine. Rather, the book’s center of gravity is the systematic torture and suffering produced by the disturbingly mimetic logic of Australia’s border-industrial complex. Considering the  “regional processing” arrangements that first recruited Papua New Guinea and Nauru to Australia’s refugee detention industry, Suvendrini Perera has provocatively theorized the “borderscape,” the zone in which “Australia’s border both contracts – when outlying territories are excised for migration purposes – and expands – as the sovereign territory of other states is effectively annexed to serve as detainment camps.” Boochani’s harrowing descriptions of his risky boat journey from Indonesia (the first boat sinks, the second almost does) his flashbacks to his time in detention in Indonesia, and eventual arrival on Manus, are all discontinuous elements of this “borderscape.” The book powerfully reveals how the system positions refugees within the workings

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  

of a larger, deterritorialized zone of migrant control, inscribing a moving border on their very bodies. No Friend fuses tropes of carceral dehumanization with a poetic, multigenred theorization of the innovative authoritarianism produced by the borderscape. If the border is no longer a physical boundary, but now inscribed onto the bodies of refugees, this inscription must be strenuously and continually reworked, reinforced, and reproduced. The system demands a proliferation of bordering and controlling techniques; its essential task is to partition, to surveil, and to administer at every imaginable temporal and spatial scale, from the division of bodies in rooms, corridors, and camps – the fact that the men are housed in repurposed shipping containers itself is indicative – to the way food, water, cigarettes, medicine, and phone time are all rationed and distributed according to arcane rules. Even the milk poured out at certain mealtimes is subject to a precise but unfathomable economy (pp. –). The result is that the detainees must constantly produce knowledge around this obscure regime and its “conditions of micro-control and macro-control” (p. ): “Every prisoner is convinced that they or their group are the critical theorists of the systemic foundation, the chief analysts of the system’s architecture” (pp. –). It is thus precisely the refugee who provides “insight into state violence that [citizen] settlers don’t have.” The control mechanisms of the borderscape precipitate a corresponding shift in the diasporic narrative. That is, an older diasporic interest in giving an account of one’s pasts – those histories of dislocation and trauma – is now replaced by an account of the suffering specific to migrant detention and bordering practices. At the heart of No Friend’s wide-ranging literary remit, therefore, is the attempt to conduct a thorough analysis of what Boochani and Tofighian refer to as the “Kyriarchial System” that structures the prison, a translation of Boochani’s neologism system-e-hākem in Farsi. They borrow the term “Kyriarchy” from radical feminist theologian Elisabeth Schu¨ssler Fiorenza “to represent intersecting social systems of domination and oppression.” Indeed, there are a number of interlocking forms of oppression No Friend works through. In a particularly memorable section of the book, Boochani reveals his debt to Kafka’s The Trial as he ponders the camp’s endlessly bureaucratic managerial structure: Whatever the question, whoever you ask within the prison, the answer is the same: ‘The Boss has given orders.’ Whenever a stubborn prisoner makes inquiries and finds The Boss of that individual who has said ‘The Boss has given orders’ and then confronts that person, that person also responds with ‘The Boss has given orders’. It is just a pointless effort. All the rules, all the regulations, and all the questions about those rules and regulations are all

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referred back to one person: The Boss. It is astonishing how The Boss also responds with “The Boss has given orders”. A long chain ascending through the hierarchy. (pp. –)

This quote attests to the frustration of a subject caught in a system that incarcerates him for no crime, but is caught in a web of subcontracted workers doing their jobs for various transnational companies and their “long chain of bosses.” In analyzing the new configurations of deterritorialized border control, Sandro Mezzadra and Brett Neilson insist that we see such practices as part of the neoliberal state’s management of migration systems and flexible labor markets. In contrast to Giorgio Agamben’s wellknown theorization of the “sovereign exception” – or the way the camp “catches its inhabitants in a legal order for the purpose of excluding them from this very same order” – Mezzadra and Neilson view migration systems as part of a continuum of governance techniques, which include the temporal bordering of labor “benching” (the withdrawing of certain labor from the market temporarily), deportability, detention, and shortterm protection visas. Together, such strategies aim to “produce governable mobile subjects from ungovernable flows.” Consequently, older tropes of sovereign inclusion/exclusion are replaced by a distinct ontology of the refugee as hyper-managed subject. In a section of imaginative verse, Boochani ponders – and perhaps even longs for – the existence of a place of actual sovereign power. He imagines A place with thousands upon thousands of tall buildings / A place right next to the parliament / A place with women and men . . . / . . . sitting around the oval conference table / A table with a red finish. (p. , original emphasis)

Beginning with the image of “thousands of tall buildings,” the spatial focus of this poem becomes tighter and tighter until we arrive at the very kernel of power, a “table with a red finish.” We might suppose this table to be that of the multiple Australian Prime Ministers who, located in the nation’s capital some , kilometers away, have presided over the “regional processing” regime. Yet, key to the system’s oppression is precisely the fact that there is no table, no place of political power or responsibility to directly refer to, since the logic of offshoring is to depoliticize and deterritorialize the border, shifting legal responsibility from the Australian government to the endless “chain of bosses.” Boochani’s analysis of GS, the private security company contracted for

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  

Manus Prison, similarly discloses the way practices of depoliticized governance and outsourced securitization operate. Its workforce, he suggests, should be referred to by its “real name: Bastards’ Security Company,” since “You need to be a total bastard to work in a place where you detest everyone” (p. ). But he well understands GS as constitutive of a securitized, privatized neoliberal economy which relies on Australian employees “who are mostly overworked and have spent most of their lives working professionally in Australian prisons” (p. ) and the local Manusians, who are reluctantly drawn into the border economy: Like robots following orders, they [the GS guards] enforce every prison rule – rules for both micro-control and macro-control, and rules for the most trivial things through to the most pivotal. There is also a large proportion of GS guards who are Manus Island locals or are from Port Moresby [PNG’s capital city] . . . The agreement between the government of Papua New Guinea and the Australian Department of Immigration stipulates that a large percentage of local people must be employed. Therefore, the prison is forced to employ people who, until then, were the freest humans I have encountered. But now they are absorbed within The Kyriarchal System, absorbed into the prison structure, absorbed into a culture of systemic violence. (p. )

Another pillar of the Kyriarchal system is thus the recruitment of Papua New Guineans into the business of migrant incarceration. Recalling Fanon’s seminal  analysis of French colonialism in Algeria, The Wretched of the Earth, No Friend reveals how the border-industrial complex dehumanizes both its captives and (proxy) captors in a structure of intersecting racial and colonial hierarchies. Another chapter of No Friend is largely devoted to describing the International Health and Medical Services (IMHS), which is contracted for health services in the camps. Boochani depicts the puppet-like appearances of medical workers who in general offer nothing but paracetamol; for those who insist they need to see actual doctors or dentists, an insurmountable rigmarole of schedules, forms, and lists appears. Boochani prefers to have a rotten tooth extracted and cauterized by local Manusians with a red-hot wire because “if I had confronted the IHMS system my soul would have been engulfed in thousands of IMHS letters, reports and forms . . . and then annihilated” (p. ). Here, local Manusians are allies against the soul-destroying system, even as they are inexorably drawn into its economy. What must be accounted for in No Friend, then, is the way a politicalethical framework of sovereign inclusion or exclusion is displaced by the managerialized tyranny of refugee detention. In the process, we see the

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emplotment of diaspora’s “story” wholly reconfigured. Where once oppression preceded and caused flight, now tyranny is a consequence of movement and a deliberate product of transnational bordering practices themselves. The administered (in)humanitarianism of refugee detention finds expression in Boochani’s powerful new “anti-genre” of the borderscape.

Manus, Kurdistan, and Homelands Boochani’s and Arash Kamali Sarvestani’s codirected  film, Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time again grapples with today’s border regimes, but this time through a poetic visual medium. Like No Friend, the film’s narrative is hardly framed as a conventional exposé. Although there are some testimonies by coprisoners who speak to Boochani, and the film ends with a detainee who has self-harmed being taken away by the EMT, much of the film documents the mundane texture of everyday life in the camp. It is beautifully, remarkably, shot on Boochani’s mobile phone. The camera lingers repeatedly on daily scenes from the camp: we see shift changes when staff come and go through tall wire fences; close-ups of Boochani’s flip-flopped feet as he stares out beyond the wire fence to a lush tropical beach; forlorn plastic furniture in the prisoners’ makeshift living quarters; and, in a recurrent visual refrain, a worker in protective clothing tirelessly fumigating the camp from top to bottom, end to end (Figure .). There is no over narration; there are no dates, no names, no background stories, and no identifying subtitles; no sense of time or the time-lapses between different scenes, shots, and conversations, and that is, of course, the point. The film presents not the facts but the poetic texture of life in Manus Prison, both as spatial enclosure and as “space of delay.” The film works as a rhythmic visual and auditory essay rather than an expository one. At the same time, one narrative strand of the film slowly works itself to the surface in order to critically parse the significance of the nickname given to one part of the camp. Chauka, we learn, is the name of a local bird unique to Manus Island; its loud and distinctive call punctuates the film’s soundscape and gives shape to the endless time in indefinite detention, hence the title. But “Chauka” is also the term the Australians have given to the solitary confinement block, or prison within a prison, a place in which – from the fragmented interviews Boochani conducts in the film – men are taken and abused by the withholding of food, water, blankets, and toilets. In a series of scenes, an unnamed Australian woman – we might guess she is a journalist or lawyer at first – accompanies two local Manusian men,

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  

Figure . Camp fumigation in Behrouz Boochani’s and Arash Kamali Sarvestani’s codirected film Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time ()

Poruan Malai and Clement Solomon, around the island: we see the three of them smoking and talking in different settings and discussing the Chauka bird (Figure .). The woman is Janet Galbraith, the founder of an Australian literary organization that advocates for detained asylumseekers. Galbraith seems to feign a tourist’s interest while the men proudly, at times tediously, explain everything about the Chauka bird: when it cries, where it nests, how it survives, and why it is the representative fauna of Manus Province. They joke that, like the locals, “it is a small bird that speaks loud.” Only in the final part of the film does Galbraith reveal to her interlocutors that inside the detention camp is a “torture cell” called Chauka by the Australian guards. They are visibly upset by the derogatory use of Chauka for the torture cell, which Malai calls an “abuse” of the bird’s name. The revelation also prompts the film’s most sustained dialogue as he goes on to describe the tensions and “ill-feelings” that the detention center created between locals and refugees. Finally, Malai wonders aloud: “But it’s funny. Why [is this happening on] such a small, poor province, which doesn’t have many resources?” Later in their meandering conversation, Malai and Solomon touch on the role of Manus in World War II, when the island was a strategic territory fought over by the Japanese and the Americans. Malai tells of his grandparents’ experience, when the locals were forced by the occupying Japanese to fight the invading Americans. “They were confused,” he

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Figure .

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Janet Galbraith, Poruan “Sam” Malai, and Clement Solomon discuss the Chauka bird and Manusian history

recalls: “at that time, they didn’t know what is a plane . . . But they know that fire and bombs coming from that. So when they see the plane coming, they don’t know whether it’s Japanese or the Americans or what but they have to run for their life.” I want to juxtapose this scene of Manusian memory with an evocative section of No Friend. In the only description Boochani provides of his childhood in Iran’s Ilam Province, he recalls: “On one side, Iraqi Ba’athists would empty their rounds. On the other side, Iranian zealots would open fire. In the middle were our homes – our homes left desolate . . . I was born in the cauldron of war” (p. ). The Kurdish predicament of being caught in the crossfire of a war between two powerful states resonates with the Manusian account of the World War II battle over the strategic island. How might we connect these two accounts of war-torn homelands while thinking through and against diaspora’s emplotments? We can start by briefly recalling the way the Pacific Islands – after several centuries of imperialist land grabs by almost every European power – were subject to the League of Nations Mandate System following World War I. The latter allowed the three former German colonies in the Pacific, New Guinea, Nauru, and Samoa, to come under Australian (New Guinea and Nauru) and New Zealand (Samoa) control. As legal scholar Antony Anghie points out, the two Dominion Powers in the Pacific “were intent on annexing the former German territories and were placated only partially by being

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  

appointed mandatories over those territories.” Australia would eventually grant independence to Nauru in  and Papua New Guinea in  as part of the wave of postwar decolonization. These colonial relationships have not, however, disappeared. In the following passage of No Friend, Boochani analyzes the racial hierarchy of Manus Prison: Without exception, the local people and those from other parts of Papua New Guinea are at the bottom of the pecking order. Every Papua New Guinean officer working in the prison is expected to follow orders from the Australians without any thought or question. At the end of the month, after all their hard labour, their monthly wage is only equivalent to five days work of even the most overweight Australian officer. ... [The] Kyriarchical logic has imposed this . . . a message to all: ‘Let it be known that in this prison local people are nothing. They simply get instructions and follow them.’ This configures the relationships among the three basic elements in the prison: the prisoners, the local people, the Australians. (p. )

In interviews and articles, Boochani has repeatedly noted Australia’s subimperial and settler colonial history – and its remarkably long White Australia Policy (–) – as the condition of possibility for Manus Prison: “the colonial habit continues in Australia with the government using Nauru and Papua New Guinea for exiling undesirable people.” Australia’s suppressed colonial histories are thus renovated and revived in the carceral borderscape of the Pacific. Such imperial histories, moreover, are no abstract concept for Boochani. The other area of the world indelibly marked by the League of Nations Mandate System is, of course, the Middle East, which saw the carving up of territories formerly part of the Ottoman Empire. Following the end of World War I, the Treaty of Sèvres briefly raised the possibility of a Kurdish state, but such attempts were ultimately thwarted by regional powers. The Kurds are now minorities within a number of other states including Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. Although they have achieved some levels of limited autonomy, they have faced oppression and discrimination in these territories, including brutal state assimilation and attempts at “pacification,” echoing Australian efforts toward both indigenous Australians and Papua New Guineans. Boochani’s allusion to the “cauldron of war,” meanwhile, references the protracted – conflict that followed Iraq’s invasion of Iran, a year after the Iranian Revolution which deposed the Western-backed Shah. At one point, Boochani recalls his early desires to join the Peshmerga forces with a

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philosophical rumination on the use of armed resistance versus the “value of the pen” (p. ). Boochani’s repeated attention to the Manusians in both No Friend and Chauka draws out these linked imperial histories, offering new possibilities for solidarity arising from shared oppression. Even though the film’s premise is to condemn the torture block, it is the plight of Papua New Guineans that is revealed as Chauka’s true focus. As Boochani has stated, “I never struggled only for the refugees.” How does such a linking of histories alter that other essential keyword of diaspora, “homeland”? If it is a truism that “the concept of diaspora embodies a subtext of home,” Özlem Belçim Galip notes that the “lack of a sovereign entity . . . distinguishe[s] the Kurdish diaspora from the statebound diasporas”; in other words, no fit between diaspora and nation-state can be assumed. I want to suggest that a nonessentialist, “trans-state” approach to Kurdish homeland and identity informs Boochani’s work and is what allows for the forging of new collective identities through comparative imperial histories. In this sense, No Friend and Chauka differ from typical emphases in Iranian (and many other) diasporic contexts where literature primarily becomes a “reflection of th[e] desire to maintain a historical connection to their homeland.” We see possibilities for a new, syncretic collective identity shortly after Boochani’s invocation of the Iran– Iraq war when the narrator takes an imaginative journey on what he calls a “mythic topography” of the island. Having one night witnessed a brutal beating by GS guards of a prisoner being held in Chauka block, he turns his attention, antennae-like, to the natural world. Aware of the way the waves “thrash the body of the island” (p. ), he notes the subtle shifts and crescendos of the crickets, which he calls the “shahs of this empire” (p. ). Because of their song “The splendour of the night multiplies” (p. ) and the tropical Manusian environment merges with a mythical Kurdish landscape. From the humid island jungle of crabs, coconut, and mango trees arises a terrain of ancient rivers and distant mountain ranges: A river re-emerges from the caverns of history, a river full of bends and turns, a river that maps the earth in a way that writes its own destiny . . . Those far away mountain ranges are decorated with a milky colour. Over and beyond those mountain ranges appear other mountain ranges . . . And it continues, reflecting a chain of mountain ranges, mountains the colour of milk, mountains becoming milkier in colour, mountains becoming more translucent. (p. )

Boochani’s “chain of mountain ranges” powerfully and poignantly overlays the islands of Papua New Guinea with the milky mountains of war-torn Kurdistan, poetically linking the history of war there to the repeated

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  

imperial occupations of the Pacific Islands. Kurdistan – with its luminous “translucent” mountains – is clearly central to Boochani’s diasporic consciousness, yet its mingling with the “body of [Manus] island” complicates any straightforward notion of homeland. Diasporic identity is opened up in ways that exceed the overdetermined relation to “homeland.” There is thus more than one spectral relationship of displacement that haunts No Friend and Chauka. If the logic of the Australian offshore detention regime is to isolate and invisibilize the workings of the borderscape from the nation’s mainland – detaching Manus and Nauru from the nation’s political space and imperial history – Boochani forces us to place the border regime at the nation’s center. Let me conclude with one more potent description from No Friend. Here, Boochani describes an outlying section of the prison, a crumbling structure that was part of the s Australian Naval base on Manus, now inhabited by displaced Sudanese men. He insists “This space is part of Australia’s legacy and a central feature of its history – this place is Australia itself – this right here is Australia . . . Just look around, at the ceilings and dark corners, until you accurately understand its architecture” (p. ). In Boochani’s hands, this space is overlaid with the material and spectral traces of Australian colonialism, as well as the myriad journeys of refugees from distant lands. It is a system, an architecture, that above all demands his – and our – deep reflection and theorization. If Boochani reveals the repressed, unhomely site of Australian colonialism that lives on in refugee detention, this is also to imply, finally, that Boochani is doubly diasporic: fleeing the repression of Kurds in authoritarian Iran, he finds himself exiled as an “undesirable” person from a nation he has never even arrived at. Boochani’s theoreticalpoetic testimonies in No Friend and Chauka are profound meditations on both the ontology of contemporary migrant detention and the way the very “concept and condition” of the refugee must be retheorized for our age of camps. If diaspora’s “promise as a mode of theorization . . . enables connections between the traumas of colonialism even as it marks distinctions,” Boochani is exactly the theorist we need.

Notes  Behrouz Boochani, No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison, Translated by Omid Tofighian (London: Picador, ), –. All subsequent citations in parentheses.  For almost two decades, under both Labor and Liberal governments, barring a hiatus between  and , the Australian government detained several

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 

  

  





thousand “unauthorized maritime arrivals” in offshore camps on Christmas Island, Papua New Guinea, and Nauru. The offshore detention regime was inaugurated in  by then-Prime Minister John Howard, who refused to allow some  mostly Afghan refugees, rescued by a passing Norwegian ship The Tampa, to enter Christmas Island port; the navy intervened and they were taken to Nauru in exchange for debt-relief programs worth $ million. In July , the same week Boochani arrived at Manus, Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd declared that no refugee, migrant, or asylum-seeker attempting to arrive by boat in Australia would ever be settled in the country, mandating their indefinite incarceration offshore. Although the camps are now closed (see endnote ), as of this writing there are still hundreds of refugees stranded in Papua New Guinea and Nauru, along with several hundred in detention in domestic centers in Australia. In addition to soaring rates of mental health problems, suicide, and self-harm attempts, there have been at least fifteen deaths in the offshore camps. David Farrier and others have usefully analyzed letters produced by asylumseekers detained by the Australian government. See From Nothing to Zero: Letters from Refugees in Australia’s Detention Centres (Melbourne: Lonely Planet, ). Megan K. Stack, “Behrouz Boochani Just Wants to Be Free.” The New York Times Magazine, August , , available at: www.nytimes.com//// magazine/behrouz-boochani-australia.html (last accessed August , ). Prior to No Friend, Boochani’s “poetic manifesto” “Letter from Manus Island” established him as the voice of refugee resistance. See the Saturday Paper, December , , available at: www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics//// letter-manus-island/ (last accessed August , ). Stack, “Behrouz Boochani Just Wants to Be Free.” Khachig Tölölyan, “Diaspora Studies: Past, Present and Promise.” In Routledge Handbook of Diaspora Studies, ed. Robin Cohen and Carolin Fischer (New York: Taylor & Francis, ), . See, for example, Yến Lê Espiritu’s influential defense of the term “refugee” against the assimilating tendency of diaspora and transnational studies; and David Farrier’s critique of postcolonial theory’s reliance on the “kinetic, hybridizing discourse . . . of postcolonial diaspoetics” (p. ). Sunny Xiang, Tonal Intelligence: The Aesthetics of Asian Inscrutability during the Long Cold War (Columbia: Columbia University Press, ), . Peter Nyers, Rethinking Refugees: Beyond States of Emergency (New York: Routledge, ), . Laura Madokoro, “Unwanted Refugees: Chinese Migration and the Making of a Global Humanitarian Agenda, –,” PhD dissertation, University of British Columbia, , quoted in Peter Gatrell, “Refugees – What’s Wrong with History?” Journal of Refugee Studies, , no.  (): . Lily Cho, “The Turn to Diaspora.” Topia: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies,  (): .

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

  

 Saskia Sassen, “Bordering Capabilities versus Borders: Implications for National Borders.” In Borderities and the Politics of Contemporary Mobile Borders, ed. Anne-Laure Amilhat-Szary and Frédéric Giraut (London: Palgrave Macmillan, ), .  Nyers, Rethinking Refugees, .  Behrouz Boochani, “Carceral Imaginaries: A Conversation about Poetry, Literature and Media Behind Bars” (lecture, Duke University, Franklin Humanities Institute, March , ).  A. Naomi Paik, “Create a Different Language: Behrouz Boochani and Omid Tofighian.” Public Books, April , , available at: www.publicbooks.org/ create-a-different-language-behrouz-boochani-omid-tofighian/ (last accessed August , ).  Omid Tofighian, “No Friend but the Mountains: Translator’s Reflections.” In No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison (London: Picador, ), –.  Behrouz Boochani, quoted in Omid Tofighian, “Translator’s Tale.” In No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison (London: Picador, ), xv.  Arnold Zable, “Australia’s Barbaric Policy Confronted by Boochani’s Prison Memoir.” Sydney Morning Herald, August , , available at: www.smh .com.au/national/australia-s-barbaric-policy-confronted-by-boochani-sprison-memoir--pzyt.html,  (last accessed August , ).  Tofighian, “No Friend but the Mountains: Translator’s Reflections,” .  See Didier Fassin and Mariella Pandolfi on humanitarianism and securitization in Contemporary States of Emergency: The Politics of Military and Humanitarian Interventions (Brooklyn: Zone Books, ).  Boochani, “Carceral Imaginaries.”  Nyers, Rethinking Refugees, xiii.  Suvendrini Perera, Australia and the Insular Imagination: Beaches, Borders, Boats and Bodies (London: Palgrave Macmillan, ), .  I have elsewhere theorized the way “the current configurations of nation, territory and security . . . have aligned to produce the body of the asylumseeker as a new form of twenty-first century global currency” (p. ). See Jini Kim Watson, “From Pacific Way to Pacific Solution: Sovereignty and Dependence in Oceanic Literature.” Australian Humanities Review,  (): –.  Omid Tofighian, “Create a Different Language: Behrouz Boochani and Omid Tofighian.” Interview by A. Naomi Paik, Public Books, April , , available at: www.publicbooks.org/create-a-different-language-behrouz-boo chani-omid-tofighian/ (last accessed August , ).  System-e-hākem in the Farsi original could also be translated as meaning “oppressive system,” “ruling system,” or “system of governmentality.” Tofighian, “Translator’s Tale,” xxii.  Tofighian, “No Friend but the Mountains: Translator’s Reflections,” .  Sandro Mezzadra and Brett Neilson, Border as Method, or, the Multiplication of Labor (Durham: Duke University Press, ), .

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Diaspora and Detention

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 Efthimia Panagiotidis and Vassilis Tsianos, “Denaturalizing ‘Camps’: Überwachen und Entschleunigen in der Schengener Ägäis-Zone.” In Turbulente Ränder: Neue Perspektiven auf Migration an den Grenzen Europas, ed. Transit Migration Forschungsgruppe (Bielefeld, Germany: Transcript Verlag, ), –, quoted in Mezzadra and Neilson, Border as Method, .  We see a clear consequence of the shift to a depoliticized, managerial mode of sovereignty in the  High Court of Papua New Guinea decision, which ruled the detention camps “unconstitutional” and “illegal,” and declared that the camps must be closed. In a remarkable rejoinder, Australia’s own High Court responded that the Memorandum of Understanding between Australian and PNG which brokered the detention camp deal was not dependent on “the lawfulness of government action under the law of a foreign country.” See “Australia’s Manus deal legal despite being illegal in PNG: High Court,” SBS News, August , , available at: www.sbs.com.au/news/ australia-s-manus-deal-legal-despite-being-illegal-in-png-high-court (last accessed August , ).  We could add those of similar transnational service providers like Serco and Transfield.  Brigitta Olubas, “‘Where We Are Is Too Hard’: Refugee Writing and the Australian Border as Literary Interface.” Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature, , no.  (): .  In an interview on SBS radio, Australia’s multicultural broadcaster, Boochani has spoken of his sense that journalistic language was too weak to convey the “suffering and the history of the island.”  Antony Anghie, Imperialism, Sovereignty and the Making of International Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ), .  Behrouz Boochani, “‘White Australia’ Policy Lives On in Immigration Detention,” The New York Times, September , , available at: www .nytimes.com////opinion/australia-white-supremacy-refugees.html (last accessed August , ).  Özlem Belçim Galip, Imagining Kurdistan: Identity, Culture and Society (London: Tauris & Company, ), .  Ibid., .  In , the Iranian government’s major offensive against the Kurdish Democratic Party ended the KDPI’s control of Iranian Kurdistan territory, pushing its headquarters into Iraq while the Peshmergas continued incursions into Iran. Martin van Bruinessen, Kurdish Ethno-nationalism versus NationBuilding States: Collected Articles (Istanbul: Isis, ), .  Behrouz Boochani, “Create a Different Language: Behrouz Boochani and Omid Tofighian.” Interview by A. Naomi Paik, Public Books, April , , available at: www.publicbooks.org/create-a-different-language-beh rouz-boochani-omid-tofighian/ (last accessed August , ).  Avtar Brah, Cartographies of Diaspora: Contesting Identities (London: Routledge, ), quoted in Galip, Imagining Kurdistan, .  Galip, Imagining Kurdistan, .

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  

 Ibid., .  Sanaz Fotouhi, The Literature of the Iranian Diaspora: Meaning and Identity since the Islamic Revolution (London: Tauris, ), . Interestingly, neither Fotouhi’s study, nor Daniel Grassian’s Iranian and Diasporic Literature in the st Century: A Critical Study (North Carolina: McFarland, ), mention the Kurdish community.  Yogita Goyal, “‘We Are All Migrants’: The Refugee Novel and the Claims of Universalism.” Modern Fiction Studies, , no.  (): .  Cho, “The Turn to Diaspora,” .

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 

Readings in Genre, Gender, and Genealogies

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 

Transpacific Noir Jinah Kim

She tried not to think of them too often, but she did, and the hurt had not dissipated one bit, despite everything she had done – the distance she had traveled – to displace her grief.

Don Lee, Country of Origin

Maybe I would have eventually learned to like my postwar job with a shipping broker. But there was a great restlessness inside of me, a deep longing for the land where I grew up, the easy-going people across the wide Pacific.

Carlos Bulosan, All the Conspirators

In Naomi Hirahara’s neo-noir novel, Summer of the Big Bachi, the atomic bomb scarred the face of one of the protagonists, Haruo. A hibakusha and kibei, Haruo was a child in Hiroshima when the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on August , . Now nearly eighty with a serious gambling addiction, he lives in Los Angeles among other members of the Japanese diaspora, all with their own World War II-era wounds. The left side of Haruo’s face is dominated by a keloid scar from forehead to chin. He has a fake eye, which needs constant adjusting, causing his friends to call his eyes Ron-Pari because “while one faced London, the other looked towards Paris” (p. ). When asked what caused the disfigurement: “I used to say, ‘Bomb, World War Two.’ Then the people got real quiet; didn’t wanna talk no more. Then I start changin’ my story. ‘Car crash.’ ‘Wife got mad.’ ‘Fire.’ People start noddin’ their head, tellin’ me about same kind of accident their brother, sister, in-law was in.” The silence in response to Haruo’s nuclear disclosure leads him to lie. This is one of several moments when the novel renders how the trauma of the atomic bomb becomes a taboo, shamed into a societally enforced silence. One of the narrative drives of literary and film noir are secrets. Due to the voice-over function of film noir and the intense use of first-person narration in literary noir, the audience becomes aware of the secrets of the hard-boiled protagonist, suturing the viewer/reader to their perspective. However, we are not privy 

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to the secrets kept by the criminal underbelly or the femme fatale. It is the hard-boiled anti-hero’s drive to uncover these secrets and associated crimes that propels the narrative. Secrets are linked to taboos within Freudian and psychoanalytic accounts, made into the verboten and unspeakable. Deeply hidden or bubbling near the surface of the consciousness, secrets and taboos require labor by the individual and society to repress. One reason for the enduring popularity of noir may be the catharsis offered by witnessing secrets becoming unveiled and the breaking of long suppressed taboos. The goal of this essay is to contribute to a decolonial noir genealogy by engaging the ways the transpacific roots and influences on noir have been made into secrets. I first discuss how the genre is aggressively positioned in relationship to Europe, eliding the clear history of transpacific exchanges that helped give birth to the genre. Second, I connect this exclusion to a normalization of US orientalist and settler colonialist education rooted in looking away from US histories of violence in and across the Pacific, a response that is powerfully learned and naturalized through popular culture. To return to the quoted passage from Summer of the Big Bachi, even as Haruo is forced into secrecy, the violence of the nuclear bomb lives on beyond the moment of detonation, and is clearly visible, in this case represented as a physical wound, on the body of the survivor. I open with an epigraph from Country of Origin, a haunting noir that, like Summer of the Big Bachi, traverses the militarized transpacific. This quote illustrates the social forces that demand the displacement of memories and histories of colonial violence into taboos and secrets, as well as the impossibility of erasure. I will argue that histories of violence fester by being hidden in plain sight. In these ways I liken my decolonial analysis as uncovering a secret, one that is so big, it should be impossible to keep hidden. This secret regularly emerges into consciousness, feeding anew colonialist energy that attempts to create more strategies for suppression. Given the breadth and depth of scholarly and popular analysis to which the genre has been subjected, the exclusion of the cinematic and narrative developments across the transpacific that influenced the genre reveals collaborative silencing occurring at the level of academic and popular knowledge production. By the transpacific I am referring to both an imaginative zone as well as an arena demarking US military and capitalist expansion. After the  Spanish–American war, the United States began a formal process of consolidating imperial expansion into the Asia-Pacific, including gaining dominion over the Philippines, Samoa, Guam, the Republic of the Marshall Islands (also known as the Bikini Islands), Micronesia, the Hawaiian Kingdom, among others. With the exception of Hawai’i, which becomes a US state, these territories retain a legal category of “unincorporated status,” which

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Transpacific Noir

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inaugurates a new form of imperial rule and imaginative geography. This imperial logic is cruel and denies the colonized state any agency or legal rights. The US Congress recognizes the “sovereignty” of the unincorporated territories but under the condition that they simultaneously consent to the United States exercising “complete jurisdiction and control over and within said areas.” It is under such domination, built on the fiction of the colonized’s consent, that the United States’ nuclear program flourished over the Pacific Islands. Runit Dome on Runit Island (one of forty that make up the Republic of the Marshall Islands/Bikini Islands) is important to evoke in the context of the visible/invisible and open secret dyad that I am setting up. The concrete structure was built in  as a repository to contain radioactive material left behind from nuclear experiments in the Marshalls. Unlike the mushroom clouds of atomic bombs exploded over Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Marshalls, the dome’s construction was conducted in secrecy. Called the Tomb by Marshallese, the dome is currently leaking radioactive materials into the Ocean. Among many functions, the dome is meant to “conclude US moral obligations to the Marshalls” for the decades of nuclear testing. While the radiation itself is not visible to the naked eye, the impact of the radiation is devastating and wide ranging to the people and ecology of the Marshalls. Consider in contrast the “bikini” swimsuit, which received this moniker for both its imagined resemblance to the physical shape of Bikini Islands, the Marshall Islands’ other name, and as an homage to the nuclear testing over the islands, as the skimpy outfit would “explode” conventional morality. As Teresia Teaiwa writes, nuclear violence is appropriated and commodified by US colonial discourse to disguise the horror of the bomb. Along with its hidden counterpart, the “Tomb,” the “bikini” exemplifies the way that hypervisibility is a normalizing strategy of US empire. This hidden and hyper visible dyad is the basis for the naturalization and looking away central to settler colonial violence in the United States. Decolonizing the accounts that interlink Oceania with the continents across them requires intervening in how Western academia receives and analyzes Oceania’s place in the historical record. Noir is famously linked to the World War II and Cold war eras and is connected to the moral inequity associated with war. There is generally great energy contested in the field as to whether the genre is an American original or derived from Europe. Marc Vernet stages a version of this debate with his argument, “The Americans made it and then the French invented it . . . noir is like a Harley-Davidson: you know right away what it is, the object only the synecdoche of a continent, a history, and a civilization, or more precisely of their presentation for non-natives.” However, as opposed to the Harley, I have argued in my book Postcolonial Grief 

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 

that we should look toward another machine, the Atomic Bomb and the age of “industrial killing,” to which the genre should be associated. Even the bombs dropped over Nagasaki and Hiroshima are named after characters in noir classics, The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man. And, while there is clear dialogue between filmic and intellectual accomplishments of World War II-era Hollywood with the contributions of European exiles in the United States, only looking toward Europe “is a rendering of history that forgets that it was under Occupation and the Marshall Plan that Japan and Germany become acquainted with Hollywood and American noir.” US film technology and imagination was advanced on the Pacific theater. Consider that over  percent of existing film in the United States was used to shoot the denotation of the nuclear bomb Castle Bravo in  over the Marshall Islands. Footage taken during US wars in Asia was an opportunity to advance film by combining it with military aerial technology. In addition, technology and content are developing in concert as US military expands into the Asia-Pacific. Noir’s narrative content focuses on detectives and pseudo-police who uncover unsavory secrets or hide crimes. The height of the noir period in the s moves beyond the logic of the World War II-era US-led global war to US direct and covert interventions within the newly-formed nation-states released from formal colonized status but tethered to their former colonizers. In particular, noir can help map how US methods for policing and covert operations that are being developed and enhanced directly within the Asia-Pacific as laboratories for working out these methods are influencing the US cultural sphere. In the next section, I focus on how the people and islands within the Pacific and across the transpacific are invisibilized within the classical genre of noir and the scholarly and popular treatment of it. I then conduct a close reading of Carlos Bulosan’s All the Conspirators (s), a noir novel which was written in secret and undiscovered until the s. I place Bulosan’s concerns about FBI surveillance over his communication with Philippine labor leaders, and the novel’s themes about the difficulty of adjudicating World War II-era war crimes in post-war Philippines context, to the afterlives and reverberations of the Pacific Wars, when shifts in US surveillance and policing develop directly in relation to US military expansion and global anti-Communism in the Cold War period.

Nuclear Diasporas and Transpacific Secrets The anxiety over the secrets that shroud atomic modernity is mediated in no other genre as much as noir. In “The Big Secret: Film Noir and Nuclear

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Transpacific Noir

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Fear,” Mark Osteen writes that in the World War II period, “the primary taboo was atomic power, and particularly its most destructive manifestation, the atomic bomb. During the war, of course, the bomb was never mentioned, and when it was, it was given a title that reflected its mystery: ‘the Big Secret’.” While it is true that nuclear technology is a deeply held state secret, a part of the power that nuclear weapons gives the holder is displaying the bomb’s destructive powers. One of the most visible signs of terror were atomic bomb explosions and the fetish of the damage they caused. The mushroom cloud is one of the most popular visual images in the global imaginary. Thinner on the bottom and rising above to a symmetrical cloud above, this iconic shape of transcendental technology has stood in for large scale catastrophe and the sublime. The mushroom cloud is a parable for the way that secrets have a dual component, the hidden as well as visible. Even as nuclear angst pervades noir, the connections of this anxiety to US military expansion and colonialism over the Pacific Arena is consistently elided, both in the genre and in the scholarly treatment of it. Released one year after the much publicized explosion of Castle Bravo over the Bikini Islands, Kiss Me Deadly () is considered the definitive nihilistic noir, and one of the most analyzed films in popular and scholarly presses. Scholars and fans are drawn to the film’s style, complex camera work, and rendering of moral inequity. At the narrative center of the film involves the search for a box containing unknown content. The film ends with the villain opening the box, causing an atomic explosion, and the two protagonists running into the Pacific Ocean fleeing the blinding light behind them. In reading the scholarship and popular reception of the film, the utter absence and lack of mention of the nuclear testing in the South West and Pacific Islands that the film may be influenced by, especially given the highly publicized and fetishized nature of nuclear testing there, is notable. A thorough analysis of scholarship around “nuclear noirs,” including The House on nd Street (), Notorious (), and White Heat (), demonstrates overall silence around the material consequences of the nuclear bomb, with nuclear violence sublated for postmodern existential angst. To follow-up on the hyper visible/invisible dyad I opened with, my decolonial reading of transpacific noir is developed through the investigation of the quotidian and everyday, that is, how histories of violence is hidden in plain sight. One such example is a regular reference to the “Pacific” suffusing the genre, appearing as a name for a business, location, and marker connected to violence. In Double Indemnity (), Walter Neff works at the Pacific Insurance Company, and in The Lady from Shanghai (), the

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femme fatale asks the hardboiled detective to wait for her at the Pacific Building. The Big Sleep () opens with the body of a dead man, a key figure in the crime that unfolds in the novel, washing up from the Pacific Ocean. However, while the Pacific is named regularly, no film or novel of the classic noir period is actually set in the Pacific islands. This can in part be explained by the fact that noirs were a part of the B-picture division, which meant that they were set to a limited budget and schedule to shoot. Austerity measures in place during the great depression and then World War II heightened the limited budget of noir. This austerity is lifted in the s, but unlike the opulent musicals of the s like the musical South Pacific (), dramas like From Here to Eternity () and Return to Paradise (), which make the islands the center of their stories, noir continues to reference the Pacific but does not actually visualize it. The Pacific as simply a name for a place that is ever present and hiding violence performs what Eric Lott has termed an alibi function of noir. Eric Lott’s  article “The Whiteness of Film Noir” is notable for marking the shift of scholarly writings about noir from a focus on production and film theory to the genre’s racial composition. Lott argues that while the purposeful association of light with good and black with evil in the characteristic chiaroscuro style of noir has been noted as a matter of style and technique, in fact Black and Blackened bodies are ever present in noir. He argues “My purpose is to ask why, as yet, no one has challenged the association in these films of the self’s and society’s darkness with a racial dimension and why that dimension in the form of striking black appearances on film has seemed merely marginal, local, and insubstantial.” Lott seeks to give a language to the anti-Black and racist American psyche that the genre exposes. It is not merely that the genre was playing with lightness and darkness as a matter of style, but that the genre is a manifestation of the white American obsession with Blackness. Further, through the placement of African Americans and people of color in the margins, whites were also able to displace their guilt onto racially marginalized bodies, thus maintaining the sanctity of whiteness. While Lott’s article is significant in reorienting the field toward a consideration of race, what is notable are the ways that Lott was unable to look beyond the Black/white boundary as a way of understanding Otherness. Take, for example, this reading: when a black janitor calls Keyes over to the insurance company to finger Neff in his office, the black presence here [is] an embodiment of the outer darkness to which Neff has traveled and perhaps the visible sign of his guilt

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returning mid-confession to indict him. It is no accident that Neff at the end wants to escape across the Mexican border.

What about that which is not manifest in the margins but hidden in plain sight? The scene that Lott describes in Double Indemnity above is near the end of the film. The hardboiled protagonist Neff is an insurance agent and he has killed the husband of the femme fatale, Phyllis Dietrichson, and enabled it so that she could receive his accidental death insurance through cover-up. As Neff finally wises up to the fact that Phyllis is irremediably evil, he retreats to his insurance company to confess to his crime. While it is true in the film that it is the Black janitor who “fingers Neff in his office,” his office is the Pacific Insurance company. To add to the transpacific component of the Double Indemnity, in the novel version it is Neff’s Filipino “house boy” who serves as Neff’s alibi. Lott’s geographical marker of “cordon sanitaire” limits our understanding of imperial formations that do not fit the inclusion/exclusion, inside/outside frameworks. To refer back to the unincorporated status of US colonies across Oceania and in the Asia-Pacific, Chamorro scholar Michael Lujan Bevacqua has theorized “banal imperialism” as a process of looking away from Guam’s “unincorporated” status. In the twenty-first century, Guam remains one of the sixteen nonself-governing territories in the world. This looking away is abetted by the imaginative geography of unincorporation, which is neither inside nor outside, marginal or central. It is a liminality without a place, that is “foreign in a domestic sense.” Like American Indians on the mainland whose names are in streets, names of towns, and sites of geography that are imagined to have died, “Pacific” as a name on a place indicates nonbeings who are imagined as not actually there. They are spectral beings. Keeping secrets drives the noir narrative. Fredric Jameson has argued that genre represents a kind of “social contract between a writer and a specific public.” In the case of mainstream film and literary noir, this social contract upholds the secrecy of US imperialism over the Pacific Arena. By bringing up, but flying over the Pacific, by referencing the Pacific but then bringing up images of Asia or California, the transpacific aspects of noir manages to keep the Pacific history hidden in plain sight, as a history of colonial desires that are ultimately too powerful to be completely repressed.

Transpacific Noir and the Counter-Insurgency Carlos Bulosan’s posthumous All the Conspirators (s; ) is likely the first Asian American noir novel. Discovered by a student in the

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s during a research trip in the Philippines to learn more about Bulosan’s legacy, the manuscript was found among Bulosan’s papers, but had the author named as “Dunstan Peyton,” leaving some doubt as to whether Bulosan was the author. Filipino leftists, including Bulosan and members of his circle in the United States, were subject to state surveillance during the period immediately following the end of World War II into the Cold War period, targeted for their support for the Hukbalahap (Huk) insurgency in the Philippines. Concern about keeping his work secret from US state surveillance apparatus may have led to Bulosan writing in pseudonym. My analysis of the novel argues that All the Conspirators subverts the conventions of noir to map notions of evil, justice, and accountability beyond what was covered by the existing War Crimes Tribunals of the period, which focused only on Japanese war crimes. The novel highlights instead the quotidian way that post-war US imperialist control over the Philippines threatened to be manifest and naturalized. Bulosan’s turn to secrecy adds new layers to the settler colonialist genealogy of transpacific occlusion I recited above, revealing how fears of state violence silenced and manipulated knowledge by and about Filipinos in the diaspora. All the Conspirators is set in the Philippines in the immediate post–World War II era, as the newly-independent nation is grappling with adjudicating brutal war crimes which occurred during the Japanese occupation period, which took place between  and . As the novel develops it becomes clear that the conspirators of the title does not refer only to damages done by Filipinos who conspired with the Japanese occupiers, but also by Americans in their bid to restore control over their lost colony. As with the Marshall Islands and Guam, the Philippines became an US unincorporated territory after the  US–Spanish war. During World War II, the country, occupied by Japan, is a battleground. The central drama of the novel is the death of an American and hundreds of thousands of US dollars which went missing. A Filipino American US “commando” soldier had smuggled in dollars to give to Clem Mayo, an American born in the Philippines. Clem was to distribute these funds to Huk insurgents to support guerrilla efforts to overthrow the Japanese. As Tampa, Clem’s daughter, led the American soldier to her father’s hiding place, they were all ambushed. While the soldier’s dead body was found, the money disappeared along with Clem and Tampa. They were presumed dead, until one day, Clem’s widow, femme fatale Candy, discovers Clem’s ring at a local shop in Manila’s Chinatown. The novel opens with Candy, writing to Gar Stanley, asking him to return to the Philippines to help her

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find Clem. True to noir, we do not realize that it is Candy’s greed to find the lost money and cover up her role as a collaborator to the Japanese that is driving the story until the last few pages of the novel. Written in the paradigmatic noir style with a heavy first-person narration, All the Conspirators features Gar Stanley, a white American former GI, as its hard-boiled detective. Like Clem and Candy, he is an American born in the Philippines to white American expat parents. This power imbalance is referenced in the novel, as Stanley’s father becomes wealthy by becoming an owner of a gold mine (expanding the Gold Rush narrative past California across the Pacific), while Filipino elites in the novel are dependent on American aid and funding, not only to rebuild in the post– World War II era, but to fund the insurgency during World War II. While Stanley inherits part of the mine, he doesn’t have enough money to run it. Despite his relative poverty, he is wooed by the wealthy Filipino elite when he returns after World War II. These paragraphs in the first few pages of the novel establish the central motifs structuring the novel – money and American longing for the Philippines. It is through these motifs that the novel’s underlying concerns about justice and criminality related to state violence, policing, and legacies of Japanese and American colonialism in the Philippines are negotiated: Her letter had struck me like a warm sweet breath of sampaguita one particularly dreary morning when the wind howled down the canyons of Market Street and the air was mournful with the promise of faraway rain. “Dear Gar,” Candy wrote, “I am in trouble and need you. I have just received conclusive evidence that Clem is still alive. I want to find him, but I need your assistance. Please help me.” That was the whole letter, no explanations. There was no apparent concern on her part that she was asking me to toss away a lucrative, though dull, job. But that was Candy. (p. )

Snidely and cavalierly, Gar tosses away a “lucrative” job. It is notable that the job is as a shipping broker. Transpacific shipping industries, from the turn of the twentieth century until the rise of airline industry, were central in facilitating the expansion of US capitalism into the Asia-Pacific. In addition, these freight cargo and passenger ships carried thousands of militarized migrants across the Pacific, like Carlos Bulosan. Usually in noir the hardboiled detective possesses an underlying moral weakness that makes it possible for him to socialize in seedy locales and criminal elements – in this novel it is Gar Stanley’s position as an American colonialist which allows him to treat money cavalierly but also have mastery over it. Through money he is able to purchase confidence, buy intel, and gain

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entry into the deepest of Filipino subcultures. This is a personalized and everyday representation of what US state level economic dominion over the Philippines looks like. After World War II, although the United States formally granted the Philippines freedom, subsequent provisions adjudicated in the War Tribunals and unequal treaties between nations to give aid to the devasted Philippine nation maintained US control over key aspects of Philippine politics and economy into the present moment. The infamous Bell Trade Act () passed by the US congress and protested by the Hukbalahap, for example, allowed American citizens parity with Filipinos in the ownership and operation of public utilities. Hence, the multiple references in the novel to the gold mine that Gar inherited and still owns in post-independence Philippines. The second theme present in the quote and recurring in the novel is American longing for the Philippines, particularly evoking nostalgia and youthful desire. While “warm sweet breath of sampaguita” functions as a sensorial and affective field enveloping him like a drug, Candy’s pull for Gar is that she was his childhood love. She was lost to him when she married Clem after Gar went to college in the United States. Desire and loss which structures Gar’s longing for the Philippines evokes Renato Rosaldo’s formulation of “imperialist nostalgia,” where colonialists use a “pose of ‘innocent yearning’ both to capture people’s imaginations and to conceal its complicity with often brutal domination.” The trope of innocence lost or in peril is repeatedly brought up in the novel, often combined with Gar Stanley’s observations about the changed landscape of the Philippines. The imperialist pose of innocence also gives a deeper meaning of Gar Stanley’s positionality as a dupe. Gar regularly causes harm and deaths in his bungling but is driven by seemingly goodhearted attempts to find a lost friend for a former lover. These affective relations present poses of “innocent yearning,” which the novel deconstructs to illuminate one of the its most cogent criticisms – there are no Americans in the Philippines who are absent from guilt. Clem and Gar are both dupes, but not innocent. They never actually help Filipinos gain freedom, despite their clumsy attempts at aid. All their actions instead lead to deaths. Until the very end of the novel, Gar’s search for Clem is actually helping Candy cover up her crimes as a collaborator to the Japanese during the war. During the war, while Clem and Tampa remained with the guerillas in the mountain of Baguio, hidden by the regions’ indigenous populations, Candy returned back to her marital home in Manila, which had been taken over by Japanese military leaders, and secured a job in her own kitchen by pretending to be an

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Igorot. There, she betrayed Clem and the guerillas by passing on information they gave her to the Japanese military. However, the novel refuses to differentiate Clem and Candy’s colonial violence, noting that Clem had Candy’s skin “stained dark brown so that I could pass for a native” (p. ). To reflect back on the sympathies that Bulosan was exhibiting for the Huks, which may be the reason why he wrote in pseudonym, Rick Baldoz explains that the CIA was concerned about US Filipino support for radicals and communists in the Philippines as these leftists were also critical of the new forms of US imperialisms taking hold in the Philippines. Bulosan’s letters to Luis Taruc, the leader of the Hukbalahap peasant movement, were “eventually discovered by Philippine police . . . Consequently, federal authorities redoubled efforts to disrupt transnational ties linking Filipino partisans in the United States and the Philippines.” Baldoz continues that one of the promises Bulosan pledges in his letters to Taruc is his plan “to use his connections in Hollywood to sell a screenplay adaptation about the Huks that would be made into a movie.” Scholars have looked to such references in the Bulosan archives to surmise that All the Conspirators is Bulosan’s novel. The novel’s motifs of money and American longing culminate in the novel’s end, where the Philippine secret service and police rescue Gar from Candy and her coterie of Filipino elite collaborators. By surveilling Gar, these collaborators located Clem and killed him. Tampa managed to escape with the money, however, and Gar finds her. Not yet realizing that Candy had Clem killed, Gar returns to her in Manila with Tampa and the money. On his return, Clem is ambushed, attacked, and left for dead. As Candy and her collaborators try to escape, they are captured and killed by the Philippine secret service and police. The secret service had always been suspicious of Candy and, when she attacked Gar and stole the money, this gave them the final proof they needed to apprehend her. By having the ending revolve not only around Candy’s duplicity, but hundreds of thousands of US dollars, the novel ingeniously highlights the ever-present presence of the US military without actually having to have a US military body at the scene. This spectral and all-being presence of the US military power infiltrates the novel in other ways as well. Scholars have documented how the militarization of the Philippines police force is an architecture shaped in response to US fears over anti-imperial insurgency against US occupation after the end of the Philippine War of , which began the formal period of US occupation of the Philippines. The US military formed a constabulary system that combined policing with military powers. Philip Kramer describes the Philippine Constabulary (PC) as

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  an insular police force under [US] control, which would in many ways function as a colonial army in police uniform, waging wars in areas otherwise designated as “pacified.” . . . Returning US soldiers, freed up by the transfer of military power to the Philippine Scouts and Constabulary, were perhaps the most potent, if illusory, signs to the American audiences of an insurrection well ended.

The establishment of the PC has been variously challenged, split, and reconstituted throughout the twentieth and twenty-first century, but the militarized police has maintained the ability to yield tremendous power with impunity throughout the entirety of the Philippine nation-hood. Furthermore, the novel mediates this complex militarized-colonial reality shaping contemporary Philippines by commenting on the difficulty in defining, finding, and adjudicating collaborators by the police and secret service. The dispensing of Candy before she can be tried highlights not only a generic convention of noir to punish femme fatales, but points to the limitations of War Crimes Trials overall in dispensing any meaningful justice. War Crimes Trial or the Philippine Trials of Japanese War Criminals () had not yet occurred in the time of the novel but is given as the reason for which Candy is panicked when she thinks Clem may be alive given what he knows. The War Crimes Trial, and the numerous Peoples Trials that followed, were local corollaries to the macro International Military Tribunal for the Far East (–). In both cases scholars, activists, and survivors have maintained that these international juridical arrangements did not enact justice for the victims of war atrocities, instead consolidating American power, erasing histories of Japanese war brutality, and amplifying the inequalities they putatively sought to resolve. In the Philippines, for example, the only people who were tried were those who were charged with the crime of being a traitor to the Philippines state, which also included being a traitor to the United States, to which the Philippines was the former colony. Furthermore, several presidential clemencies annulled the military collaborators charged by these tribunals, putting people who had testified in grave danger, and made it clear that these official juridical systems were not committed to justice for the victims of war crimes. The first mention of the dilemmas raised by the identification of collaborators is raised by a Filipino informant, Goyo, whom Gar Stanley meets in his attempt to find some footing in tracking down Clem. Goyo warns Gar, “you must be careful what questions you ask and who you ask them to. There is much more to this ring business than you think. Don’t forget: the war may be over but not the terror” (p. ). A few pages later,

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his second informant, Agna, who is killed for talking to him relays “Do you know who is the enemy? . . . Do we have the same enemy? . . . You do know what the war was like for us. Our enemy was not the invaders only. It was ourselves” (p. ). After he meets up with Gar again after Agna is killed, Goyo puts these concerns into the War Crimes framework: The war is over now . . . and the people who played with the enemy want us to forget what they did. They try to pretend they were with us but we know differently. Now they are afraid of being arrested and tried by the War Crimes Court. So they have organized themselves. They punish anyone who speaks against them. We are all afraid. (p. )

These passages raise concerns about the structure of justice itself and the violence of a judicial system that is not driven by a victim-centered approach: the danger of adjudication abetting state sponsored forgetting; the lines drawn on who and what is considered redressable in ways that denies anything that challenges the legitimacy of the state; and the ways that unresolved violence of war live on and mutate into new forms of terror and violence. Expressed by these protean characters who are marginal to this international adjudication of injustice, Bulosan offers a powerful and subtle critique of the newly developing Philippines nation-state still tethered to US colonial dominance.

Conclusion The genre of noir is particularly well suited to study secrets, taboos, and the hidden. Secrets drive the plot in the films and novels. Taboos are the visible invisible, and the desire to keep them hidden maintains the compulsion to think about them. In reading Bulosan’s All the Conspirators against the history of erasure of histories of violence across the Pacific that I detailed in this essay, I hoped to show how transpacific noir serves a method, a repository of anti-colonial memories, location of abjection, and an opportunity to play with generic expectations that keeps a record of the violence of empire.

Notes  Don Lee, Country of Origin: A Novel (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, ), .  Carlos Bulosan, All the Conspirators (Seattle: University of Washington Press, ), –. All subsequent citations appear in parentheses.  Naomi Hirahara, Summer of the Big Bachi (Detroit: Thomson Gale, ).

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 Sigmund Freud, “The ‘Uncanny’” (). In The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. , ed. James Strachey (London: Hogarth Press, ): –.  Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality: Volume ; An Introduction, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Vintage, ), .  This is the language from the Platt Agreement, one of the core documents shaping the abrogated rights of the unincorporated territories. Amy Kaplan, “Where Is Guantanamo?” American Quarterly, , no.  (): .  Susanne Rust, “How the US Betrayed the Marshall Islands, Kindling the Next Nuclear Disaster.” Los Angeles Times, November , , available at: www .latimes.com/projects/marshall-islands-nuclear-testing-sea-level-rise/ (last accessed August , ).  Teresia K. Teaiwa, “Bikinis and Other s/pacific n/oceans.” The Contemporary Pacific, , no.  (): .  A consensus in the field is that the term “film noir” was first coined by French film critics Nino Frank and Jean-Pierre Chartier, who in different film reviews described the gritty American films “noir,” seeing American cinema for the first time since World War II era German occupation. Nino Frank, “A New Kind of Police Drama: The Criminal Adventure,” trans. Alain Silver, Film Noir Reader , ed. Adam Silver and James Ursini (Limelight, New York, ), . Originally published in L’écran français, August , .  Marc Vernet, “Film Noir on the Edge of Doom.” In Shades of Noir: A Reader, ed. Joan Copjec (New York: Verso, ), –, .  Jinah Kim, Postcolonial Grief: The Afterlives of the Pacific Wars in the Americas (Durham: Duke University Press, ).  See Robert Serber and Robert P. Crease, Peace & War: Reminiscences of a Life on the Frontiers of Science (New York: Columbia University Press, ).  Kim, Postcolonial Grief, .  Elizabeth DeLoughrey, Akira Lippit, and Paul Virilio, among others, have historicized the links between US film technology and the military.  Connie Goldsmith, Bombs over Bikini: The World’s First Nuclear Disaster (Minneapolis: Twenty-First Century Books, ).  Mark Osteen, “The Big Secret: Film Noir and Nuclear Fear.” Journal of Popular Film and Television, , no.  (): .  See Christopher Nolan, The Dark Night Rises (Warner Bros., ), for example.  See Alain Silver, “Kiss Me Deadly: Evidence of Style.” In Film Noir Reader (New York: Limelight, ). Numerous noir scholars have taken up this film with similar conclusions, for example Raymond Borde and Etienne Chaumeton, in A Panorama of American Film Noir (–), trans. Paul Hammond (San Francisco: City Lights Books, ), and Robert Lang, “Looking for the ‘Great Whatzit’: Kiss Me Deadly and Film Noir.” Cinema Journal, , no.  (): –.  Eric Lott, “The Whiteness of Film Noir.” American Literary History, , no.  (): –.

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Transpacific Noir    

         

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Ibid., . Ibid., –. Ibid., . Michael Lujan Bevacqua, “The Exceptional Life and Death of a Chamorro Soldier: Tracing the Militarization of Desire in Guam, USA.” In Militarized Currents: Toward a Decolonized Future in Asia and the Pacific, ed. Setsu Shigematsu and Keith L. Camacho (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, ), –. Amy Kaplan, The Anarchy of Empire in the Making of U.S. Culture (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, ), . Philip Joseph Deloria, Playing Indian (New Haven: Yale University Press, ). Fredric Jameson, The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act (London: Routledge, ), . Caroline S. Hau and Benedict Anderson, introduction to All the Conspirators, by Carlos Bulosan, vii–xxvii. Rick Baldoz, “‘Comrade Carlos Bulosan’: U.S. State Surveillance and the Cold War Suppression of Filipino Radicals.” The Asia-Pacific Journal, , no.  (). Renato Rosaldo, Culture & Truth: The Remaking of Social Analysis (Boston: Beacon Press, ), . Baldoz, “Comrade Carlos Bulosan,” . Ibid., . Paul A. Kramer, The Blood of Government: Race, Empire, the United States, & the Philippines (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, ), . Gender-based violence, among other forms of violence, were seen as incidental and unaddressed. Konrad Lawson, “Wartime Atrocities and the Politics of Treason in the Ruins of the Japanese Empire, –” (PhD dissertation, Harvard University, ), . In , President Roxas’s amnesty was applied to all except military collaborators and traitors, and President Quirino put into place the  executive clemency to free Japanese war prisoners and Filipinos charged by People’s Courts. Konrad Lawson, “Universal Crime, Particular Punishment: Trying the Atrocities of the Japanese Occupation as Treason in the Philippines, –.” Comparativ, , no.  (): –.

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From Nothing to Something Black Speculative Fiction and the Trayvon Generation Justin L. Mann

In the summer of , Nalo Hopkinson, award-winning speculative fiction author of Brown Girl in the Ring (), Midnight Robber (), and House of Whispers Vol. : The Power Divided (), gave the keynote address for the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts. What began as a normal speech quickly transformed into something altogether different. Adopting the persona of an alien consciousness inhabiting the body of a horse clad in a t-shirt reading “Speaker to White people,” Hopkinson delivered a satirical critique of the ICFA, the Journal of the Fantastic, and the subdiscipline of science fiction studies. Pitched as an intercultural confusion, Hopkinson’s speech underscores the field’s refusal to see its own neocolonial and liberal delusions of blamelessness. Staged as an attempt by the visitor to understand those relationships, Hopkinson offers a series of dubious statements and then decodes their fallacious logic. She begins “You say: I am not Racist. Primary translation: I can wade through feces without getting any of it on me,” then describes how the statement appears out of sync with conventional wisdom as deluded. “We must be forced to conclude that you are as laissez-faire in your response to people who think they can fly . . . Few of us are willing to visit a planet where we would clearly have to dodge plummeting bodies with every step.” The visitor continues with greater urgency, enumerating the fallacies that mark approaches to racial difference in the fantastic arts, interrogating discourses of universality and particularity, ownership and appropriation, and civilization and primitivism. Ultimately, the visitor’s connection fails, and Hopkinson returns to continue with her address as planned, an address that is itself as biting a critique of speculative fiction (SF) scholars as it is of fans, and one that importantly reminds us that “at a very deep level, one of the things that fantasy and science fiction do is to use mythmaking to examine and explore socioeconomically configured ethnoracial power imbalances.” Advancements in Black speculative fiction have been many and varied in the decade plus, since Hopkinson’s speech. Ryan Coogler’s Black 

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Panther () broke box-office and critical expectations. In the same year, N. K. Jemisin became the first Black woman to win the Hugo Award for Best Novel and the first person of any race to win three years running and for each entry in her Broken Earth Trilogy (–). In print comics, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Nnedi Okorafor, and Roxane Gay joined Hopkinson and Jemisin with major prints run for Marvel Comics, DC Comics, and Vertigo comics. Jordan Peele’s Blumhaus Studios has also set records, with its premier title Get Out () earning both critical and commercial success. In music, Beyoncé (Lemonade, ) and Janelle Monáe (Dirty Computer, ) enjoined the speculative to Black feminist and queer expression. To crib from Hopkinson, in the last decade, Black SF has assessed the relationship between race and the world, often negotiating the narrow straits of pleasure and pain that characterize post-millennial Black life. It is of course the case that speculation has suffused Black creative enterprise since the origins of enslavement. What is more speculative than the prospect of freedom to an enslaved person? Yet, there seems to be something special about post-millennial Black culture that situates Blackness in explicit relationship to the speculative. This essay assesses the special relationship between Blackness and speculative fiction by examining two related phenomena of the last decade. First, I plot a course of the elaboration of Black SF in the academy. Although the concept of Afrofuturism was central to this elaboration, literary and cultural studies of Black SF often exceed Afrofuturism as a category. I use Afrofuturism as a point of departure for understanding the theoretical and pedagogical implications of the incorporation of Black SF into American literature classes. Second, I narrow the post-millennial context to consider the relationship between Black SF and global Movements for Black Lives in what Elizabeth Alexander describes as “The Trayvon Generation.” Alexander’s formulation speaks to both the historiographic and analytic arguments I present here; while she critically interrogates those children who came of age knowing and saying names including Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, and Sandra Bland, I argue here that the “Trayvon Generation” should also be broadly imagined to address scholars in Black studies and its adjacent fields, who developed their critical praxis amidst the decades-long Movement for Black Lives. Further, contriving a “field imaginary” for Diaspora and Literary Studies especially in relation to Black SF requires attending to the spatial and temporal arrangements that construct it. Writing from the vantage of the summer , in quarantine during the COVID- pandemic and in the midst of global mobilization against police violence and

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abolition movements on a scale unimaginable months ago, understanding the metaphysical and epiphenomenal conditions that produce ideas including Blackness and speculation is crucial for interrogating the boundaries of literary criticism and the sociocultural space that exists just beyond its border. As such, I analyze the short story “The Finkelstein ,” from Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s debut short story collection Friday Black (). The story follows a young Black man as he reaches the limitations of race-consciousness in the aftermath of the acquittal of a white man for the brutal murder of five black children, and as he strives to reach beyond the boundaries circumscribing Black life and love in era defined by antiBlack murder and the failures of the juridical order to establish justice. This essay argues that the shift of Black speculative fiction from the periphery of literary study to its center is inextricably linked to the increase in coverage of anti-Black violence and global resistance to that violence. Moreover, I argue that the contemporary Movement for Black Lives hinges on the speculative in order to make sense of the senselessness of anti-Blackness and to reach beyond the known frontier of an antiBlack world.

Black SF and the “Trayvon Generation” My own thinking about race and speculative fiction developed in the aftermath of the / attacks and in the midst of the prolonged War on Terror. I commenced my doctoral studies in , in the immediate “wake,” to use Christina Sharpe’s term, of the murder of Trayvon Martin. The year  was a confounding one: although President Barack Obama held on to the presidency, despite the resonating forces of anti-Blackness that assailed his administration, Trayvon Martin’s murder by George Zimmerman and the ensuing acquittal of Zimmerman one year later reinforced the conceptual tensions between racial “progress” and regress. The contradiction was heightened by the Obama Administration’s expansion of neoimperial wars in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and South and Central Asia, wars whose practices worked in tandem with the militarization of domestic policing that targeted Black and immigrant populations. By , dozens of other names would fill the national roster of Black people killed in the course of living their lives, and many of those murders would be underscored because the police were their murderers. The  murder of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, and the ensuing occupation of the township by conflicting local, state, and federal law enforcement officials and

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armed military personnel, sought to curtail the growing movement for Black lives even as it ironically highlighted the danger of a militarized police force. As I write, protests continue across the United States and throughout the globe demanding an end to the violence of racialized policing and a new and vibrant conversation about the relative problems and merits of police (and prison) abolition has reached national attention. I have recounted this brief history to highlight the forces that critically shaped my relationship to Black SF, and to Black studies more broadly. While, for some, these forces have led to intellectual despair, for others they have generated thought at the critical juncture between the anti-Black world we know and the world of Black flourishing on the horizon. In the following section, I consider the triangulation between Blackness, antiBlackness, and speculation as they have evolved over the last decade. Taking Hopkinson’s speech before the ICFA as a point of departure, I chart the evolution of Black SF and its criticism in the same period. I then turn to being and time, two key concepts in Black SF studies. While these categories often appear in the worlds of theoretical physics and philosophy, their manifestation and imbrication in contemporary Black SF and Black SF criticism speaks to the relationship between speculation and the materiality of Black life. Although it was not the first academic monograph to deal explicitly with the relationship between Blackness and speculative fiction, andré carrington’s Speculative Blackness () is a key text in the field formation of Black SF studies. This is due in part to carrington’s expert historiographic description of SF studies in both black and white. He writes that is it important “to consider changing the set of texts that we invoke when we posit examples of what composes speculative fiction. We would assemble a radically unconventional portrait of speculative fiction indeed if we were to highlight works by black authors and artist that do not, at first glance, fulfill the expectations of the average SF reader.” carrington distinguishes between the “Whiteness of science fiction” and “the speculative fiction of Blackness,” describing the disjuncture between these two in terms of how race inflects generic idioms and, more importantly, how race itself becomes idiomatic. This is, perhaps, precisely what Hopkinson was trying to perform in her speech to the ICFA: that tension and disjuncture between these two fields of literary and cultural production necessarily inform how texts are read, consumed, and understood by critics. Take, for example, carrington’s reading of the superheroine Storm. For carrington, Storm’s appearance in the X-Men “is a sign that radically different and more inclusive variations on the myth of ‘mutant’ identity might become

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legible.” As a character, Storm indexes the varied terrain of (super) humanity as she experiences it in ways constituted by her multiple identity formations: “she represents, Black, female, Black and female, superhero, Black superhero, female superhero, and Black female superhero.” From the mutant, to the monster, to the alien, to the microbe, speculative narratives trace and chart alternative genealogies of the human, and Black speculative fictions critically interrogate the relationship of race and racialized gender to constructions of the human as a social, political, and cultural category. Answers to this question are often refracted through the work of Octavia E. Butler and through the work of Black feminist theorists Sylvia Wynter and Hortense Spillers. For example, in “Interstices, a Small Drama of Words,” Spillers writes that, through enslavement, the Black woman “became the principal point of passage between the human and the non-human world.” For Spillers, Wynter, and others, the human is thus a fraught category, laden with biological and social material mobilized to delimit political participation and social belonging, a project born in the crucible of enslavement and colonial oppression. The dehumanizing process of enslavement has had a lasting impact on contemporary notions of the human, super- and inhuman, and the conglomeration of humanity. As Alexander Weheliye explains, “The literal dehumanization of black people through chattel slavery, as well as the legal, political, anthropological, scientific, economic, and cultural forces supporting and enforcing this system, afforded black subjects no easy passage to the sign of the human.” As Weheliye and others show, this did not end with the abolition of enslavement but rather continues in the various structures that reproduce slavery’s social function into the present. In short, Black SF highlights the inherent fallacies of the human by showing their imbrication with the operations of coordinated identities including race and gender and, unlike other versions of posthumanist or new materialist discourse, centers those elements in its construction of new social, political, and cultural paradigms. A second and related element used to critically interrogate the limit of the human is temporality. The project of understanding the relationship between the history of enslavement and its “afterlife,” and Black speculative fiction, is perhaps best drawn together by the use of Butler’s speculative fiction in Saidiya Hartman’s “Venus in Two Acts.” Hartman describes Butler’s protagonist Dana from her neoslave narrative Kindred () as engaging in a critical practice of “critical fabulation.” As Hartman explains, Dana returns to her ancestral enslavement to understand the relationship between her past, present, and future realities. She and the

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reader “must bear what cannot be borne: the image of Venus in chains.” carrington and Hartman both engage the cultural work of Black SF, highlighting its engagement with and undermining of the boundaries of the human. Through engagement with the estrangement and advancement of human biological and mental capacities, these scholars highlight the fraught conception of the category and show that Blackness is not only reducible to the non- or inhuman but also, in carrington’s case, highlight the ways that Blackness can advance a new and different idea of human embodiment and consciousness. What Hartman identifies as the unique capacity here is situated between the construction of the human and the temporality of Blackness. Black SF uniquely enables the travel through time and space to witness the moment in which the category of the human came into being through the imbricated projects of enslavement and native dispossession, an act Kara Keeling describes as uniquely visible through imaginative practice. As such, scholars have described the ongoing project of racial capitalism in terms of the “afterlives of slavery.” As Michelle Wright describes, the Middle Passage Epistemology, which posits a teleological progress narrative that begins with enslavement in West Africa and moves toward spatio-temporal “freedom” in the Americas, ignores the varied temporalities at play in the embodied experiences of Black people. Wright argues instead for an epiphenomenal framework, one that situates Blackness in different spatial and temporal arrangements that look beyond the metanarrative of the Middle Passage Epistemology to offer a more nuanced view of the inflection of space–time on constructions and imaginations of contemporary Blackness. In her reading of Butler’s Kindred (a text whose wide representation in analyses of Black SF hints at its centrality to, and simultaneous overdetermination of, theories of Black temporality), Wright argues that the novel lays bare the “perverse logic of the linear progress narrative in a Middle Passage epistemology”: Dana is ripped back to save her progenitor Rufus precisely because of, rather than despite, his role as an enslaver. Kindred’s “understanding of the individual as intersubjective and operating on a number of conscious and unconscious levels of behavior logically defies (traditional linear) epistemology’s understanding of slavery as a spacetime of fixed vertical relations.” Together, Hartman and Wright present a vision of Black speculative temporalities working in multiple directions. Speculative visions of the past enable a long view of the various epistemologies shaping the Black present. They also enable the reading and writing subject to make the jump back to the past and forward to the future. This temporal fluidity is often subsumed into the narrative practices of Afrofuturist writing. Afrofuturists combine elements of past and future in

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order to transcend the possibilities of the contemporary, fusing “elements of science fiction, historical fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, Afrocentricity, and magic realism with non-Western beliefs.” In many, but not all cases, Afrofuturism’s hybrid aesthetics comprise a modality in which a mythologized and nostalgic Africa is transcendentally imagined into the future. Wakanda is a prime example, and perhaps the most stunning aspects of The Black Panther film’s production included Ruth E. Carter and Hannah Beechler’s designs. These elements are also present in the work of Nalo Hopkinson, Octavia E. Butler, Marlon James, N. K. Jemisin, and others. As I mentioned in the opening of this piece, the explosion of popular and esoteric entries into the Afrofuturist archive includes a broad and diverse field of writing, one that speaks to the multiplicity of millennial and post-millennial Black life. Black SF stretches understandings of humanity and temporality to their breaking point, allowing readers to imagine beyond the violence of Liberal conceptions of progress and embodiment. In the following section, I highlight the narrative and aesthetic capacities of Black SF by closely engaging Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s short story “The Finkelstein .” The story speaks directly to the concerns that permeate Black SF even as the story does not feature fantastic or technoscientific elements, and it is set in what could be the present. And yet, the proximity of “The Finkelstein ” to the more explicit Black SF elements in Adjei-Benyah’s collection highlights the story’s flirtation with the speculative as a way of understanding the experience of Blackness in the Trayvon Generation.

Saying Their Names Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s short story collection Friday Black is a work of Black speculative and satirical fiction that plays with style and convention by situating the fantastic and horrific in everyday spaces like theme parks, malls, and hospitals. The inaugural story, “The Finkelstein ,” follows Emmanuel, a Black, young adult man, over the last day of his life, and is disrupted by a description of testimony in the murder trial of George Wilson Dunn (his name a collage of George Zimmerman and Darren Wilson, who killed Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, respectively). The story navigates the nebula of sorrow and rage that coalesces into Black grief in the aftermath of anti-Black violence and tracks Emmanuel’s inner struggles with the conscious and unconscious efforts to exist with and alongside a white world that refuses to love him. Throughout, the text

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mobilizes speculative elements to critically interrogate the “real” formation of anti-Black murder and, more importantly, the “reasonable” responses to incidents as they are repeated and replicated over and over again. In the story, a growing movement of Black people dress in their Sunday best and enter the white world intentionally seeking to assault white people to protest Dunn’s acquittal: Two days after the ruling, the first report had come through. An elderly white couple, both in their sixties, had their brains smashed in by a group with bricks and rusty metal pipes. Witnesses said the murderers had been dressed in very fancy clothes: bow ties and summer hats, cuff links and high heels . . . . . . The Namers became the latest terrorists on the news. Most of the perpetrators were killed by police officers before they could be brought in for questioning. Those who were detained spoke only the name of the child they’d used as a mantra to their violence. None seemed interested in defense.

Here, the text announces the new “terrorists” who would occupy public attention. A loose coalition of Black people, exhausted by the repetition of anti-Black violence and incensed by the brutality of Dunn’s murders, come together to seek revenge. Dressed in their Sunday best and brandishing crude weapons, used in the past to lead Black people to hanging trees, the Namers revisit the violence of anti-Blackness on “innocent” white people. In addition to the brutality of their protest, the Namers also inflict harm on themselves. When Emmanuel runs into his grade school friend Boogie on a city bus, Boogie discloses that he’s “been Naming” and reveals three marks on his arm, each of which was a “distinct  carved and scarred into his skin” (p. ). Moments later, as he is exiting the bus, Boogie screams the name J. D. Heroy. In the earlier moments of the story, Emmanuel is keenly aware of his own relationship to his Blackness. In one of its more speculative moments, the text describes Emmanuel as calibrating his Blackness on a ten-point scale. Awakening to a phone call from a potential employer, Emmanuel “set(s) the Blackness in his voice down to a .” (p. ). In person, where the visual politics of anti-Blackness could undermine his own tone-policing, Emmanuel can only hope to get his Blackness down to a .. He steps out into the world on a mission to find clothes for his interview that would keep him squarely below a .. Navigating the mall also involves a set of calibrations, in which managers and security guards can’t help but see him as a threat, his Blackness peaking in the mid-.s. On his trip home from the

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mall, his new blue shirt in hand, Emmanuel receives a call from the manager who tells him that because they are not “an urban brand,” and because they already have two other Black employees, a third would be “overkill.” As he abruptly ends the call with his manager, he receives a text message from Boogie, telling him to be at the park at : PM. Emmanuel arrives at the park, wearing the shirt he bought for his interview, and he and the others lie in wait until a young white couple comes into the park to hook-up. As they watch the couple from their own car, Boogie and Tisha (Boogie’s girlfriend) mark each other with a number , using a box cutter to slice the symbol into their flesh. Bearing their talismans, and summoning the spirit of Fela St. John, George Wilson Dunn’s seven-year-old victim, they pull the couple from their car and beat them bloody. Emmanuel and the rest chant “Fela, Fela, Fela,” entranced by the power of the mantra. The young man, misunderstanding or overlooking their intentions, offers to give them whatever they want, while his partner “huddle[s] on the ground beside him [making] raspy, choking sounds” (p. ). Suddenly, and violently, Emmanuel demands that his would-be victims “Say it for me . . . Say her name.” As he looks down at the couple “begging” them to say the name Fela St. John, he loses sight of their humanity: “They weren’t even people. Just pumping hearts, hormones. He wondered if his rage would end; he imagined it leaking out of him” (p. ). Then, in contrast to the mounting pressure and tension, the “throbbing” of blood and tears and hormones that dominate the narration, the woman quiets and uses the remnant of her breath to comply with his request. Caught between the exhortations of his vengeance, which promises the realization of “being exactly who he really was for once” (p. ), and his socialization as a good Black, one who knew when to use words like “spectacular” (p. ), as he did when he was on the phone with his prospective employer, and how to modulate his Blackness to levels comfortable for his white surround, Emmanuel is unable to engage the final act of Naming. Instead, he slams Boogie in the gut with the baseball bat that has been his sword through most of this encounter. Together with the couple, Emmanuel continues to shout Fela St. John’s name. As Emmanuel drops the bat in compliance with the police orders, he thinks of the names, then feels his Blackness reach “an almighty .,” and senses the accompanying discharge of police bullets: His blood splashed all over the pavement and the couple. He saw the Finkelstein Five dancing around him: Tyler Mboya, Akua Harris, J. D.

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Heroy, Marcus Harris, Fela St. John. They told him they loved, still, forever. In that moment, with his final thoughts, his last feelings as a member of the world, Emmanuel felt his Blackness slide and plummet to an absolute nothing point nothing. (p. )

The story’s peripatetic conclusion captures many of the elements that define Black SF studies in the contemporary. The “nothing point nothing” into which Emmanuel slips is held in complete tension with the loving embrace of the five children in whose name the Namers enact their violence. His request for recognition neither valorizes nor undermines his desire to indict the structure of white supremacy and anti-Blackness with the blunt end of his bat. And yet, his ability to see his own Blackness at its full-fledged ten-out-of-ten is empowering, fundamentally altering his sense of self and surround. The related devolution of the people subject to his power – the white couple on the ground – who become nothing more than organs and viscera in his rage inverts paradigmatic relationships between Black and white people, notably, in descriptions of the misrecognition of Black humanity in court documents describing anti-Black murder. This tendency runs through the short story itself. The narrative of Emmanuel’s day is interspersed with dialogue from Dunn’s trial. Just after Emmanuel’s arrival at the park with his bat, the narrative shifts to the Prosecutor’s cross-examination of Dunn. “What about the seven-year-oldgirl you decapitated with a chainsaw?” the Prosecutor asks Dunn, who replies “She looked older than seven to me.” After a brief discussion of Fela St. John’s apparent age (“maybe thirteen or even fourteen”) the Prosecutor probes the veracity of Dunn’s assertion of self-defense refuted by the placement of St. John’s body “in a completely different area.” “These days,” Dunn replies “you just never know” (pp. –). Dunn’s testimony, grim as it is, shores up the story’s relationship to the speculative. Part satire and part absurdist fable, the testimony bring into sharp relief the intellectual and sociological fallacies underwriting the acquittals of people like George Zimmerman and Darren Wilson. As a caricaturized version of Zimmerman and Wilson, Dunn is a fusion of the worst of both. “So an unarmed J. D. Heroy came charging at you while you were holding a chain saw – totally unprovoked” the Prosecutor asks. “Totally . . . Vroom, I had my young children Tiffany and Rodman, behind me so I could, vroom, vroom protect them.” When the Prosecutor asks what he means by his euphemism, Dunn responds with another euphemism: “I revved my saw and got to cutting . . . Vroom. I cut that basketball player’s head clean, vroom, off” (pp. –). The onomatopoetic purpose

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Dunn’s vroom-ing serves here is the generic displacement of the scene of otherwise expected and dare I say normal testimony regarding the threat to life that enables and protects anti-Black murder into the realm of the absurd. The vrooms destabilizes Dunn’s coherence, exaggerating his actions and casting them in a moral economy of depravity and malice. The Prosecutor later inveighs against Dunn’s actions, asking, “begging,” and “imploring” the jury to ignore everything but the facts by deeming Dunn’s actions “evil” and punishing him. The reader knows by this point in the narrative that Dunn has been acquitted, and his acquittal fuels Emmanuel’s rage. But the Prosecutor’s insistence on the valuation of justice and its relationship to the murdered children’s materiality speaks volumes in its critique of the lived experience of awaiting justice from the bench. The absurdity inheres not only in Dunn’s manic vroom-ing, but also in the Prosecutor’s insistence on the reliance of the solvency of the system itself. If the system can’t “ease the pain,” and it also can’t “right the wrongs” (p. ) as the Prosecutor hopes it will, what is it good for?

Nothing-Point-Something Although the elements of the “Finkelstein ” may not, at first glance, place it within the genre of the speculative, the story highlights the essence of speculation that suffuses Black literature and Black studies. Moreover, the generic sleight of hand through which the story transforms from horror and satire, to surrealism and back, generates a more capacious notion of the speculative per se. Rather than merely a mélange of science fiction or fantasy, the speculative is best understood as an orientation toward the capacities of narrative and aesthetics to push readers beyond the limits of the known world by asking what are often unanswerable questions. Rather than seek narrative closure, SF and particularly Black SF is often explicitly invested in the literary potential to render the unresolvable visible rather than to resolve it through the fantastic or scientific. The final moment of “The Finkelstein ” is a prime example. Emmanuel’s murder by police is contrasted with the greeting of Fela St. John, J. D. Heroy, and the rest. Their greeting and embrace comprise an articulation of Black love that is immediately confounded by the plummet of his Blackness to its nadir. The “nothing point nothing” of Emmanuel’s Blackness reveals that the meter, which apparently indicated the magnitude of his Blackness, instead registers the anti-Blackness of the world at large. Firmly in the embrace of the spirits of the Finkelstein Five, Emmanuel has no need to modulate his identity.

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Reading Emmanuel’s conclusion alongside the Prosecutor’s emphatic plea that the jury enshrine the materiality of Black life (“Please don’t let the blood of these five children – with all the potential in the world – spill into nothingness. Please show us that they mattered” [p. ]) reveals the story’s investment in probing the social location of that mattering. Much like Nalo Hopkinson’s appearance before a gathering of speculative fiction/ fantasy authors who, by her reckoning, were mostly ignorant of their investment in perpetuating a world of anti-Blackness, “The Finkelstein ” highlights the special relationship between Black speculation, the Black radical imagination, and the ongoing project of Black freedom struggle. Specifically, it helps readers understand the necessary and important role literature and literary studies play in the Movement for Black Lives. The relationship between the election of Barack Obama, the murder of Trayvon Martin, and the growth of both Black SF and Black SF studies speaks directly to the dissonances of contemporary Black life. What this story and other entries in contemporary Black SF, from the most popular to the most esoteric, reveal is that the movement for Black lives is as much a literary movement as it is a social one.

Notes  Nalo Hopkinson, “A Reluctant Ambassador from the Planet Midnight.” Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, , no.  (): .  Ibid., .  The term “Afrofuturism” was first used by Mark Dery in an article that accompanied an interview with Samuel Delany, Tricia Rose, and Greg Tate. According to Dery, Afrofuturism is “Speculative fiction that treats AfricanAmerican themes and addresses African-American concerns in the contest of the twentieth-century technoculture – and more generally, African-American signification that appropriates images of technology and a prosthetically enhanced future.” See Mark Dery, Flame Wars: The Discourse of Cyberculture (Durham: Duke University Press, ), . See also Reynaldo Anderson and Charles E. Jones, Afrofuturism .: The Rise of Astro-Blackness (Lanham: Lexington Books, ); Madhu Dubey, “Speculative Fictions of Slavery.” American Literature, , no.  (): –; Ramzi Fawaz, “Space, That Bottomless Pit: Planetary Exile and Metaphors of Belonging in American Afrofuturist Cinema.” Callaloo, , no.  (): –; Kara Keeling, Queer Times, Black Futures (New York: New York University Press, ); Isiah Lavender, Black and Brown Planets: The Politics of Race in Science Fiction (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, ); Alondra Nelson, Afrofuturism (Durham: Duke University Press, ); Samantha Dawn Schalk, Bodyminds Reimagined: (Dis)Ability,

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 





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Race, and Gender in Black Women’s Speculative Fiction (Durham: Duke University Press, ); Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games (New York: New York University Press, ); Alexander G. Weheliye, “‘Feenin’: Posthuman Voices in Contemporary Black Popular Music.” Social Text, , no.  (): –; Ytasha Womack, Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture (Chicago: Chicago Review Press, ). Elizabeth Alexander, “The Trayvon Generation.” The New Yorker, June , , available at: www.newyorker.com/magazine////the-trayvongeneration (last accessed August , ). Robyn Wiegman describes the field imaginary as “the psychic life of the field” or “that domain of critical interpellation through which practitioners learn to pursue particular objects, protocols, methods of study, and interpretative vocabularies as the means for expressing and inhabiting their belonging to the field. Robyn Wiegman, Object Lessons (Durham: Duke University Press, ), . Christina Elizabeth Sharpe, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being (Durham: Duke University Press, ). As Simone Browne describes, contemporary policing and surveillance practices grew out of late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Black codes and policing, which reimagined social space in the absence of the institution of enslavement. See Simone Browne, Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness (Durham: Duke University Press, ), . See also John Fiske, “Surveilling the City: Whiteness, the Black Man and Democratic Totalitarianism.” Theory, Culture & Society, , no.  (): –; Loïc Wacquant, “Deadly Symbiosis: When Ghetto and Prison Meet and Mesh.” Punishment & Society, , no.  (): –. I will not dally over Afropessimist writing except to say that the theoretical concept draws outsized attention. As I demonstrate, scholarly production on Black life, love, and futurity outstrip pessimistic, nihilistic, and otherwise despondent works by an order of magnitude. On Afropessimism, see for example, Jared Sexton, “Afro-Pessimism: The Unclear Word.” Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge,  (), available at: https://doi .org/./rhiz/.e (last accessed August , ); Calvin L. Warren, Ontological Terror: Blackness, Nihilism, and Emancipation (Durham: Duke University Press, ); Frank B. Wilderson (ed.), Afropessimism, st edn (New York: Liveright, ). For critiques, see Justin Louis Mann, “Pessimistic Futurism: Survival and Reproduction in Octavia Butler’s Dawn.” Feminist Theory, , no.  (): –; Fred Moten, “Blackness and Nothingness (Mysticism in the Flesh).” South Atlantic Quarterly, , no.  (): –; Jennifer C. Nash, Black Feminism Reimagined: After Intersectionality (Durham: Duke University Press, ), –; Michelle M. Wright, Physics of Blackness: Beyond the Middle Passage Epistemology (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, ), . andré m. carrington, Speculative Blackness: The Future of Race in Science Fiction (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, ), .

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From Nothing to Something



 See also Mark C. Jerng, Racial Worldmaking: The Power of Popular Fiction (New York: Fordham University Press, ), .  carrington, Speculative Blackness, .  Ibid., . See also Ramzi Fawaz, The New Mutants: Superheroes and the Radical Imagination of American Comics (New York: New York University Press, ).  See Alexander G. Weheliye, Habeas Viscus: Racializing Assemblages, Biopolitics, and Black Feminist Theories of the Human (Durham: Duke University Press, ); Sylvia Wynter, “On How We Mistook the Map for the Territory, and Reimprisoned Ourselves in Our Unbearable Wrongness of Being of Desêtre: Black Studies toward the Human Project.” In A Companion to AfricanAmerican Studies, ed. Lewis R. Gordon and Jane Anna Gordon (Hoboken, NJ: Blackwell, ); Sylvia Wynter, “Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/ Power/Truth/Freedom: Towards the Human, after Man, Its Overrepresentation: An Argument.” CR: The New Centennial Review, , no.  (): –; Sylvia Wynter, “The Ceremony Must Be Found: After Humanism.” Boundary , / (): –.  Hortense J. Spillers, Black, White, and in Color: Essays on American Literature and Culture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, ), . See also Wynter, “The Ceremony Must Be Found: After Humanism.”  Weheliye, “Feenin,” .  On the afterlife of slavery, see Saidiya V. Hartman, Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, ); Patricia J. Williams, The Alchemy of Race and Rights (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, ).  For a discussion of race in new materialist analyses of the human, see Mel Y. Chen, Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect (Durham: Duke University Press, ); Michelle N. Huang, “Rematerializations of Race.” Lateral, , no.  (), available at: https://doi.org/./L.. (last accessed August , ); Zakiyyah Iman Jackson, Becoming Human: Matter and Meaning in an Antiblack World (New York: New York University Press, ).  Saidiya Hartman, “Venus in Two Acts.” Small Axe, , no.  (): .  Ibid., .  Keeling, Queer Times, Black Futures, . On the relationship between Black and Indigenous temporalities, see Mark Rifkin, Fictions of Land and Flesh: Blackness, Indigeneity, Speculation (Durham: Duke University Press, ). See also –.  Hartman, Lose Your Mother.  Wright, Physics of Blackness, .  Ibid., . See also Dubey, “Speculative Fictions of Slavery”; Aida LevyHussen, How to Read African American Literature: Post-Civil Rights Fiction and the Task of Interpretation (New York: New York University Press, ); Schalk, Bodyminds Reimagined, –.  Wright, Physics of Blackness, . See also Keeling, Queer Times, Black Futures, –.

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

 . 

 Womack, Afrofuturism, .  Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Friday Black (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ), . All subsequent citations in parentheses.  For example, in his Grand Jury testimony, Darren Wilson described Michael Brown as a “demon” with the “most intensive aggressive face.” State of Missouri v. Darren Wilson ().

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Biological and Narrative Reproduction in the Family-Saga Novels of Maryse Condé Rachel L. Mordecai

Family-saga novels are predicated on the assumption of genealogy as knowable and legible. Further, because – as Lori Ween points out – “the families portrayed become representatives of their communities,” family sagas enact dramas of belonging that are both familial and national. In fact, the family saga is regularly read as a nationalist project. From the earliest Icelandic sagas, which function to “map” territory through its association with human story, as Carol Hoggart argues, the saga serves to claim the land for the people who settle there. More contemporary family saga novels serve to construct unexceptionable versions of the modern nation by depicting the fortunes of one family over multiple generations. However, a broad reading of Caribbean family sagas reveals that most invoke these generic conventions (of genealogical and epistemological reliability, of families as synecdoches of coherent nations) in order to critique them or destabilize them entirely. Possible reasons for this disruptive approach to the writing of Caribbean family sagas are readily discernible. The Caribbean is, after all, a region comprising “societies structured in dominance” (per Stuart Hall) around axes of ethnicity, race, class, gender, sexuality, etc.; where creolization is at best an unrealized aspiration and at worst a containment strategy against insurgent racialized sub-nationalisms (see the work of Deborah Thomas, O. Nigel Bolland, and others); where reproduction and family formation are bedeviled by the promise and peril of social mobility; and where the state’s mechanisms for documenting genealogies are often uninterested in accounting for the actual practices by which families are made. In this context, then, laying claim to the territory of the nation through rendering the fortunes of one family is a project fraught with ideological and logistical dangers – and therefore ripe for creative exploration. Applying my working definition of the family saga novel (a fictional text that tracks the lives of a family or families over at least three generations and multiple historical moments) to the oeuvre of Guadeloupean author 

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

 . 

Maryse Condé yields a rich list of titles: Segu (Fr. ; Eng. ), Children of Segu (Fr. ; Eng. ), Tree of Life (Fr. ; Eng. ), The Last of the African Kings (Fr. ; Eng. ), Windward Heights (Fr. ; Eng. ), and Victoire: My Mother’s Mother (Fr. ; Eng. ). She has, in short, explored the family saga as a literary form to a greater extent than any other Caribbean writer I can name. The collectively ample geographical and historical scope of Condé’s family-saga novels takes in West Africa, Europe, and the Americas (in other words, much of the territory of the Black diaspora) between the eighteenth century and the recent present. The novels both reiterate the appeal of genealogical claims (Segu bears the dedication “For my Bambara ancestress”) and register a clear-eyed suspicion of the notion of lineage and the mythologizing impulses that so often attend it. This ambivalence aligns Condé with several other Caribbean writers of the family-saga form. But she is exceptional in the extent of her exploration of the form, its presuppositions, and its ideological underpinnings. Focusing mostly on Tree of Life and The Last of the African Kings, this chapter will examine Condé’s mapping of the role of women in processes of biological and narrative reproduction, how they alternately resist and collude with patriarchy in performing that role, and the implications of this dynamic for constructions of family and diaspora. My premise here is that both biological and narrative reproduction are essential processes of family formation across time (genealogy) and space (diaspora) – and, therefore, the engines that power diasporic family sagas. This is not to say that Condé suggests a tidy analogy between biological and narrative reproduction, such that the same women are equally responsible for both functions. But she figures both functions as key to family and diasporic formation; further, both functions continually bring women up against the demands and strictures of patriarchy, impact their erotic and intellectual autonomy, and structurally determine their relationships to other women, especially their daughters. Narrative reproduction intersects biological reproduction in Tree when Claude Louis inherits the task her mother Thécla refuses: telling the family story. As we shall see, Thécla energetically seeks to tell the stories of Black diaspora but demonstrates a willful disinterest in the story of their family. In Kings, meanwhile, Debbie Middleton’s misguided and excessive reproduction of the story of her husband’s family drives conflict, creating distance between herself and her daughter Anita. I am drawn to Thécla, Claude, Debbie, and Anita as intellectuals, writers of very distinct projects, and characters bound up in difficult mother–daughter relationships. More importantly, however,

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The Family-Saga Novels of Maryse Condé

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I am interested in what they reveal about where Condé sees women functioning, suffering, and resisting within the dynamics that create two formations of Black life in which she is deeply interested: family and diaspora. Consideration of Condé’s novels as family sagas and discussions of the themes of genealogy and family formation constitute a relatively small subset of the extensive critical literature on her work. Gloria Nne Onyeoziri looks at mothering in Tree of Life and argues for the analytical yield of the concept of métissage in approaching “certain forms of racial and sexual oppression and their continuing influence.” Serigne Ndiaye assesses the “return manqué to the ‘Motherland’” and the failed search for ancestry of Condé’s protagonist in Heremakhonon. Emily Apter, introducing her interview with Condé, notes that “Condé’s more famous historical novels . . . trace the fissuring of families within geographical and generational formations.” Condé herself, in another interview, describes “relationships . . . with parents, with family” as one of her literary “obsessions.” But the territory I will investigate in this chapter most closely approaches that examined in Joanna Garvey’s article on genealogy and space in Tree, Kings, and Desirada. Garvey notes that the process of tracing roots/routes in Condé’s novels “generally follows a patriarchal logic”; she argues that “tracing [Condé’s] concern with lineage . . . reveals that a different version of genealogical excavation, recuperation, and projection emerges,” but it “remains for the most part hetero-patriarchal.” While I find Garvey’s argument persuasive, I depart from her conclusion that in the novels “contemporary daughters can begin to trace a path that is not genealogical, as they turn to writing-as-becoming and claim new spaces in which to shape a new identity.” The picture, it seems to me, is more complicated, at least for Tree and Kings: while the daughters in both novels enact critical relationships with their family genealogies, it is hard to conclude that they abandon genealogy entirely. Their paths and choices in the novels, moreover, bear unmistakable structural relationships to those of their mothers and are, therefore, to some extent genealogically determined. If one scholarly tendency considers the family saga a nationalist project in which the nation is figured through the family, it is worth asking whether Condé invites readers, in these novels, to think diaspora via a similarly metonymic process. She would not be alone in considering the family saga in this light: at minimum, Caribbean family sagas typically grapple with the diasporas that produce the modern Caribbean. But Condé is noteworthy in her continual refusal of simplistic visions of diasporic solidarity. As Apter, Ndiaye, and others have noted, Condé’s

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

 . 

characters repeatedly (although not exclusively) experience Black diasporic encounter as a site replete with misrecognition, prejudice, and antagonism. Her writing of diaspora in many ways reflects the framing that Brent Hayes Edwards elaborates, where “the cultures of black internationalism . . . are characterized by unavoidable misapprehensions and misreadings, persistent blindnesses and solipsisms . . . a failure to translate even a basic grammar of blackness.” Edwards’s phrase “black internationalism” here refers to intentional projects of transnational Black political and cultural engagement, of the kind that only some of Condé’s characters take up. Further, even characters not pursuing such projects find themselves in situations of diasporic encounter freighted with “misapprehensions and misreadings.” In short, Condé is at pains to reject any suggestion of facile mutual recognition and solidarity among members of the Black diaspora, instead depicting (again in Edwards’s terms) “cultural and political linkage only through and across difference in full view of the risks of that endeavor.”

Tree of Life The Louis family at the center of Tree of Life is itinerant from the earlytwentieth-century inception of its narrated history: “forebear” Albert Louis wanders from Guadeloupe to Panama by way of Martinique and then to the United States, eventually returning to Guadeloupe, where he establishes a business empire and a family dynasty. In the course of this journeying, Albert becomes an acolyte of Marcus Garvey and develops a hatred of white people that, as patriarch, he articulates in bio-genealogical terms and turns into a disciplinary principle; he tells Bert, his eldest son, “The whites! They’re devils – never go near them. Never defile your blood with theirs!” (p. ). Albert’s prohibition against procreating with white people causes a major fracture within the family when Bert (who has inexplicably been sent off to trade school in France) impregnates and marries a white French woman, and Albert excises him and thereby his descendants from the family. The erasure is complete: Albert stops speaking of Bert, photographs of him are removed from the family home, and the letters Bert and later his son Bébert send from France go unanswered. Notably, this is the only occasion in the novel in which it is male, rather than female, sexual autonomy that is policed within the family. Bert disappears into a kind of abyss, effectively forgotten by people among whom he had lived until he was a teenager. After his death at a young age, he becomes a harbinger of other deaths in the Louis family and

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The Family-Saga Novels of Maryse Condé

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the pre-eminent specter in a novel filled with ghosts. While he never speaks or appears to anyone from the afterlife (unlike his mother, grandmother, stepmother, and others, all of whom talk to the living after death), on the three occasions that his younger brother Jacob manages to recall Bert and gathers the courage to speak to their father about him, that intention is foiled by a death in the family, the last death being Albert’s (p. ). The recovery of this erased story, and reconnection with the lopped-off branch of the family tree, becomes the work of Albert’s great-granddaughter and Thécla’s daughter, Claude, and the through line of the novel, which Claude narrates. The successful erasure of Bert demonstrates, moreover, that family is a narrative construct: by refusing to speak either to or about Bert, his father erases him from the family story, obscuring the subplot that makes him a part of the Louis family. Bert never recovers from this banishing, which is only reversed in his granddaughter’s generation. Albert’s granddaughter Thécla mirrors and exceeds him as consummate wanderer, sexual adventurer, and Black (inter)nationalist, but his behavior constitutes the founding narrative and exemplary pattern for the family, while her behavior is consistently criticized. Thécla’s only reproductive contribution to the family is Claude, whose out-of-wedlock birth occasions Thécla’s years of shame-induced self-exile from her family. Even Thécla’s parents know nothing of Claude’s existence until Claude appears, aged around eleven, with Thécla in Guadeloupe. Thécla’s father, Jacob, asks upon seeing the two together, “Whose child is that?” The child Claude notes her mother’s response: “She raised her chin and said with an air of bravado, though I could read the shame in her eyes: ‘It’s mine!’” (p. , emphasis added). Thécla enacts the patriarchal disciplinary regimen upon herself and imposes the same penalty – excommunication – that had been imposed on Bert. Where Bert was outlawed for a racial transgression, Thécla outlaws herself for what is effectively a violation of gender norms, given that none of the Louis men who also reproduce out of wedlock are sanctioned. Claude later directly links these two acts of ostracism through their effects: “And so I join with Bert and Bébert, and belong as do they to the lineage of those who are never mentioned” (p. ). Claude, like Bébert (and Bébert’s daughter Aurélia, whom she meets later), suffers the wages of a parent’s “sin”; all are subject to a patriarchal discipline that so successfully dictates the terms of reproduction that its sanctions, also, are replicated over generations. Despite her apparent shame, Thécla continues to lead a life of radical sexual autonomy. On two occasions, this takes the form of polyamory: she shares a bed with two Afro-Cuban-American brothers, Manuel and Earl

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

 . 

Pastor, and later cohabitates with Manuel (Earl having died) and Terence Cliff-Brownson, a member of the Black Washington, DC elite. As these biographical details indicate, Thécla’s romantic liaisons – bracketed between her adolescent relationship with Gesner Ambroise Jr. in Guadeloupe and her marriage to the white French doctor Pierre Levasseur – are consistently scenes of diasporic encounter: Denis Latran (Claude’s father) is from Senegal and meets Thécla in Paris; her relationship with the Pastors takes her to Harlem; she is a lover for a time with Haitian journalist Henock Magister in Port-au-Prince; and her relationship with Manuel and Terence begins in a Rastafarian community in Jamaica. This period of Thécla’s life, moreover, coincides with the height of her intellectual ambition. She is repeatedly seen researching and writing: asking for typing paper, “feverishly scribbling” (p. ). The titles of her projects clarify that her subject is always Blackness in some local or transnational iteration: “On the Condition of Blacks in America” (p. ); “The Influence of the Harlem Renaissance on the Intellectuals of Haiti” (p. ); and a “History of Black Nationalism” (p. ). Further, her sexual partners are often her intellectual collaborators. So Thécla presents a complicated figure. Her sexual freedom and vagabond lifestyle attract censure from many quarters, which she occasionally seems to internalize: when she becomes pregnant while with the Pastor brothers the pregnancy seems welcome, but she is discomfited by not knowing which of the two is the father (p. ). When she miscarries, Thécla seems susceptible to the opinion (peddled by a religious neighbor) that the event reflects divine judgment: “Her child dead and the sin expiated, Thécla was careful not to sin any further” (p. ). Yet Thécla returns swiftly enough to loving whom and how she pleases; for someone who repeatedly construes herself as pathetic and tortured, she constructs a life of remarkable erotic and intellectual freedom. Her relationships are, moreover, largely positive experiences. While they sometimes end in acrimony, they are equitable, devoid of violence, and erotically satisfying: Henock Magister, for example, has “great arms that wrapped clear around Thécla, a wide mouth that covered her with kisses, and a large cock that he stuffed passionately between her lips or between her thighs” (p. ). This is to be juxtaposed against the general experience of women in the novel, for whom sex may be pleasurable at first but leads later to distress or death (Bert’s mother Liza; Thécla’s aunt Anaïse) or is joyless from the start (Thécla’s mother Tima). Thécla mostly does as she likes, facilitated by other people, especially her lovers. If there is anywhere

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The Family-Saga Novels of Maryse Condé



in this novel a sustained thread of harmonious diasporic encounter, it is to be found in Thécla’s love life: an erotics of diaspora. It should also be noted that this erotics of diaspora is biologically unreproductive. After Claude (the result of an unplanned pregnancy), Thécla never has another child; she also largely declines to parent the child she has, leaving newborn Claude to the care of a French foster mother for ten years and studiously neglecting her even after they are reunited. Further, none of Thécla’s writing projects come to fruition, as Claude notes bitingly: “I snickered quietly! My mother, a writer! God save us from that!” (p. ). If, as I am arguing, the novel positions women squarely at the center of the mechanisms of biological and narrative reproduction that make family and diaspora, Thécla performs the first function only under duress and fails, despite trying, at the second. Yet she remains a fascinating figure, unsympathetic and chronically dissatisfied, but wildly, even gloriously, free. That is, until she marries Pierre Levasseur. Pierre is where Thécla contravenes her family’s racial ethic; he is also where her intellectual ambition, sexual freedom, and vagabond ways go to die. Their marriage makes Thécla into what her family wants her to be: middle class, domesticated, and monogamous. Her forebear Albert Louis, who dedicated the proceeds of his first business successes to providing a middle-class lifestyle for his mother and son, would likely have approved of the Thécla who finally settles down with Pierre – except for Pierre’s unforgivable whiteness. Pierre and Thécla have no children together, so his blood does not threaten to “defile” the Blackness of the family line. With him, moreover, she claims to feel secure and at peace, saying “It’s the first time someone didn’t ask a thing from me, demand that I be anything other than what I am” (p. ). However, their relationship has a zombifying effect on Thécla, as Claude observes: I hardly ever saw Thécla, who in any case must have been in a bad way herself. For after having set her heart on changing the face of things, and occasionally inscribing her name on the cover of an illuminating work, such as Notes of a Native Son or The Wretched of the Earth, she had to content herself with being the wife-from-Martinique-of-Doctor-Levasseur! . . . Never speaking. Looking as if she could not keep her eyes open. (p. )

Despite her protestations of marital happiness, Thécla never reaches a state of personal equilibrium that allows for fulfilment of her intellectual ambitions – which were also supposed to serve the political interests of the transnational Black community, as signaled by the Wright and Fanon texts named as models for the work she had hoped to produce.

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

 . 

The collapse of Thécla’s intellectual ambition – her failure to narrate diaspora – resonates alongside her refusal to write her family back together. She passes up the chance to heal the familial fracture created by Albert’s excommunication of Bert when she receives, but ignores, a letter from Bébert: “Mademoiselle, I take the liberty of writing to you in hopes that you might help me resolve a very grave problem . . . My father’s name was Albert Louis too . . . I am trying to trace his people, who are mine, too . . . Simply to know what tree I am part of. One cannot live without knowing where one comes from” (pp. –). As family is a narrative construct, Thécla could have had a significant narrative role (of the kind that Claude later takes on) if she had responded to Bébert’s letter, reintegrating the family and its story. But she refuses – and later, in recalling the event with Claude, she downplays its significance and excuses herself: “It’s true, I do remember now! A guy who must have been [Bébert] wrote to me. It was . . . it was, I don’t know when it was! But at the time, believe me, I had other fish to fry!” (p. ). Further, Thécla not only excuses her own role in the saga, but resists even being an audience to it; the scene begins with her demanding of Claude “Why are you telling me this story? What does it have to do with me?” (p. ). Precisely because Claude takes up the family-narrative project her mother refuses, she knows that Bébert eventually committed suicide (as his father had done) in despair at his alienation from his paternal family and exile in an unhomely home: France. His assertion in the letter that “one cannot live without knowing where one comes from” resounds poignantly in this context. Claude, moreover, has met with Marie, Bébert’s mother, and endured an unhinged racist diatribe about what the Louis family did to Bert and Bébert: “You, the daughter of those who killed my men . . . He’d thrown himself under a commuter train . . . My Bébert. All because of you. Dirty niggers! Murderers! Murderers!” (pp. –). So Claude feels the full weight of the possibility foreclosed by Thécla’s disinterest. Her reflection on her mother’s dismissal – “At those words the cry, ‘Murderer’ again rang in my ears” (p. ) – lays the familial blame for Bert’s and Bébert’s deaths at Thécla’s feet (note the change from Marie’s plural “Murderers!” to Claude’s singular). Claude – driven by her “instinctive solidarity” (p. ) with Bert and Bébert and by the mutual affection that she and Aurélia have developed since meeting fortuitously at school in France – decides to unearth the stories of the two men’s lives and emplace them within the larger family history which, at the end of the novel, she declares her intention to write. Thus, whereas Thécla never completes her academic volumes of global

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Black diasporic history, Claude does finish the specific and personal volume of family history, as we know because we are reading it. It is important also that, in order to tell the family story, Claude has to narratively heal the familial fracture through recovering the lost stories of Bert and his line, and relationally heal it through her collaboration with Aurélia. So the narrative project Thécla rejects is rescued and completed by her daughter through a shift in focus from the academic to the familial and interpersonal. This fact, beyond inviting the reader to wonder whether the failures of Thécla’s diasporic intellectual projects are connected to her refusals at the level of the familial, reveals the intersections between narrative and biological reproduction that structure women’s lives. Further, Claude’s narrative labor at the level of family is simultaneously performed at the level of diaspora, in part because the family has been so itinerant, but more because Albert’s excommunication of Bert creates a branch of the family so removed that to meet them is itself diasporic encounter. In narrating her family, Claude is also narrating diaspora. But, before declaring this a fable about the importance of family and celebrating Claude’s righteous fulfilment of the role her mother declines, it is worth remembering the extent of the emotional labor upon which Claude’s narrative labor depends. She must not only bond and collaborate with Aurélia, but also have difficult conversations with Thécla, Jacob, and others; confront the similarities between Albert’s abandonment of Bert and Thécla’s abandonment of her; and endure Marie’s racist abuse. Moreover, Claude describes resenting the “burden” of writing the family story, which she nevertheless “would be unable to escape” (p. ). So she succeeds where her mother fails, but she also assumes a burden that Thécla rejects, a burden, moreover, enjoined upon her by a patriarchal genealogy: “And anyway, how could I deny the blood of my entire ancestry . . . beginning with my forebear Albert with his fine teeth made for devouring the world” (p. ). While Claude thereby gains the benefits of reintegration into the family from which she was born an exile, Thécla makes her own place at the margins of that family – first widely itinerant, then settled in France with “her white man” (p. ), but always holding fiercely to her own idea of freedom.

The Last of the African Kings In Tree of Life, Condé positions women at the center of the processes of biological and narrative reproduction that drive family formation across space and time – and demonstrates, moreover, that the two processes are

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

 . 

ineluctably tied up with each other. While she acknowledges and even celebrates the power and opportunities that attend these roles, she is very clear about how profoundly patriarchy constrains women’s functioning within them and about the price exacted in terms of joy, autonomy, and relationships. The amplitude and nuance of Condé’s treatment of this question become even more apparent when one considers her next family saga, The Last of the African Kings. The novel develops the fictional premise of a Caribbean line of descent from Béhanzin, last king of Dahomey (in present-day Benin), who was militarily defeated by the French in the s and exiled for a while in Martinique. When the king (styled as “the ancestor” [p. ] throughout the novel) is forced to return to Africa, he leaves a son, Djéré, behind. While it is Djéré’s notebooks (a combination of journal and family history/mythography) that become the founding documents of the Jules-Juliette family history, the annual ritual marking the anniversary of the ancestor’s death is initiated by a woman: Djéré’s mother Hosannah. Further, in the novel’s narrational present, it is African American Debbie Middleton, the wife of Djéré’s grandson Spero, who throws herself into perpetuating both the story of royal African ancestry and the attendant ritual. Condé makes Debbie into somewhat of a cautionary tale. While, in Tree, Claude Louis’s labor to retrieve and preserve her family story is presented as a worthwhile if onerous project yielding emotional and creative rewards, Debbie’s excessive engagement with the story of Spero’s royal ancestor is easily read as appropriative, even exploitative, especially given that she has little interest in Spero’s living family and a conflictual relationship with Spero himself. Moreover, only certain diasporic connections are acceptable to Debbie; she thus “embroider[s] on” the origin story in her retelling, discarding facts in favor of elitist affectation: “Djéré was no longer the illegitimate son abandoned with his servant mother like a bundle of dirty linen . . . but the son of a young lady, a proud example of Martinique’s upper class” (p. ). Condé’s treatment is characteristically deft, however, and there are no heroes or villains here. In a scene of mutual diasporic misrecognition, Spero’s family are largely as unimpressed by Debbie as she is by them: “You can imagine how pleased Marisia [Spero’s mother] was to see this intruder turn up at her house! . . . A woman who didn’t speak Creole . . . A woman who suspiciously inspected everything she was given to eat and drink” (p. ). Further, the marital breakdown is as reasonably attributed to Spero’s philandering as to Debbie’s coldness and pretension. In sum, Condé shows us how the potential for diasporic solidarity and relation can founder on the shoals

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of misrecognition and prejudice, and how the narrative reproduction of family may as easily be the site of mythification and manipulation as of belonging and connection. Debbie takes upon herself the job of initiating their daughter, Anita, into the myth of the illustrious lineage. Anita is a willing acolyte at the altars to which her mother draws her but, rather than strengthening her sense of familial belonging, the family’s myth-history underpins Anita’s increasingly independent diasporic explorations – which, as with Thécla in Tree, express themselves erotically as well as culturally and intellectually, and which alienate her from Debbie, in particular. The final blow comes when Anita moves to Benin and scarcely maintains contact with her parents: “her departure seemed very much like a final farewell” (pp. –). Thus, Debbie’s narrative reproduction of Spero’s family story undermines their lived experience of family, and she finds the imagined diasporic connection – the “return to Africa” – that she has bequeathed to her daughter distasteful and distressing when actualized. The novel also weighs in on the question of biological reproduction. Both Debbie and Anita enact reproductive refusals – Debbie denies Spero’s request to have a second child, Anita has an abortion – that bespeak their common determination not to cede autonomy over this aspect of their lives. Both decisions are bemoaned by Spero, and Debbie (on Spero’s construal) joins him in lamenting Anita’s choice: “It had been one of the most painful moments of their lives when they had to face Anita on their own after the killing of their first grandchild” (p. ). Spero’s grief over Anita’s abortion, however, should be contextualized within his larger obsession with her sex life, which verges on the incestuous. He spies on her as she leaves trysts with a boyfriend “for the mere pleasure of seeing her . . . radiant, disheveled, and half dressed” (p. ). He repeatedly imagines her with various lovers, especially after she leaves for Benin: “In his dreams he saw his Anita as a prostitute, naked and exposed like a datura on a bed of red velvet waiting for muscle men to penetrate her” (p. , emphasis added). The possessive pronoun speaks to Spero’s sense of patriarchal ownership over Anita; the baroque imagery speaks to the extent of his lurid fascination. There is no suggestion that Spero abuses Anita sexually, and he frames his repeated imaginings of her in sexual situations as “nightmares” of parental anxiety (p. ). However, this does little to ameliorate the reader’s discomfort. Rather, that Spero experiences his parental concern for Anita as a voyeuristic obsession with scenes of her sexual activity serves to foreground the pathologies that erupt wherever patriarchy works to discipline women into vessels for biological reproduction (which is to say, everywhere).

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

 . 

Condé goes further, establishing over the course of the novel that biological reproduction routinely, perhaps necessarily, turns on the subjugation of women’s bodily autonomy and threatens their wellbeing. She does this through repeatedly staging sexual scenes that are points of origin for the family line as rape-or-nearly-rape scenes – and, moreover, as involving older men and young, sometimes very young, girls. Not all reproductive sex in Kings is like this, but sex that is especially important to the biological or narrative reproduction of the family often is. This motif begins with the familial origin myth (as recounted in Djéré’s notebooks), which details the moment when fourteen-year-old princess Posu Adewene meets Agasu the Leopard (who is apparently both animal and man) in the forest. The scene’s consent dynamics are ambiguous (“She wasn’t expecting so much beauty and stood spellbound”) but nevertheless freighted with intimations of violence: “[with] fierce jaws . . . uncontrollable howl . . . [and] enormous scarlet erection . . . Agasu bounded forward. That was how my ancestor Tengisu, the founder of our dynasty, was conceived” (p. ). As the motif continues, sixteen-year-old Hosannah, Djéré’s mother, is procured for the ancestor by one of his wives; their sexual encounters are similarly described in the language of proto-bestial violence: “His uncut nails dug into the tender flesh of her body, his teeth sunk into her neck, and she had to suffer in silence. His sighs of sexual satisfaction sounded like growls” (p. ). In turn – although the relationship is apparently consensual – Cyprienne (mother of Djéré’s son Justin) dies in childbirth because at “thirteen or fourteen” she is too young and “the Good Lord does not approve of forcing the body of a young girl, of penetrating her before it is time” (pp. , ). This trajectory culminates in the account of the ancestor’s reincarnation at the novel’s end, which foregrounds the youth of the mother (Abebi, sixteen) and the danger of the pregnancy. The ghostly ancestor cannot sexually exploit Abebi directly, but her much older husband already has, and the ancestor recapitulates that exploitation to his own ends: he “[becomes] enamored with [Abebi],” hovers over the birth scene, and is reborn in the body of her male child (pp. –). Condé sets these young women up as echoes of each other: Abebi reminds the ancestor of Hosannah, who had in turn been a reminder of Posu Adewene. This diasporic pattern – circular and reiterative, transnational and transhistorical, crossing the veil between earthly and metaphysical realms – establishes a critical alternative genealogy in the novel among these young women whose lives and bodies are laid waste by the reproductive imperatives of the literal family patriarch and embodiment of patriarchal ideology.

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Conclusion: Mapping the Matrix So, what does all this mean for the relationship between biological and narrative reproduction, and between family and diaspora, in Condé’s novels? Both Thécla and Debbie seek to situate themselves within diaspora through their narrative projects, taking contrary tacks: Thécla through doggedly avoiding the familial, and Debbie through overly engaging it. Both projects are mostly unsuccessful, and perhaps for the same reason: in each case, diaspora as abstraction (global Blackness as intellectual project, ancestral Blackness as mythography) is privileged over – even substituted for – connection with one’s contemporary Black relations. Thécla attempts to rescind her biological reproduction of the family when she abandons Claude for ten years with a stranger; her second foray into biological reproduction fails when the pregnancy miscarries. There are diasporic implications here: Claude’s father is Senegalese, while Thécla’s second child would have had CubanAfrican-American fathers. Debbie, meanwhile, engages biological reproduction resolutely on her own terms; the biological reproduction to which she does accede (the birth of Anita) is at once familial and diasporic: Debbie is from Black Charleston, Spero from Guadeloupe. Thus, both women reproduce family and diaspora biologically in their daughters, but Thécla considers this reproductive moment a failure for which she punishes herself and Claude, while Debbie wants the diachronic diasporic story (of royal African ancestry) but not the synchronic diasporic family (Spero and his relatives) to which her daughter’s birth connects her. Clearly, Condé is not offering a tidy picture of any of this. But what careful consideration of Thécla, Debbie, Claude, Anita, and their structural relationships to each other reveals is Condé’s mapping of the embattled terrain women traverse at the nexus of biological and narrative reproduction that, I have proposed, produces family and diaspora. It is a landscape fraught with pitfalls and constraints, for which there is no reliable navigational tactic. Moreover – while Debbie and Thécla make very different choices from each other, and Anita and Claude make contrary choices to their mothers – the nexus itself and the struggle it subtends are heritable between female generations. Perhaps the point, then, is to map the nexus or, better, the matrix – with its nodal points of biological and narrative reproduction, family and diaspora, failure and refusal – and to chart the emplacement of mothers and daughters within it. Condé acknowledges that men, too, function within this matrix, as for example Albert Louis, whose role as biological originator of his family line also enables the destructive control he exerts

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

 . 

over the (diasporic) family narrative. While men generally have more power and freedom than women as they operate within the matrix, this is not uniformly true (especially for the exiled or abandoned sons: Djéré in Kings, Bert and Bébert in Tree). But men’s emplacement within the matrix is not figured by Condé as heritable: their relationships with their sons are not rendered as structurally overdetermined by biological and narrative reproductive imperatives and attendant dynamics. Finally, neither family nor diaspora, as lived experience or as narrative construct, yields an entirely satisfactory home for these women – and in every space, in every mode, they must grapple with patriarchy’s prescriptions and proscriptions, but also with its seductions. Demonstrating fulsomely how family and diaspora can be sites of restriction and alienation, especially for women, Condé suggests that the autonomous self may be the only home worth seeking. Of course, the very idea of an autonomous self is informed and constrained by gender (in addition to race, class, nation, and other socio-political constructions). Further, the quest for autonomy is fraught, its uncertain outcomes sometimes difficult to bear (witness Thécla’s stultifying Paris life) or to represent (after decamping to Benin, Anita largely fades from view). The intersections of familial and diasporic histories, configured by the persistence of patriarchy and empire in their multiple guises, make every success partial and every haven contingent for all four of these women. They respond in different ways, homing toward or pulling away from their families, tracing diasporic trajectories toward and away from birthplaces and sites of ancestral origin, trading what is demanded of them for what they refuse to relinquish.

Notes  Lori Ween, “Family Sagas of the Americas: Los Sangurimas and A Thousand Acres.” The Comparatist,  (): .  Carol Hoggart, “A Layered Landscape: How the Family Sagas Mapped Medieval Iceland.” Limina: A Journal of Historical and Cultural Studies,  ().  Stuart Hall, “Race, Articulation, and Societies Structured in Dominance.” In Sociological Theories: Race and Colonialism (Paris: UNESCO, ), –.  O. Nigel Bolland, “Reconsidering Creolisation and Creole Societies.” Shibboleths: Journal of Comparative Theory,  no.  (): –; Deborah A. Thomas, Modern Blackness: Nationalism, Globalization, and the Politics of Culture in Jamaica (Durham: Duke University Press, ).  Gloria Nne Onyeoziri, “In the Face of the Daughter: Feminist Perspectives on Métissage and Gender.” In Emerging Perspectives on Maryse Condé: A Writer of

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 



     



Her Own, ed. Sarah Barbour and Gerise Herndon (Trenton: Africa World Press, ), . Serigne Ndiaye, “Not Enough Shade under the ‘Royal Kaïlcédrat’: Maryse Condé’s Hérémakhonon or the Difficult Search for Ancestors.” In Emerging Perspectives on Maryse Condé: A Writer of Her Own, ed. Sarah Barbour and Gerise Herndon (Trenton: Africa World Press, ), . Emily S. Apter, “Crossover Texts/Creole Tongues: A Conversation with Maryse Condé.” Public Culture, , no.  (): . Maryse Condé, “A Conversation at Princeton, December , : Maryse Condé Speaks with Anne-Marie Alexander, Vera Broichhagen, Marie-Hélène Koffi-Tessio, Kathryn Lachman, and Nicole Simek.” In Feasting on Words: Maryse Condé, Cannibalism, and the Caribbean Text, ed. Vera Broichhagen, Kathryn Lachman, and Nicole Simek (Princeton: Program in Latin American Studies, Princeton University, ), . Johanna X. K. Garvey, “(Up)Rooting the Family Tree: Genealogy and Space in Maryse Condé’s Fiction.” In Emerging Perspectives on Maryse Condé: A Writer of Her Own, ed. Sarah Barbour and Gerise Herndon (Trenton: Africa World Press, ), . Ibid., . Ibid., . Brent Hayes Edwards, The Practice of Diaspora: Literature, Translation, and the Rise of Black Internationalism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, ), . Ibid., . Maryse Condé, Tree of Life: A Novel of the Caribbean, trans. Victoria Reiter (New York: Ballatine Books, ), . All subsequent citations appear in parentheses. Maryse Condé, The Last of the African Kings, trans. Richard Philcox (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, ). All subsequent citations appear in parentheses.

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 

The Embodied Feminist Futures of Diaspora Samantha Pinto

Kenyan artist Wangechi Mutu’s  A Fake Jewel in the Crown, like so much of her work, drafts a body in flux. I say “drafts” for its conceptual and formal resonance – for Mutu’s bodies are composites that make visible the conceptual and material labor that constructs the body, particularly the woman-, female-, and feminine-identified body. Formally, this work layers various materials, referents, styles – a collage that is an intentional mélange of aesthetics, lush, detailed, and complicated to look at, to take in as a whole. Evoking at once the organic and the fantastic, Mutu’s corporeal forms stretch beyond the boundaries of their mylar canvas. In this piece, the focused cut-outs that comprise the main face are surrounded by a mass of beige and striped tentacles which have cut out photos of feminine faces at their ends. Her rendering of the body, her lines from the collaged center to the tentacled ends, repeat themselves, yet they ask you to follow them, to consider how one keeps both imagining and critically reading the feminized body from the composite labor that calls it into being. Mutu’s aesthetics, her work across Kenyan and American artistic formation and production, her articulation of the Black African feminine body as a global paradigm for thinking through the intersections of gender, health, labor, and the environment, represent a new wave of African feminist scholars, artists, and writers working at the vanguard of diaspora expressive culture. Mutu’s speculative visuals allows us, for a moment, to break with the teleology of the plot of diaspora feminist literary studies, to trace multiple lines of the body at once while puncturing the haunt of realism, mimeticism, and direct reference that still append to postcolonial, diaspora, and feminist study in literature. I begin this essay on diaspora in literary studies with an evocative visual draft to literally and figuratively illustrate moves in the field that, as Ayo Coly argues in her  book Postcolonial Hauntologies, contest a long-standing defensiveness around the representation of African and African Diaspora women’s bodies and sexuality. Coly argues that the haunt of colonial typologies positing African 

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and African Diaspora women as subjects of sexual excess has framed expressive culture and scholarly critique in the field through structures of negative or negating desire – an avoidance of open representation of sexuality, and a desire to read African women’s representational bodies as responses to this racist model. The overwhelming saturation of the field of feminist diaspora literary studies with colonial expectations and aesthetics for women of the Global South more broadly, on the one hand, and masculinist models for expressing cultural nationalism during decolonization on the other, has overdetermined the production, reception, and criticism of diaspora women’s and queer literature. This reactivity to colonial and masculine structures of meaning highlights the ways that “The Empire Writes Back,” to reference the famous anthology of postcolonial literary criticism, has dominated ways of knowing and interpreting diaspora itself, as well as diaspora literary production. Reticent, resistant, or resigned, this critical frame enforces a critical movement from the west/north to the east/south. It does so even and especially in its attention to injuries and objects most taken up by the “West,” including conversations around infibulation and the veil that dominated transnational feminisms of the Global North in the s and early s. This essay, then, highlights how modes of producing, reading, and indeed becoming a subject are also diasporic, circular, and entangled in their routes like Mutu’s collage and tentacles and not always with clear directional origins. I would argue (and have argued) that this complex formulation of diasporic routes is especially significant for diaspora feminist literary study, which is so often more bounded and contained by national boundaries and prescribed readings of the feminine subject “stuck” in masculinist routes and plots. Literary and artistic production from Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asian diasporas has already taken up gender in complex ways that exceed reaction to Western racism, of course – but the road to widespread publication and notice is often paved through interpretative myopia and structural hegemony that recognizes only those texts and experiences that “fit” within the overdetermined rubric of reactiveness. This essay attempts to map bold breaks with this model of feminist diaspora even as it remains attached to the feminist literature and critiques of diaspora that precede it – my own included. This essay maps these breaks not by tracing geographies of diaspora, per se, but by turning to the materiality of the body in the work of African feminist writers and artists. The subjectivity and aesthetics of the body are grounded in feeling, experience, and the local, even as they do not (have to) romanticize or

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

 

authenticate those connections as free from the flows of global capital or colonial histories. Instead, the work of Theresa Ikoko, Tjawangwa (TJ) Dema, Mutu, and others suggest ways to open up diaspora by going into the labor of constructing, perceiving, and living through the body and feminine embodied experience. These authors and artists deploy thick descriptions to belie what Elizabeth Anker has termed the “bloodless” trend of human rights and critical human rights studies. Anker’s is a global companion to Coly’s work, as well as the work of Simidele Dosekun, Oyèrónké Oyěwùmí, Sylvia Tamale, Naminata Diabate, Keguro Macharia,_ and the GLQ special issue Time Out of Joint, in moving embodiment and the difficult material, conceptual, and sexual desires that append it to the center rather than the margins of theories of diaspora. Centering African-based theories of the diaspora feminist body and embodiment risks the reinscription of Western narrative types and glosses of colonial women’s sexuality and gender performance, as Coly argues. But as the above scholars often attest, critical attachment to countering these scripts also reinforces their grip in resistant responsiveness. What (else) has the Black feminine body been? Where (else) can it go? Key to this essay’s argument is thinking beyond if not against the teleology of the novel and its own necessary emplotments and attachments to forms of self-making and nation-formation that others in postcolonial studies have long critiqued. If astute critics like Susan Andrade have asked us to reconsider the domestic allegory as national and postcolonial allegory, this essay pushes diaspora studies, like Macharia, on its intellectual geography and on its metaphors of meaning through centering “drafts” of the body as they appear, always in flux, in poetry, drama, and visual art. Draft and flux, then, suggest the labor involved in making, unmaking, and interpreting subjectivity in the diaspora – a way of understanding diaspora subjectivity and bodies/subject themselves as both rooted in the past and routed through uncertain futures by choice and/or by structure. Draft and flux are this essay’s way of pulling back from the methods of absolute identification – through gender and sexuality – that haunt my previous work and the field of feminism in favor of a way of reading diaspora literature through the vagaries of feminine embodied experience and its dynamics across centuries, continents, genres, and contexts. As Mutu’s title “A Fake Jewel in the Crown” references British colonialism and the feminization of the colony and colonial subjects, it calls to the ways that diaspora is always already constructed through the symbolic, representational, reproductive, and material labor of the feminine body. Mutu’s work, with its viscera and ostentatious conjunctions of organic and

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inorganic, of embodiment and the speculative – with its resonances in futurity, potentiality, visuality, uncertainty, and risk – stages the limits and possibilities for diaspora ways of comprehending feminine desire, sexuality, health, and pleasure as well as the embodied risks of violence, violation, pain, and psychic injury. But in the turn away from the narrative arc of the novel, this essay hopes to explore other literary and cultural modes of understanding and representing the speculative as an African feminist aesthetics of diaspora. TJ Dema’s poetry in The Careless Seamstress () presents the experience of the body as generational, flexible, and shifting in its complex relationship between the social and the quotidian working of the body, from menstruation to the production and wearing of fashion. Theresa Ikoko’s play Girls () locates its characters in the acute imagination of the Chibok girls, even as it always maintains distance and difference, an insistence on being watched, as the particular subject of any African feminist fantasy – ambivalent and yet uncompromising in the range of embodiments it attaches to the flattest exported narratives of African women. Like Mutu’s work, this poetry and performance work refuses the celebratory, reparative, and resistant – it argues against the recalibration of African women or diaspora feminism into wholeness or certainty, and yet also exceeds the mourning and, to misuse both the titles of Tsitsi Dangarembga’s novel and Teju Cole’s essay on (post)colonial public grief over mass violence, mournable body. Through the representations of the material of the body – scans of uterine fibers, menstrual blood, the unending tending to constantly reopened wounds – these texts refuse the usual routes of diaspora even as they cross their well-worn paths, always making how we look and the sensations of looking and feeling the center of a diaspora that is allowed to stagnate instead of move, to risk severing rather than reproducing easy genealogies of community at home or abroad. While feminist diaspora literary criticism already critiqued and had complicated relationships to cosmopolitanism, the turn here is not only to the domestic but also to the body and its materiality. It is also a turn that moves beyond the novel to the dynamic production of theater, film, art, poetry, and criticism that is informed by diaspora flows located on and in the feminine and queer body. In particular, I focus on the black African women’s body, how is it imagined at large as a sight of radical difference through postcolonial trauma and violence, and how authors negotiate this sense and appetite for the black African women’s body abroad with their own production of complex responsiveness to diaspora flows.

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“All Carnage and No Story”: Diaspora Poetics of the Everyday Body Tjawangwa (TJ) Dema’s debut book of poetry, The Careless Seamstress (), manages to be both spare and visceral in its short-lined verses about embodied experience. In “Not No Body,” found nearly halfway through the collection, she starts mid-thought: “and before we did not think of ourselves / as bodies” (). Elegantly and sparely telling the “story” of first menstruation, the poem offers a poetics of a body that has “wandered off” repeatedly in different radical and yet quotidian moments of change and becoming. Rather than retelling this as a moment of empowerment or revelation, Dema names it as an alienated betrayal, “like waking up after the war has ended / all carnage and no story” (). Offering a poetics of the ordinary feminine body as both a violent and a mutable/itinerant experience, Dema’s work evokes the scale of known diasporas (such as the referent to “war” in an era of endless global war) in characterizing the hyper-local of bodily function – refusing either as sites of “bloodless” description or romanticized identification. Instead, the narration of the body, through poetics, is piecemeal, uncertain, fragmented – yet nonetheless deeply felt. The context of this fragmentation is both the experience of seeing blood that came from one’s body without one knowing it is happening, and registering the specific scene of its letting – surrounded by family, including her mother and her telephoned aunt alongside “my cousins / her boys” (p. ). As a scene where various cultural affects compete with and alter the speaker’s own feeling about her body, I would argue that “Not No Body” offers a diasporic take on the feminist poem. The speaker relates the materiality of menstruation – its “carnage,” in her terms – as she also insists on not making, and not being able to make, sense or meaning out it, absolutely without the complex inputs of family and the ways the event immediately sexualizes the speaker’s experience of her body. The speaker is being watched, is being transformed before her very eyes by blood (her own body) and by blood (her relations, near and far). The poem does not rail against such transformations from “outside” of the self, refusing to be precious about liberal humanist conceptions of bodily autonomy and choice even as it registers conflict and dissent. The feminine body is not fixed but unfixed through blood for the poem – it cannot mean just one thing even as it has definitive material and cultural limits, even as the speaker watched it “become” something, and someone, else. Significant here is the way that, in the context of modern African poetic traditions, Dema undoes the symbolic as the space for black African

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women (in the vein of Leopold Senghor, for instance, where women figure the nation but are not imagined as equal citizens in its governance), where she represents mother or mother country. Dema does so not by avoiding the body but by going deeper into the body and its representations while at the same time avoiding certainty, or what we might call certain critique. Here we might mark Dema’s work as both generationally and generically different than early independence-era African feminist literature, namely novels such as Nigerian author Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood. Emecheta’s book, long held as a searing critique of limited gendered pathways for women in post-independence Nigeria, can seem relentless in its description of femininity and fertility as sources of trauma in the misogynist African diaspora. But, of course, Emecheta’s work is a novel – and hence must have “story,” in a way that can skew the teleology of criticism on it to match its own plotting. Dema’s work is no less searing in its sharp, clear eye for the social structures that define and often traumatize feminine and vulnerable life; Dema’s medium, poetry, sits with ambivalence within a single poem and across the collection, imagining the visceral and emotional lives of Black diaspora women as they exist within the bounds of and bonds with others. Dema’s poetics – her short lines, her roving personas, her clipped and clear style – offer the possibility of describing feminist diaspora clearly, with blood, but without the interpretive weighing down of story. Dema offers instead, and like Mutu, a microscopic close-up of the Black feminine body as a way of interpreting what we might call the diaspora writ large – the specificity of women’s experience not made separate or wrought as allegory, but made central to understanding the shifting terrains of critique, context, and meaning that diaspora identity and identification entails. She drafts a body that is in flux over space, time, and geography – and even the space of the poem. She drafts a diaspora feminist body where the material of the Black women’s body is both specific and, to borrow a cliché, contains multitudes without idealizing or romanticizing that which it represents. The materiality of Black women’s bodies is, in Dema’s hands, an epistemology of diaspora: “Women know / that sometimes there is blood / but not death” (“Ovaria,” p. ). Theorizing diaspora from poetic descriptions of the felt experience of the feminine body yields a diaspora literature not in the form of the epic but in the shape of “fat thumb pressed to flat-tipped finger. / A steel vein carrying thread where it’s needed, / needle to cloth and the sweeping out of wrinkles / for fabric and sweaty face” (“The Careless Seamstress,” p. ). The labor of repetition, of a minutia of moments, slights, feelings, joys,

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knowledges held close, define this version and vision of diaspora: “A woman knows the way things puncture and hold” (p. ). Yet, even as the speaker of the title poem essays a normative, even universal statement, the poem doubles back, questioning the ways that all relations seem “blind . . . To the country of another’s distress” (p. ), to another’s way of feeling, materially (“the constant fabric under my finger”) the experience of another even within communities of affiliation. Dema’s speakers are not heroic agents but rather keen observers of their own bodies and keen drafters of thick description around the body that connects as well as alienates. The poetics perform this often through metaphors based in traditionally feminized labor, such as the gorgeous fable of “Vesta,” a woman who lives in a pot and escapes her marriage only by causing gastrointestinal distress “the night she made father food / put moselesele in his soup / he spent hour squatting / in the bush then fell asleep / before closing the lid” (p. ). Diaspora is hard work on the body, not just to build new states but to escape those that hem, enclose, and limit for uncertain and perhaps equally limiting futures “like a small story / in her sad/scared mouth” (p. ). Story and body, systems of making sense of the world and the experience of the body, are always intertwined for Dema’s diasporic feminist poetics. Dema’s work then dovetails with new theories of African transnational embodiment like the work of Simidele Dosekun, who writes with nuance about the labor of the feminine-presenting body and its “dress technologies.” While Dosekun’s own work hews toward what she calls “spectacular femininity,” or a set of hyper performances of feminine bodily discipline, Dema’s seamstresses undergird these theories of post-modern, post-feminist diaspora culture by imagining the “Intricate, expensive, physically, and also psychically risky to embody” labor practices of unspectacular femininity as no less involved with “material resources, technical and bodily skill, sheer labor, and mental vigilance and calculation.” The acute attention Dosekun pays to the body – not just what it looks like (to self or others) but the materiality of it and its production – surfaces in Dema’s poetry as when the speaker of Atropos begins: “I have cut many cloths / thumbed cheap Crimplene / vicuna wool and eiderdown” (p. ) before moving through the repetition of stanza lines and laboring movements: “I have cut many cloths / stabbed infants with glass head pins and / patched a dress halfway to the prom” (p. ). The feeling of fabric, the way the self is made through labor for and with others, the ways that femininity is always the work of not just double consciousness as some kind of false or inauthentic self-making (the imagining that that is the tragedy of

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race – inauthenticity) – but double consciousness as a way of feeling through the world and the body that is never, could never, will never, and was never your own. Dema’s diaspora poetics live in the everyday experience of bondedness that is also bound-ness, insistent that “to be summoned in the world as a woman, is no small thing” (p. ). It is an organizing principal for understanding African literature, women’s literature, diaspora literature, and any modern theories of the self and self-making. Intimacy is not good or bad, authentic or inauthentic here – including the readers’ relationship with the speakers’ voices or the lyric personae with their selves, their kin, their communities, their labor. It is, instead, a way of noticing both as and as if one was not in one’s body. The line breaks, the collection’s forms, the crisp and evocative use of short lines, poems, parts – they draft like Mutu in their nonnarrative forms, repeating images and body parts, blurring start and end points – embodying diaspora as unfixed yet specific, hybrid and yet in tension within and exceeding its individual parts.

Girls (Un)Like Us: Theresa Ikoko’s Diasporic Feminist Stagecraft If Dema obliquely engages “colonial discourses of clothing” as a way not of reclaiming but refashioning African diasporic feminist subjectivities in her poetry, Theresa Ikoko’s work for the stage and screen doesn’t go behind the scenes – such as when Dema thinks about the felt life of the production of femininity – as much as she deeply engages the screens that “compulsively haunt postcolonial African discursive engagements with the female body.” Ikoko’s play Girls was written in the wake of national attention to the “Chibok girls,” a group of Nigerian girls and women kidnapped by a terror group and subjected to sexual assault and forced marriage. As the story captivated world audiences, the efforts to recover the captive women and girls were also sporadically covered in the years that followed. Some stories emphasized not just the trauma survivors lived through but their social isolation from their communities upon return, many with children born from their assaults while captive. Girls takes on these layers of representation and reception as its drama, as well as and through the material and psychic costs of the lack of bodily autonomy for Black women – whether from acute forms of spectacular violence, the ordinary will of social order, or in representational diversity in media, art, and culture itself. Most significantly, Ikoko doesn’t shy away from the ways that “girl” itself is a term in flux, drafting a body through the accumulation of time,

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experience, and various fronts of social pressure, as well as individual desire. African women are actors in this transnational performance, producers of their desires, and consumers of media who remake its meanings even as they are, under the drama of the play which takes place in the single room where they are being held, contained, and scripted by them. The play is then aware of the “haunts” of colonial discourse that Coly lays out, but just as invested in being able to perform difference across African diaspora feminine experience, desire, and relation to the body (like many of the performance artists discussed in Coly’s book). In her poetics, Dema goes elsewhere – to the interior voice, the body’s feeling while becoming, drafting the self, in flux – placing diaspora girlhood squarely within a recognized feminist tradition while retaining local specificities in various details. In her visuality, Mutu goes to the medical, the rearranged components of the body that render what is so ordinary as to become invisible – namely women’s material and representational labor – grotesque, distorted, unreal. Ikoko, in the genre of performance, engages in a different kind of speculation, one that is no less a collage than Mutu’s fantastical bodies but is also contained by the limits of the feminine social body more strictly. Choosing to stage her play in a single room with three girls, and only the rehearsed scripts of television to interrupt the scene, Ikoko’s drafting of the diaspora feminine body weaves in the surface of ordinary media itself, constructing the fantasy of media attention to the Chibok girls as both a survey of existing misogyny and also a gloss of available molds and modes of self-making and imagining the self within cultural containment, not just the acute prison created by kidnap, rape, and imprisonment. For Ikoko, this includes television, women’s magazines, patriarchal family and community norms/structures, religion, and so on. Like Tsitsi Jaji’s sensitive scholarly work on the ways that the women’s consumption of media can be significant to both self and worldmaking, the play contains various performances within the performance where the main actors parrot back social scripts – of television sitcoms, religious leaders, and family patriarchs – in mocking tones even as they find themselves direly constrained by the conditions they enable. Ikoko doesn’t unmask these fictions for something “more” authentic but instead investigates feminine agency itself as a fantasy, and in doing so posits fantasy as diaspora feminist act and object. Writing, culture, art, performance, drama – these are not sites of cure but contemplation, sites of opening up the diaspora feminist body that leave it more vulnerable but also risk what comes from pushing on the poles of interpretation that overdetermine the Black diaspora feminine

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body: “colonial noise and postcolonial silence, colonial voyeurism and postcolonial detachment, colonial pornotropism and postcolonial prudishness, colonial exposure and postcolonial concealment.” Girls, like the African American drama Fairview, twists audience expectations around Black diaspora representation. The drama begins with three girls seemingly discussing quotidian life before it reveals them as captives of an organized group terrorizing villages. The play in many ways progresses through realism, with some surreal moments often surrounding the presence of scripted television that puncture the performance, eventually giving way to the revelation of a fantasy play that exposes the entire drama as a traumatic post-violence imagining, or perhaps retelling, of the play’s events. The play occupies a space both known and unknown; the house the titular girls – Tisana, Ruhab, Haleema – inhabit is one of another ravaged village town, not their own. Early into the drama, Tisana announces that she has “found some clean underwear in one of those boxes” among “mostly old bags and newspapers” (p. ), to the horror of her two friends. What follows is visceral, close to the body – Tisana replying to the jibes that “they are warm . . . and dry . . . and not filthy” while going on to speculate about the family that lived there before they were likely massacred. In reference to the underwear next to the newspapers, Haleema speculates that “a woman who wants to know more about the world than which Kardashian’s ass is real or inflatable” (p. ) lived there, while Tisana tries to broach the unbroachable – the violence of this woman’s likely death. Tisana, made out to be the dreamer in delayed womanhood, is schooled in the body by Haleema, the hyper-realist: “And how long do you think bullets take to burst a heart . . . or a brain . . . ?” (p. ). She follows, after Tisana’s insistent optimism, a few lines later in the dialogue: “Because bullets are faster than legs. Because hearts and brains were exploding everywhere, like a film. Kicking her back and forth. Trampling on her. Bursting her little body without bullets . . .” (p. ). This bleak reverie on their capture is explicitly “like a film,” with “all the things that feel apocalyptic” (p. ) adding up in the description until Haleema switches to her pantomimic mocking of previous village life, her dominant mode of critique in the play. Slipping into the cinematic as a way to narrate, reimagine, and perform spectacular violence, as well as to rehearse the ways its constant media representation is a scene of becoming for the body and the self, Ikoko both engages the viscera of acute trauma and the enduring scope of what it means to live through and by cinematic representations of the African

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diasporic feminine body. This vision of violence is, after all, how the “Chibok girls” are known globally, with the pornotropic rehearsal of otherness that somehow mass violence and capture happens elsewhere. Ikoko’s insistence on the material bodies involved coupled with the critical distance of describing it as “like a film” betray both the speculative economy of mass violence largely produced by Western cinema at the same time that they yoke the feminine domestic to this scene of filmic masculinity. Their bodies – bodies of African girlhood that represent the resistant queer realist, the head-in-the-clouds optimist, the unsexualized child, and the complicit maternal – are being read through as they read themselves through various scripts of TV sitcoms, celebrity gossip, community norms, and their own desires. Ikoko’s play, then, both engages and pushes past spectacular debates around agency, choice, and consent that haunt diaspora feminism, particularly symbolized in persistent Western debates around the veil in Arab cultures and infibulation in African politics that imagine the feminine body as singular, monolithic, and docile in the face of “culture,” even as they ignore internal uncertainty and unevenness across geographic and historical borders around these practices, as well as the West’s own long-term, resonant, and analogous practices in the West. Like Mutu, Dema, Coly, and Dosekun’s work – and hewing to Anker’s critique of “bloodless” human rights discourse that cannot engage beyond the sentimental – Ikoko’s play troubles the Western feminist fantasy of the autonomous body without limits and also expands the scope of that critique to include the limits of representational justice, complexity, or realism. Instead, through the introduction of the TV scripts that puncture the performance and the final scene of Tisana playing out the events and dialogue of the play alongside the dead bodies of Haleema and Ruhab while dealing with her own severe injury, Ikoko finally insists on the ostentatiously inauthentic. She uses the piercing of interpretive frame to not invalidate but trouble the bloodless depiction of diaspora women’s sexuality, the ways diaspora feminine embodiment can be represented, imagined, read without resorting to the reactivity Coly lays out, and then challenges in her work. Ikoko does this without fully imagining diasporic women as dupes or passive consumers of the West, as Dosekun skillfully analyzes in her own work on middle-class Nigerian women’s processes of feminine embodiment. As the play winds down and the stark positions offered – representationally and materially – for the becoming of women’s bodies are laid bare, the poles Coly lays out are impressed upon the audience: “You scold T for being beaten and scold me for avoiding it. Don’t you dare judge me for

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surviving. I will do what I have to. This is it. This is our lot” (p. ) says Ruhab, to the audience and to the audience surrogate Haleema, who has been busy staging her plans for violent resistance and escape. There is no easy feminist heroine or critique for the play, for the story of the Chibok girls, for diasporic feminine bodies contained within the ordinary scripts that draft womanhood (laid out and complicated by Dema) as well as the spectacular ones that only focus globally on diasporic women as an act of othering attention. “We are here. Do you want me to be like you, fighting in my mind every day, or like T, letting them use my body as a whipping tree? . . . There are no sides any more!” (p. ) screams Ruhab, as Tisana continues her bodily degradations from her beatings, her “hands are covered in blood. She picks at her wounds and scars. She cries out/ shrieks/screams, over and over, in pain and in tears. She looks from one exit to the other. Back and forth” (p. ). Calling on Sartre’s existential classic No Exit here, Ikoko also calls out, specifically in the title of “girls,” in the “back and forth,” the sense of flux and draft that must be appended to feminine subjectivity even as the material, visceral components of the “real” body are on display and at stake. Ikoko refuses to give up on thick description of bodily sensation even in the face of the sensationalized, if bloodless, subject of human rights.

Beyond Bloodless: Feminist Diaspora Drafts and the Future of Diaspora Bodies of Literature Dema and Ikoko’s work across poetry and drama suggests the possibilities of digging into the spectacularized constructions of feminine embodiment with a difference – drafting versions of these bodies that don’t contest the Western and masculine plots of diaspora womanhood as much as they give them flesh and show the labor it takes to construct these visions from the domestic, the national, and the transnational. Like the splotches of reds and pinks that are internal to Mutu’s A Fake Jewel in the Crown, the texts and readings in this chapter insist on the carnage of feminine embodiment and its representation even as that viscera cannot find a single way out through the tangled network that builds up around the body. This diaspora of meanings is of the body as surely as the more tightly packed center. Mutu, Dema, and Ikoko join a host of scholars in African feminist and queer studies, as well as artists such as Zanele Muholi and Fabrice Monteiro and poets such as Tsitsi Jaji, Mahtem Shiferraw, and Romeo Oriogun in remaking the feminist, queer, sexual body as the center of diasporic cultural practice and thought.

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What can African gendered bodies, and their complex interpretation in literature, teach us about diaspora investments in representation? In staging new paradigms away from the “haunts” Coly so ably diagnoses, these cultural producers can represent the constraints of double consciousness – always seeing beforehand the way your work, your body, your writing will be read into existing paradigms – without letting go of the pleasures of the body, or fixing them to one space, time, or political expression in an impossible effort to pin down something fully outside of those scripts. Dema and Ikoko risk showing us how the diasporic feminist body is constantly being drafted, internally and externally, without resolving their authorial voices into prescriptive trajectories or outcomes. “This is it . . . There are no sides anymore” (Ikoko, pp. –). It’s hard to feel this as a rallying cry for the futures of diaspora literary study, but in letting go of the understandable wish to defend and protect the fragile room that diaspora feminist literature has carved out for itself, the field of literary and cultural study can look anew at well-worn and fresh objects. “All carnage and no story” is unmooring, yes, as a critical battle cry – but as a place to start from, it can begin to shed the critical weight of the stories we’ve already told and been told about diaspora, not by including women or queer authors into the already existing fold but by finding new modes of articulating diaspora where it lives, moves, and shifts – in and of the body as it moves in the world and in systems of interpretation.

Notes  Wangechi Mutu, A Fake Jewel in the Crown, , .  . cm, available at: www.artnet.com/artists/wangechi-mutu/a-fake-jewel-in-thecrown-nutEOJTWqPiIdLdaSw (last accessed August , ).  Samantha Pinto, Difficult Diasporas: The Transnational Feminist Aesthetic of the Black Atlantic (New York: New York University Press, ).  Ayo A. Coly, Postcolonial Hauntologies: African Women’s Discourses of the Female Body (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, ).  Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin, The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures (London: Routledge, ).  Elizabeth S. Anker, Fictions of Dignity: Embodying Human Rights in World Literature (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, ).  Kirk Fiereck, Neville Hoad, and Danai S. Mupotsa, “A Queering-to-Come.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, , no.  (): –; Keguro Macharia, Frottage: Frictions of Intimacy Across the Black Diaspora (New York: New York University Press, ); Oyèrónké Oyěwùmí, The _ Invention of Women: Making an African Sense of Western Gender Discourses

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              

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(Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, ); Sylvia Tamale (ed.), African Sexualities: A Reader (Cape Town: Pambazuka Press, ). Susan Z. Andrade, The Nation Writ Small: African Fictions and Feminisms, – (Durham: Duke University Press, ). Tjawangwa Dema, The Careless Seamstress (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, ). Theresa Ikoko, Girls (London: Bloomsbury, ). All subsequent citations in parentheses. Tsitsi Dangarembga, This Mournable Body (Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, ). Tjawangwa Dema, The Careless Seamstress (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, ). All subsequent citations in parentheses. Leopold Sedar Senghor, “Femme Noire.” In The Collected Poetry of Leopold Sedar Senghor, trans. Melvin Dixon (Charlottesville: Caraf Books, ). Buchi Emecheta, The Joys of Motherhood (Oxford: Heinemann, ). Simidele Dosekun, Fashioning Postfeminism: Spectacular Femininity and Transnational Culture (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, ), . Ibid., . Coly, Postcolonial Hauntologies, . Ibid., . Tsitsi Ella Jaji, Africa in Stereo: Modernism, Music, and Pan-African Solidarity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, ); Tsitsi Ella Jaji, Beating the Graves (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, ). Nicole R. Fleetwood, Troubling Vision: Performance, Visuality, and Blackness (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, ). Coly, Postcolonial Hauntologies, . Jackie Sibblies Drury, Fairview (New York: Theatre Communications Group, ). One could argue that it is the counter-play to African American playwright Lynn Nottage’s own human rights drama, Ruined (New York: Theatre Communications Group, ). Fabrice Monteiro, The Prophecy (San Francisco: Chavez Museum of Art, ), available at: https://fabricemonteiro.viewbook.com/ (last accessed August , ); Zanele Muholi, Isilumo siyaluma (Cape Town: Blank Projects, ), available at: https://blog.ormsdirect.co.za/exhibition-isi lumo-siyaluma-by-zanele-muholi/ (last accessed August , ); Romeo Oriogun, Sacrament of Bodies (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, ); Mahtem Shiferraw, Your Body Is War (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, ).

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Of Origin and Opportunity Co-narratives of Refugitude in Roxane Gay’s Ayiti Lauren K. Alleyne

Refugees are very particularly constructed in the public imagination – destitute, traumatized, and fleeing. These images proliferate, disseminated by well-meaning individuals and organizations, often with the goal of activating humanitarian responses and eliciting financial and political assistance. These images circulate in a discourse that also works against the refugees they ostensibly serve: the refugee becomes a figure stripped of both context and interiority, reduced to a vessel for pity, charity, and/or contempt. Liisa Malkki’s now-classic work on the damaging effects of this conception of refugees argues that it, in fact, “dehumanizes” the refugee by reducing suffering to spectacle, and “decontextualizes” the refugee politically and historically. Building on Malkki’s work, Prem Kumar Rajaram argues that this figuration of the refugee ultimately “abstracts individual experiences of displacement from the political, social and historical context while putting in their stead a depoliticized, dehistoricized and universalized figuration of the refugee as mute victim.” In this light the refugee is figured as “bare life” in Giorgio Agamben’s terms – without nation, without culture, without agency – desperate, destitute, degraded. Critical Refugee Studies (CRS) is a recent initiative that challenges these popular and ongoing narratives of spectacle and abjection by offering conceptual and contextual frameworks that center refugees as discursive subjects and as resilient, innovative, and radically optimistic despite harrowing conditions. The collective aims to provide “a humane and ethical site of inquiry that re-conceptualizes refugee lifeworlds not as a problem to be solved by global elites but as a site of social, political and historical critiques that, when carefully traced, make transparent processes of colonization, war, and displacement.” Using Roxane Gay’s short story collection Ayiti as an example, this paper operationalizes two critical frameworks offered by CRS to posit literature as a particularly useful vehicle through which these polarized discourses can exist as co-narratives that both acknowledge the grand 

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scenes/sites of tragedy and the often-overlooked interior and contextual dimensions of the refugee. First, I use founding CRS members Lan Duong and Yến Lê Espiritu’s “Feminist Refugee Epistemology,” which critiques the representation of the refugee as merely abject and spectacular, and instead articulates an alternative practice that focuses on “the intimate politics of the everyday.” Duong and Espiritu’s framework examines the quiet, the domestic, and the expressive in order to reveal “the refugees’ rich and complicated lives, the ways in which they enact their hopes, beliefs, and politics.” In addition, I turn to the term refugitude, coined by Khatharya Um and included in the CRSC’s critical vocabulary, which is defined thus: Refugitude connotes the state, conditions, and consciousness of being a refugee. It places refugee experiences and meaning making at the analytic center without dismissing the role of external forces and conditions in producing refugee dislocations . . . The conditions and consciousness of being a refugee, however, often outlast the expiration of the politico-legal status; that very expiration itself is a denial of the persisting challenges facing the refugee individual, families, and communities.

Um’s term and its definition shift the static “refugee” to the more dynamic space, which focuses as much on the interior landscape of the individuals inhabiting that label as the actions and external impositions, declarations and interpretations of law, theory and politics. With this shift comes the introduction of the consideration of interior time; in defining refugitude, Um points to the “expiration” of the politico-legal status as inadequate when applied to the lived experience of refugee persons, claiming that there can be no true end or termination of an individual’s internal experience of being a refugee even as that status expires in other spheres. I utilize and expand upon these two conceptual frameworks to read Roxane Gay’s collection, Ayiti, as an example of a text in which the intimate and spectacular work as co-narratives alongside each other to lend both dignity and clarity to the condition of the refugee. In particular, I am interested in how literary fiction can disrupt both existing narratives by opening imaginative space: On the one hand, alternative perceptions of refugees – ones that operate in the “quiet” that Duong and Espiritu claim as a space of power and generativity – might activate a different kind of discourse and empathy; on the other, they can also give space to the urgent sociopolitical conditions from which the refugee often emerges. This kind of analysis has a long history in rights discourse. In her book, Fictions of Dignity, Elizabeth Anker explores the ways in which aesthetic expression, particularly literature, “might replenish and recuperate our

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increasingly depleted cultural and social imaginaries,” going so far as to claim that “an imaginative mapping of human rights must necessarily begin with aesthetic experience.” In her book, Salvage Work, Angela Naimou looks to literary texts to “give narrative shape to the legal forms of life that traverse the interstices between ideal citizen and bare life” and argues that literary narrative “offers provocative ways of thinking anew the politics and poetics of personhood.” Focusing specifically on Haitian refugees, April Shemak looks to the literary as a space of witness and considers “how testimonial narrative and human rights become inflected through the literary.” These analyses at the intersection of rights work and literary narrative lay the groundwork for my reading of Gay’s collection of stories as one that troubles spectacularized narratives of refugees, while putting refugee interiority in a larger socio-political context. Moreover, by highlighting the intersection of the internal and temporal dimensions of refugitude, Gay’s narratives not only function within, but also expand the possibilities of the kind of capacious and refugee-centered reading for which CRS advocates. In Ayiti, Gay makes visible the ways that the contemporary interference of other states (most notably the United States) and the history of colonialism that ravished countries like Haiti create a climate in which the notion of “home,” with all its affective connotations, is always bedeviled: to be from such a place is to always be thinking of leaving it. By reading the stories as a site of internal mapping, the narrative gives access to the interiority of characters who are in various points of the timeline of refugitude, regardless of their physical location or legal status. Thus, in addition to refugitude going past the end of “refugee status,” these narratives reframe refugitude’s point of origin, that is, locates the refugee as one who is necessarily displaced long before s/he activates the mechanisms that set the legal/political instruments in motion. This expansion of the concept of refugitude, in giving access to the interiority of persons living in that state, also allows a wider range of emotional complexity than is generally given in other spheres of discourse. Most important, perhaps, is the access it gives to refugee dignity, hope, and determination; their calculations and assumption of risk and loss; the fraught and various relationships to “home”; the emotional, historical, and cultural connections that exist alongside desperation, danger, fracture, and trauma. As Teresa Hayter points out in her book Open Borders, “migrants and those who facilitate their migration resort to staggering feats of ingenuity, courage and endurance to assert their right to move and to flee.” Literary narrative offers a platform that requires the action of plot and the interiority of character; thus, the degraded and abject refugee

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figure can also be constructed as hopeful and autonomous, and the journey that is refugitude interpreted as both tragic and epic. Refugitude as portrayed in Gay’s collection is revealed as a condition marked by both rupture and regeneration, a site of pain and possibility both abject and empowering. This reading renders the text itself a truly viable co-narrative space to hold the ongoing contentious discourses around Haitian refugee flows to the United States.

“With Longing in Our Mouths”: Haitians in American Legal Discourse The “Haitian Refugee Crisis” has had a long presence in North American discourse, most recently in November  as the Trump administration declined to renew the temporary protected status of some , Haitian refugees living within US borders. The conflict between the United States and Haiti is marked by several key issues, but the two I wish to focus on here are the US government’s convenient and rigid distinction between “political refugees” and “economic migrants,” and the spectacle of interdiction in action, which featured US Coast Guard cutters turning away boatloads of Haitian would-be asylees in order to prevent their arrival on American shores. In dealing with the “Haitian Refugee Crisis,” the United States government deployed two main tactics in order to avoid activating the rules of international law and policy with regard to refugees. First, great efforts were made to cast the Haitians as regular migrants, insinuating that the claim for asylum was in fact a ruse to circumvent immigration controls, and positing that there were no persecution/political conditions that would make them eligible to claim refugee status. It was a particularly scandalous claim, as the United States has been publicly and notoriously involved in the political struggles that have long plagued the island nation. US policies supported the Duvalier regime, recognized as one of the most brutal, corrupt, and long-lasting dictatorships in the island’s history; thus, US intervention had not only political but also economic ramifications for the general population, as under the Duvaliers “wealth was systematically extracted by a political regime based on terror.” Thus, it is disingenuous to make distinctions between these two categories of migrants, which in the case of Haiti are inextricably intertwined. Second, legal representatives of the state latched on to an operational definition of a refugee created by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which specifies that, for individuals to claim the

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status, they must have crossed an international border. Thus, the state argued (and won) in court that while it is obliged to consider all asylum claims of refugees within its borders, that it is within its rights to prevent individuals (specifically, in this case, Haitians) from crossing its borders “illegally.” This statist claim reduces seeking asylum to a technical and logistical obstacle course, rather than an opportunity to seek relief from the “persecution” upon which the definition insists. It creates an absurd state of affairs in which, as theorist Matthew Gibney points out, “Western states now acknowledge the rights of refugees but simultaneously criminalize the search for asylum.” Elizabeth Anker sums this legal maneuvering up succinctly: “the discourse of human rights has grown distant from the early hopes that forged it, becoming an obstructionist idiom that increasingly fulfills the opportunistic ends of selfish actors.” The justification for the United States government’s inhumane policies against Haitian asylum seekers was enabled by shrewd (and skewed) interpretations of the definition of the term “refugee.” Interdiction, particularly, is based on defining, in terms of territory, the point at which an individual legally becomes a refugee, and thus can claim the protection of the intended host state. However, these policies are significant not only because they have shaped the narratives of Haitians in the United States for decades, but because they shift the ground of definition from “who” is a refugee to a more critical question: when does the condition of refugitude begin? The question of “when” an individual becomes a refugee can cut both ways. The United States (like other wealthy northern states) has clearly opted for an “ungenerous” interpretation that is bound to crossing of the territorial borders by which the state defines itself. However, ethical, political, and legal theorists (e.g., B. S. Chimni and James Hathaway, among others) have claimed in arguments about refugee entitlements regarding resettlement and repatriation that it is necessary to consider the context from which refugees emerge, including the fact that, in some cases, many of the conditions from which they seek refuge have been created by the countries in which they seek refuge. Thus, a nonstatist definition of the refugee must consider the ways in which the actions of other countries – in the case of Haiti, the United States – actually create and/or maintain the conditions of displacement, statelessness, lack of safety, and access to resources that propel the refugee to flee her/his country of origin. Thus, distinguishing between “economic” and “political” migrants becomes a “chicken and egg” conundrum, with neither one legitimately able to precede the other.

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Additionally, while the physical and territorial crossing of an international border technically activates refugee status, given the aforementioned contexts, I would argue that it is the movement across invisible internal borders that activate the condition of refugitude. While the narrative of abjection portrays refugees solely as desperately scrabbling out of hellish and untenable countries of origin, a less spectacle-based, more nuanced understanding would consider that, while such an exit may or may not hold true, to become a refugee means that one must leave one’s home, culture, and land to assume a whole other eclipsing identity. It is that internal breaking of ties – that psychic and emotional severing – that marks the true moment an individual becomes a refugee, regardless of whether or not a physical border has been crossed. In other words, the condition of refugitude begins in the home country that has ceased, in one way or another, to be “home.”

“A Home Nonetheless”: Claiming and Constructing Haitian Cultural Contexts in Ayiti From its very title, Gay’s Ayiti lets us know that this book will give us this country, its people, and their stories on its own terms. The use of the Kreyòl Ayiti rather than the Anglicized “Haiti” signals the project of claiming that is central to the book’s concerns. The first stories of the collection tackle stereotypes, including the most common type of hyperbolized narratives of Haiti/Haitianness: the stories present Haiti as beloved and center this love and pride for Haiti, while both pointing out and dismissing negative narratives. The opening story “Motherfuckers” immediately sets up the parameters of this struggle. The story is of a fourteenyear-old Haitian boy Gérard, who “spends his days thinking about the many reasons he hates America.” Gérard learns that his classmates have given him a nickname (“HBO”) and for a long time he thinks it is a reference to the cable channel, which he doesn’t have, but is proud they think he has. It is weeks before he figures the acronym out: he arrives to school to discover a bag of various perfumes in his locker with HBO written on the outside. At first, he doesn’t understand, but then his cousin explains what HBO in fact stands for (p. ). Several things are interesting about how Gay writes this micro fiction piece: first, she never in fact spells out the pejorative acronym in the story, which in many ways tell us that she believes her average American reader would either be able to piece it together or, would, in fact, be familiar with the term – we already know the narrative. While she does not give space or

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voice in the story to that negative narrative, what she does do is spend almost a third of the story outlining Gérard’s father’s ablutions: “His father splashes his armpits with water, then lathers with soap, then rinses, then draws a damp washcloth across his chest, the back of his neck, behind his ears. His father excuses Gérard, then washes between his thighs” (p. ). Describing the process of the father’s hygiene practice implies that Gérard’s is similar, which debunks the myth at the base of the classmates’ cruelty; but, beyond this, Gay firmly locates the ritual in the two contexts that both Gérard and his father inhabit. On the one hand, we learn that “Gérard’s father does not shower every day because he has yet to become accustomed to indoor plumbing” (p. ); this is a habit born of a different environment and circumstance than the one Gérard and his father find themselves in now. On the other hand, Gay gives the continuation of the ritual meaning in the family’s current context as outsiders in America, where “Gérard sits on the edge of the bathtub and watches his father because it reminds him of home” (p. ). What is odious to Gérard’s classmates and earns Gérard scorn is for him a connection and lifeline to the place he no longer lives, and one for which he has longing despite its material shortcomings. The collision of contexts here is clearly and sharply drawn, and through Gay’s succinct sketch we’re able to see an intimate moment and its misreading in the external world: what is stereotype if not practice removed from its contextualization? Espiritu and Duong claim that what spectacle does is “render invisible and inaudible displaced people’s everyday and out-of-sight struggles as well as their triumphs.” Gay’s story does the opposite by in fact offering this very aspect visible. “About My Father’s Accent” contrasts responses to a Haitian father’s accent. For his children, Haiti is synonymous with “his voice [which] sounds like Port-au-Prince, the crowded streets, the blaring horns, the smell of grilled meat and roasting corn, the heat thick and still” (p. ), and again we are given Haitianness on its own terms. But the construct of time intrudes, and for the children the feeling that “all we heard was home” is only true until “the world intruded” (p. ). Again, while Gay never directly represents the American perspective of the father’s thick accent, its presence exerts itself on the story through the simple phrase “unkind American ears” (p. ). However, Gay’s narrative remains firmly centered on the experience of these children growing up in one country, while considering another “home,” and the father who, though “he’s been on American soil for nearly thirty years,” roots them to that place, and still carries home in his throat. It is moments and perspectives like this that

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refugee-centric frameworks seek to unearth and to place alongside other kinds of narratives. Throughout the collection, Gay not only shows us scenes that offer a counter-spectacular narrative, but also shows the characters as having the wherewithal and agency to resist the narratives that would dehumanize or shame them. In “Motherfuckers” for example, prior to the discovery of the true meaning of his nickname, Gérard responds “Yippee Kai Yay!” as a nod to his favorite Bruce Willis character, but once he understands he is being mocked, his response is not shame but vengeance. Gérard weaponizes the “gift” that was meant to be an instrument of humiliation, and “applies cologne so liberally it makes his classmates’ eyes water.” While it is clear that he is supposed to feel discomfort, Gay doesn’t write Gérard as a victim, but as one who resists and triumphs in his own small way: “when they call him HBO, he adds a little something to his Yippee Kai Yay” (p. ). His action resists shame and in so doing claims his Haitianness as valid in the face of contempt. Moreover, the story allows both acknowledgement of the aggression and hostility that Haitians face based on the narratives at work in American culture, and the characters’ resiliency and ability to withstand and ingenuously respond to these moments. “The Dirt We Do Not Eat” most directly addresses the idea of dignity – its imagined lack and insisted-upon presence – with regard to Haitian people. The story is formulated as an exchange of letters between the cousins Elsa and Sara. Sara lives in Miami and, every month, sends Elsa a letter “thick with news and US dollars and promises of a better life, a better place, a better time, better things” (p. ). Elsa’s letter acknowledges that “South Beach sounds like a dream,” but she is internally tortured as she both “misses” and “hates” Sara. However, Sara sends a letter that betrays her own torment, asking “Is it true Haitians are eating mud pies? . . . I will never be able to enjoy another treat if it is true . . .” (p. ). Elsa’s reply bristles with offended pride. She begins with the beauty of the Haitian landscape, describing “white sand” and “water so clear blue it hurt”; she goes on to name the Haitian dishes griot and diri ak Pwa, which contrast with Sara’s sagas of Dairy Queen and McDonalds; she lovingly claims her wayward man, Christian, “who can smell a good meal from between a woman’s thighs,” and describes the joyful familial meal they share. It is only after she has described all the ways that their lives are full that she acknowledges hunger – “We do not enjoy as much food as perhaps we once did . . . some mornings we wake, our stomachs angry”; and only after that does she address Sara’s question: “Some mornings we wake, our stomaches empty, our stomaches angry, but never do we look to the

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ground beneath our feet with longing in our mouths. We chew on our pride. The dirt we do not eat” (p. ). Again, in this story, narrative tools are deployed to create a co-narrative. Gay’s use of the omniscient narrator allows her to directly take on the narrative of spectacle, and point out, immediately after Sara’s letter, that this image of poor mud-eating Haitians with nothing left but “the ground at [their] feet,” popularized on “Euro News and on Radio Metropole,” occurred “because one eager journalist saw what he wanted to see” (p. ). In addition, Gay’s use of the epistle offers a sense of intimacy, and allows the story to respond in a way that both acknowledges the conditions in Haiti, but also retains a sense of pride and rejects absolute abjection. Throughout the collection, Gay uses all the tools at her writerly disposal to establish the Haitian as a real, valuable, and beloved identity both in her/his home country and abroad. The narratives in Ayiti operate under the worldview that, contrary to popular belief, Haitian dignity and selfrespect is inherent; the practices of the culture are credible and potent. The love of country, though complicated in many cases, remains as real as the desire to abandon it. These small but significant moments repeat and reinscribe throughout the narratives, thus challenging the popularized version of a diminished, degraded, and dependent country and community.

“We Are People Living in Two Different Times”: Co-narratives of Refugitude Throughout Ayiti, Gay deftly navigates two realities, two narratives, of Haiti. On the one hand, she affirms the integrity of Haitian culture and identity by constructing and inviting readers to inhabit a world that values and centers the people of Haiti and their experiences. A byproduct of this perspective is access to the interior landscapes of the characters and a detailed and contextually useful setting, which offers a refugee-centric view of narratives usually perceived and presented from the outside and for other agendas. On the other hand, while avoiding (and critiquing) the most egregious of spectacular tropes, Gay portrays the material, historical, and psychological challenges of life in Haiti, particularly how the country’s failing political and economic infrastructure – assisted by American and other international forces – create living conditions that are untenable for its citizens. The intersection of these two narratives, or rather their coexistence, offers a refugee-centric opportunity to consider the status of Haitian

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persons in US spheres of discourse. If, in fact, as Andrew Shacknove argues, “refugees are persons whose basic needs are unprotected by their country of origin,” this condition, then, of unyielding insecurity, in conjunction with the affective attachments that individuals have in varying degrees to their Haitian identity and culture, calls into question the point at which refugitude begins and what it means when an individual assumes its mantle. Gay’s stories insist on this capacious conceptualization, and stage this question through a variety of circumstances that examine and open new ways of understanding. The concept of refugitude as a journey that begins with an internal break with “home” is present throughout the collection. In “Lacrimosa,” the story of the woman who takes in a soldier, the story’s climax is Marise’s epiphany that, within the context of quotidian violence, unstable relationships, and an inability to imagine a healthy future, meaningful action is virtually impossible. She looks at her child trying to build a structure with the remnants of a war that seems to have no end in sight, and she breaks. It is here, at home in her own yard, realizing “what could and could not be” – for herself, for her son – that the possibility of Marise’s refugitude begins. “In the Manner of Water or Light” offers a refugitude that spans three lifetimes. It traces three generations of women – a grandmother, mother, and daughter – to frame refugitude as a condition that can be passed on through time. The story opens “My mother was conceived in what would ever after be known as the Massacre River. The sharp smell of blood has followed her since” (p. ), and goes on to tell the story of the grandmother, who was forced to go to the Dominican Republic upon the deaths of her parents, and was a worker there until General Trujillo decided to purge the Haitians from the DR. The grandmother was handed over to Trujillo’s soldiers and, after an implied rape, discarded in the “Massacre River.” She survived, met Jacques Bertrand, who was also on the run, and they were together only one night before they’re set upon by more soldiers; he sacrificed himself so that she could escape. She has a daughter by Jacques, and though she marries, raises her child, and moves, she is never truly able to move on, never truly recovers from the trauma nor relieves herself of her promise to Jacques that he will “be remembered.” The granddaughter, narrating the story, reports that “it wasn’t until the day my mother left Port-au-Prince that my grandmother became herself again,” while the mother says “her life began the day she got off the Pan Am flight from Port-au-Prince in New York City” (p. ). After thirty years, the mother returns, and the story ends with the three women pilgrimaging to the Massacre River where they “mourned until

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

 . 

morning . . . kneeling in a bed of sand and bones” (p. ). What is interesting about the configuration of refugitude here is how it is both deferred and premature – the grandmother, in her grief, never leaves the land of Jacques Bertrand; however, her response to the departure of her daughter (whom she calls Ti Couer or “little heart”) seems to indicate that she had been waiting for the moment of separation, which is activated by her daughter. For the mother and daughter, however, refugitude is a condition into which they are born: they are both bound to and must separate from the land/country/culture from their very beginnings, lodged as they are “between two geographies of grief” (p. ). The final story in Gay’s collection most completely embodies the co-narrative possibilities of reading refugitude, as the characters openly navigate personal, socio-economic, and political spheres which lead to their decision to begin the journey of their refugitude. “A Cool Dry Place” is the story of a Haitian couple living in the Port-au-Prince. Gabi and Yves are young professionals – she works in an undisclosed office and he has an engineering degree. They live with Gabi’s mother, a widow, and Gabi’s father is dead, murdered by the tonton macoute when Gabi was only five years old. (Again, this simple detail keeps the political state of the nation in the conversation with the reasons for flight.) Through the couple’s daily routines, the oppressive atmospheres of home and homeland are revealed. The story opens with the revelation that Yves walks Gabi to work although he has a car because “petrol is almost seven dollars a liter” and he “fears for her safety” (p. ). Drivers, who one assumes are wealthier because of their working cars, try to “drive them off the road for sport” (p. ), which points to a hostile social and economic milieu. Within the house they share, the atmosphere is dismal, heavy with the mother’s grief for her murdered husband, her fear for her daughter and son-in-law, and Gabi and Yves’s unrelenting sense of helplessness. The story is thick with despair, emptiness, and stasis: though they are ostensibly a family, there are few words between them; they eat, but are never full; they work but are poor; they live in a country that is home and that is impossible to be at home in. Gabi says it best when she claims “we are a people living in two different times,” as she notices the discrepancies between her job where there are “photocopiers, computers, and internet,” and the “shacks with the barest of amenities” she calls home (p. ). These conditions weigh on their lives materially and psychologically, as even the love they share seems out of place “as if there was an unspoken rule forbidding such impossible moments of love” (p. ).

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Of Origin and Opportunity

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At the same time, Gabi and Yves love Haiti. They “have the same conversation almost every day – what a disaster the country has become,” and it causes them “ultimate sorrow, the reality of witnessing the country, the home you love disappearing not into the ocean but into itself” (p. ). The other conversation they have too much is about if and how and when they could afford to leave Haiti and, one day, Yves announces he has purchased passage on a boat to Miami. Gabi is hesitant, thinking “Haiti is not a perfect home, but it is a home nonetheless” (p. ) and, while on the one hand Yves agrees, declaring “I love my country and I love my people,” on the other hand, he claims “that he never wants to return, that he will never look back” (p. ). It is this tension – the questioning, debating, and agonizing (Gabi wonders if they should “stay and fight to make things better, stay with our loved ones, just stay” [p. ]) in conjunction with the oppressive day-to-day life that constructs a different origin point for refugitude. While Yves and Gabi don’t get on the boat until the end of the story, their journey of refugitude had long begun. While the collection gives us both the heartbreaking “before” in stories like “Lacrimosa” and unsatisfactory “after” in stories like “Motherfuckers,” Ayiti also positions the adoption of the mantle of “refugee” as a point of activation that is marked by hope. “A Cool, Dry Place” portrays this transformation differently for each character. For Yves, it is when Gabi decides to put her faith in him, puts aside her reservations about leaving Haiti, and says yes to taking the boat. Gabi notes “Yves smiles more in two weeks than the three years we have been married and the twenty-four years we have known each other” (p. ). Gabi notices that her mother, too, has changed – “the grief that normally clouds her features is missing” (p. ), which points to the generational possibilities of reading refugitude explored earlier. For Gabi, hope is hindered by hesitation. She first notices that the anticipation of escape is in fact pulling her toward Haiti – “I want to feel the soil beneath my back and the stalks of cane cutting my skin. I want to leave my blood on the land and my cries in the air” (p. ). She runs “[her] hands along the walls, tracing each crack in the floor with [her] toes (p. ); and even when she is on the boat heading away from the island, she thinks “Here on this boat may well be the closest I will ever come to knowing my father, knowing what he wanted for his family” (p. ). But the moment arrives for Gabi as they are standing in their small room on the boat. She looks at Yves: He stands near the small bed, his arms shyly crossed over his chest and I see an expression on his face I don’t think I have ever seen before. He is proud,

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 .  eyes watery, chin jutting forward. I will never regret this decision no matter what happens to us. I have waited my entire life to see my husband like this. I see him for the first time. (p. )

Upon seeing how Yves’s acceptance of a refugee identity (and the internal and external shifts such an undertaking demands) has transformed him, Gabi decides to adopt that identity with him, to embrace with him all its problems and possibilities.

“This Moment, Whatever It Is”: A Conclusion Ayiti clearly works against the spectacularized image of Haitian refugees in American imagination. While the collection gestures to the most ubiquitous of those images – Haitians as eating mud, as violent kidnappers, as bloodied victims of Trujillo’s massacres in the neighboring Dominican Republic – the familiarly abject figure of the refugee is a specter in the collection. Thus, what readers see is not only the aftermath in which a refugee washes up on an American shore, but the precursor – a quiet, and less spectacular, but critical and contextualizing “before” which brings into question the parameters and accuracy of our definitions. Most importantly, the collection demonstrates that, within the co-narrative space – holding both the quiet and the spectacular – acceptance of the title of “refugee” emerges as an act of agency. This framework diminishes neither the harrowing experiences nor the personhood and dignity of the refugee.

Notes I would like to thank Dr. Mrinalini Chakravorty at the University of Virginia, the Africana Studies Workshop at James Madison University, and my friends and colleagues Karen Risch Mott, Dr. Besi Muhonja, and Dr. Angela Naimou for their support and feedback throughout the process of producing this work.  Liisa Malkki, “Speechless Emissaries: Refugees, Humanitarianism, and Dehistoricization.” Cultural Anthropology, , no.  (): –. Malkki argues that “refugees stop being specific persons and become pure victims in general: universal man, universal woman, universal child,” the consequence of which, she claims, is “that in universalizing particular displaced people into ‘refugees’ – in abstracting their predicaments from specific political, historical, cultural contexts – humanitarian practices tend to silence refugees” (p. ). While she is specifically critiquing humanitarian organizations, this conceptualization clearly manifests in legal and political theory and policy within which humanitarian work operates.

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

 Prem Kumar Rajaram, “Humanitarianism and Representations of the Refugee.” Journal of Refugee Studies,  (): –, .  The Critical Refugee Studies Collective, available at: https:// criticalrefugeestudies.com/ (last accessed August , ).  Lan Duong and Yến Lê Espiritu, “Feminist Refugee Epistemology: Reading Displacement in Vietnamese and Syrian Refugee Art.” Signs: Journal of Women, Culture and Society, , no.  (): .  Yến Lê Espiritu, Body Counts: The Vietnam War and Militarized Refuge(es) (Berkeley: University of California Press, ), quoted in Duong and Espiritu, “Feminist Refugee Epistemology,” .  Khatharya Um utilizes the term in her book, From the Land of Shadows: War, Revolution, and the Making of the Cambodian Diaspora (New York: New York University Press, ), and it has been adopted by the Critical Refugee Studies Collective as an alternative to refugee/refugeehood, which they claim “has been made synonymous with needs” and holds “reductionist pejorative connotations.”  Um, From the Land of Shadows, quoted on The Critical Refugee Studies Collective homepage. See also Vinh Nguyen, “Refugeetude: When Does a Refugee Stop Being a Refugee?” Social Text , no.  ( June ): –.  Elizabeth Anker, Fictions of Dignity: Embodying Human Rights in World Literature (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, ), . Anker also acknowledges that not all literary interventions are equal; for example, the focus of deconstructionism on “Otherness” and “alterity” can “produce a fetishization of that condition and a sublime fascination with victimization that inadvertently covers over rather than encourages critical scrutiny of the material disparities that generate such failures of justice as well as law in the first place” (p. ). However, this critique is mitigated in this paper by the use of the FRE/CSR frameworks whose goal is to uncover such disparities and to subvert fetishization.  Angela Naimou, Salvage Work: U.S. and Caribbean Literatures amid the Debris of Legal Personhood (New York: Fordham University Press, ), , .  April Shemak, Asylum Speakers: Caribbean Refugees and Testimonial Discourse (New York: Fordham University Press, ), .  Teresa Hayter, Open Borders: The Case against Immigration Controls (London: Pluto Press, ), .  Carolle Charles, “Political Refugees or Economic Immigrants?: A New ‘Old Debate’ within the Haitian Immigrant Communities but with Contestations and Division.” Journal of American Ethnic History, , no. / (): .  Aristide R. Zolberg, Astri Suhrke, and Sergio Aguayo, Escape from Violence: Conflict and the Refugee Crisis in the Developing World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, ), .  The  Supreme Court ruling, Sales v. Haitian Centers Council, upheld that “Article .-affirmatively indicates that it was not intended to have extraterritorial effect,” thereby confirming that if asylees were not within state

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

  



     

 . 

borders, they were not entitled to the protections – including non-refoulement – afforded to refugees. See Sale v. Haitian Centers Council, Inc.,  U.S.  (), available at: https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/ //case.html (last accessed August , ). Matthew Gibney, “‘A Thousand Little Guantanamos’: Western States and Measures to Prevent Arrival of Refugees.” In Displacement, Asylum, and Migration, ed. Kate E. Tunstall (Oxford: Oxford University Press, ), . Anker, Fictions of Dignity, . A term legal expert David Martin uses in “The Refugee Concept: On Definitions, Politics, and the Careful Use of a Scarce Resource.” In Refugee Policy: Canada and the United States, ed. Howard Adelman (Toronto: York University, Centre for Refugee Studies, ), –. These theorists, representing a range of pro- and anti-refugee claims, all acknowledge the role of the economic context from which refugees emerge. James Hathaway, who favors minimal resettlement and is an advocate of repatriation, claims that developmental work in poor countries would stem migrant flows. See “The Meaning of Repatriation.” International Journal of Refugee Law, , no.  (): –. B. S. Chimni claims “that economic or material factors play a critical role in causing refugee flows” (p. ). See “From Resettlement to Involuntary Repatriation: Towards a Critical History of Durable Solutions to Refugee Problems.” In New Issues in Refugee Research (UNHCR), available at: www.unhcr.org/en-us/research/working/aeac/ resettlement-involuntary-repatriation-towards-critical-history-durable.html (last accessed August , ). Roxane Gay, Ayiti (New York: Artistically Declined Press, ), . All subsequent citations appear in parentheses. Gay never says in the text, but it stands for Haitian Body Odor. Duong and Espiritu, “Feminist Refugee Epistemology,” . The quoted line in the section heading is from Gay, Ayiti, . Andrew Shacknove, “Who Is a Refugee?” Ethics, , no.  (): . The quoted line in the section header is from Gay, Ayiti, .

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