UW-Madison Postcolonial, Migration and Transnational Studies
(Part of Worldwide Universities Network (WUN)
June 20-21, 2008
In a population of less than 10 million, Somali's diasporic population is estimated at over a million. Their effect on Somalis at home has been enormous and contradictory. Their remittances sustain 60% of the population and their investment supports 80% of businesses. Yet diasporic Somalis have just been as reliable in their support for conflict. This paper will examine the contributions of diasporic Somalis to state collapse in 1991 and how they have aided the on-going conflict in Somalia since then.
This paper analyzes the pivotal role a Southeast Asian diaspora played in the development of Islam as a new universal - though not cosmopolitan - social order.- Set against the backdrop of spatial displacement, social decay, economic fluctuation, and political dismemberment, this paper focuses upon the making of a diaspora following the destruction of the Patani Sultanate, a polity on the Malay Peninsula, in 1785, and the manner in which Islamic elites of that society forged new bonds with Mecca via scholarly networks. Through the course of the nineteenth century, such scholars flocked to Arabia and adopted a new sense of themselves and their home societies through Islamic education that they transmitted back to the peninsula and beyond. The scholars thus adopted a sort of "curative" universalism that addressed the social fractures of their time, embodied in the Islamic social order and legal codes that they spread across the Malay Peninsula. Through this process, Islam became an imagined though spatially undefined center for the Patani-Malay diaspora, oscillating between two poles: Mecca, the moral authority and producer of knowledge, and the Malay Peninsula, the transformative social space.
This paper suggests that since the mid-twentieth century, the sentimentalized relationship between India and its global diaspora has increasingly privileged the Indian nation at the expense of the community of nations, and hence created a range of anti-cosmopolitan positions, although for different reasons at different times. Between 1834 and 1920, the colonial institution of indenture created diasporic Indian populations in Pacific, African, and Caribbean locations that were disempowered by economic exploitation, racism, poverty, and the lack of a clearly defined political status. But even as Indian nationalist leaders characterized these populations as "Mother India's" abject "children abroad" and advocated their cause at home, the native inhabitants of such countries as Kenya, Uganda, and South Africa saw them as an unassimilated comprador class (a perception that culminated in the expulsion of Asians from several postcolonial African nations in the late 1960s). The first wave of post-1945 Indian migrations to Britain and Canada, fuelled by the need for postwar reconstruction, continued the patterns of the colonial period by transporting largely unskilled minority communities to the West, and instituted the urban ghetto culture in such cities as London, Toronto, and Montreal that is the exact antithesis of cosmopolitan values, on the part of both hosts and guests. After 1965, however, changes in British, Canadian, and American immigration policies enabled the migration of highly educated and skilled Indian citizens to the West, replacing abjection and failure with professional success and economic clout. Through its laws, policies, and fiscal incentives, the Indian government has acted aggressively to draw these "non-resident" professional classes back into the ambit of the nation, sentimentalizing them as children whose first loyalties should be with a resurgent mother nation ("Bharat Mata") rather than with their countries of adoption. The most recent discursive-material formations (1992-) are in some ways the most ironic. Aided strategically by the presence of a global diaspora and the Information Technology boom, India's rapid emergence as a global economic power has now created "India!," a young, virile, hypernational entity to which equally young, virile, patriotic subjects can dedicate themselves without reference to internal differences, but with a swaggering contempt for the world at large. Expressed in such slogans as "Chak De India," "Team India," "Force India," "Lead India," and "India Shining," and currently saturating the mass-cultural media of film and television, this new idea registers the move from feminine to masculine symbolism in the national imaginary, and repudiates the very diaspora of which it is a product.
This paper will re-examine Salman Rushdie's arguments about migration and diaspora in journalistic articles and literary essays that he published in the 1980s, leading up to his representation of the contemporary immigrant's condition in The Satanic Verses (1988). It will juxtapose this material against Rushdie's subsequent reflections on migration in a landmark public lecture such as "In Good Faith" (1990), and in the lectures, reviews, and essays published later in Imaginary Homelands (1992) and Step Across This Line (2002). My goal will be to trace the development of Rushdie's cosmopolitan theory of migration and diaspora, and especially the evolution of his conception of cultural "mongrelization" quite precisely parallel to Homi Bhabha's accounts of "hybridity." Looking back over the two decades since the first violent protests against The Satanic Verses (which occurred in England and Pakistan in September-November 1988), my paper will attempt to offer a critical revaluation of Rushdie's defense of itinerant, migratory, and diasporic cosmopolitan modernity.
The exile is, in Sebald's literature, the paradigmatic figure of modernity and of postmodernity, at once the victim of the destructive processes of history and its privileged witness. This paper examines Sebald's depiction of the Anglo-Irish aristocracy in 'The Rings of Saturn' as an imaginary nexus in his work where diaspora and cosmopolitanism interact. For Sebald, the Anglo-Irish are at once British colonizers in Ireland, and hence premodern agents of colonial oppression, and a stranded, emasculated and post-modern diaspora, exemplified by the Ashbury family of women, barely surviving in a crumbling colonial mansion in Ireland and living on memories.
This paper will challenge the concept of "cosmopolitanism from below" as the new cosmopolitanism produced by late twentieth century diasporic migrations, a cosmopolitanism that has supplanted the privileged forms of "cosmopolitanism from above" associated with modernism in the early 20th century. Monica Ali's Brick Lane (2003, Booker Prize finalist) and Kiran Desai's The Inheritance of Loss (2006, Booker Prize winner) will be discussed to show ways in which diasporic narratives complicate the oppositional cultural theory about cosmopolitanism today. Both writers examine how class, gender, and religion introduce significant variation in the utopic and dystopic potentialities of cosmopolitanism in the colonial, postcolonial, and late 20th century periods of migration.
The 1990s in Britain were characterized by cultural policies aimed at the
inclusion of audiences from diverse ethnic backgrounds in public culture
within a seemingly uncontentious framework of multi-culturalism. The
Numerous intellectuals and activists from the Caribbean have, across the past century and more, been recognized as key figures in the discourse of anticolonialism - and indeed latterly, in what is disconcertingly often used as a semi-synonym, that of postcolonialism. Sometimes it has been suggested of particular individual Caribbean intellectuals - perhaps most especially, Frantz Fanon, Edouard Glissant, and CLR James - that the distinctiveness of their contribution lies above all in the particular combination of anticolonial nationalism and cosmopolitanism they espoused; which is in its turn often linked with special kinds of diasporic, migrant, exilic or (in a distinct variant of such arguments) 'creole' consciousness.
However, all such claims have been contentious and contested. How far can we really speak of a distinctive Caribbean intellectual practice in relation to questions of empire, colonialism, anticolonialism and cosmopolitanism? Can we reconcile the kinds of claim just alluded to with the coexistence in the same milieux, indeed in some of the very same thinkers, of seemingly quite contrary localist, 'nativist' or essentialist ideas? How do -or might-varying arguments about Caribbean 'thinking against empire' relate to those developed elsewhere, perhaps especially in Africa or latterly in a transnational academic 'industry' of postcolonial studies? (In one intriguing recent contribution, for instance, Silvio Torres-Saillant combatively poses a distinctively Caribbean anticolonial intellectual tradition against what have come to be seen as the main currents of postcolonial thought.)
In seeking to reappraise some of these debates and their possible contemporary relevance, my main focus will be on Anglophone Caribbean writers and indeed my discussion will center on three major individual thinkers, from three distinct generations: C.L.R. James, Eric Williams and Walter Rodney. I shall, however, attempt to relate these three men's ideas about empire and its legacies both to parallel and intersecting developments elsewhere in the Caribbean and beyond, and to related ideas in the Caribbean's creative arts and vernacular cultures, especially in music. A series of creative tensions can be seen at work across their writing lives: between aspirations to global analysis, specifically Caribbean-regional preoccupations (plus, for Rodney especially, specifically African ones), and the influence, during significant parts of all their lives, of various migrant locations; between the influences of Marxism, of 'local' anticolonial nationalisms, and of different kinds of Pan-Africanism. It has been almost commonplace to identify James, Williams and Rodney, respectively, with each of those three positions. I shall be suggesting, inter alia, that all of them were actually more interestingly complex than that.
In the French Enlightenment, philosophers were preoccupied by the Roman imperial reorganization of geo-political space and its relation to the decadence or the fall of Rome. Montesquieu in his Considerations on the Causes of the Grandeur and Decadence of the Romans saw decadence as a postimperial phenomenon; a moment characterized by the extreme proximity and hybridity of cultures and cults due to conquest and invasion. This proliferation of cultural codes through the migration of conquered ethnicities to the metropolitan center of Rome led to "a city that was no longer a whole; and as one was only a citizen through a kind of fiction, one no longer had the same magistrates, the same murals, the same gods, the same temples, the same tombs, one no longer saw Rome with the same eyes." Roman decadence allegedly made it "necessary to ask someone before he could be judged what laws and what gods he claimed for himself." The nineteenth century French and English decadent movement in literature and art showed a similar fascination with postimperial cultural hybridity through representations of Salome and the religious dissonance surrounding Herod's court. From Flaubert to Wilde, writers created an aesthetics based on the morbid social potential of proliferating cultural systems. As an example, in Wilde's Salome, when a dead body is found in the court prior to Salome's dance, the Tetrarch automatically scrolls through the possible meanings of cadavers in ceremonies in different cultural contexts before forming any conclusion on what the corpse might mean. This decadent environment is an optimal backdrop for comparison of the mutual decentering of ethnic or cultural identity through diaspora and cosmopolitanism respectively. In this paper I will explore the distinctive paradigms of diasporan and cosmopolitical migration through their application to Roman decadence, as represented in Enlightenment and decadent texts.
Ezekiel Kalipeni, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Using the latest statistical data, this paper discusses the loss of highly trained health care personnel in countries of Africa. The brain drain of skilled health care personnel, particularly physicians and professional nurses, to highly developed countries of Europe, Australia and North America is a reality of the phenomenon of globalization. Countries such as Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe have over 50% of physicians leaving and working abroad in the highly developed part of the world. Over 28% of Sub-Saharan Africa's physicians have migrated to Europe or North America in search of greener pastures. This is also true of professional nurses where over 11% of them are working in the highly developed part of the world. The consequences of the "looting" of highly trained medical personnel to the highly developed parts of the world, we argue, has been tragic for the advancement of health care in Africa. The shortage of staff has made it more challenging for many countries of Sub-Saharan Africa to deliver on essential health. The paper highlights both positive and negative aspects of the phenomenon of globalization with regard to the brain drain of skilled health care personnel in Africa.
It is this public sphere of language and action that must become at once the theatre and the screen for the manifestation of the capacities of human agency.
This paper explores the theatrical career of Mustapha Matura as a case study to examine the artistic response of the West Indian immigrant community to British racist policies and social xenophobia. In order to better understand the relationship between identity and performance for postcolonial, immigrant citizens, I systematically break down thematic and stylistic tendencies in Matura's work. Through this process, I am able to unpack the complex (non)citizenship of West Indian/Black British populations through textual and contextual analysis. This process illustrates the key role that artistic expression, specifically for mixed-race audiences, plays in the establishment of a representative voice. Through social and governmental authority, postcolonial Britain defines whites as legitimate citizens and immigrants from formers colonies as illegitimate occupants.
Matura is one of the earliest playwrights to challenge the racist premise within this postcolonial British system. In doing so, his drama is evidence of the empowerment that immigrant subjects can access in order to vocally pronounce their position as members of British society while confronting race-based oppression. Further, his plays illustrate the ongoing discrepancies of what nationality connotes for immigrants who live in England but lack the racial qualifications to be considered English. This paper will demonstrate how the West Indian diaspora artistically finds a home for a dialogue on race and citizenship in modern Britain. In essence, this paper will introduce a contemporary cartography of postcolonial theatre as an art form that confronts definitions of nationalism and citizenship and positions Mustapha Matura as an agent of diaspora theatre.
This paper analyses a critique of Imperial Germany's expansionist ambitions in the early 20th century as registered in the writings of the Indian nationalist Lala Har Dayal (1884-1939). Along with Virendranath Chattopadhyaya (1880-1937) and Champakraman Pillai (1891-1934), Har Dayal was one of the prominent Indian nationalists who made Berlin a major organizational center and a revolutionaries' diaspora for anti-colonial activism outside of India. As the historian Nirode K. Barooah [1974; 2004] explains, these thinkers took advantage of the tense relationship between Great Britain and Imperial Germany that surfaced clearly in German foreign policy toward British colonies. Har Dayal acquired the leading role in what came to be known as the "Hindu-German Conspiracy." Despite the use of "Hindu" in its name, the Conspiracy actually involved a mobilization of Indian Muslims against the British through the Ottoman Caliphate-a highly influential political and spiritual center for Indian Muslims in the first two decades of the 20th century. Har Dayal went to Istanbul in 1915 to plot a military attack on British India through Afghanistan, but left in 1918 without following through the mission.
Precisely this moment of Har Dayal's career is the focus of this paper. Forty-Four Months in Germany and Turkey (February 1915 to October 1918), I propose, is far from a simple Record of Personal Impressions as the subtitle suggests. The book reflects the author's growing awareness of Germany's expansionist ambitions parallel to his understanding of the political utilitarianism of the Caliphate's "pan-Islamism." Imperial Germany emerges as a western-European nation that exploits pan-Islamism for political gains. In my paper, I spotlight two peculiar dimensions of Har Dayal's diatribe against Germany and Turkey: his curious declarations of the superiority of British imperialism and colonialism over German in tandem with his sharp critique of pan-Islamism as organizational principle for transnational polities. By focusing on these dimensions, I demonstrate the inherently problematic nature of an anti-imperialist critique that is at once cosmopolitan in ambition, diasporic in dimension, and nationalist in aspiration. Through a discussion of Har Dayal as a historical protagonist, and his contestable contentions, the paper sheds new light on the complexities of German colonial and imperial policies and their cosmopolitan critiques.
In a key sense, diaspora as both concept and practice arguably grounds Caribbean communities both at home and abroad, as Stuart Hall sees it, "The diaspora experience... is defined not by essence or purity, but by the recognition of a necessary heterogeneity and diversity [...] Diaspora identities are those which are constantly producing and reproducing themselves anew, through transformation and difference" (1990: 235). Indeed, given the geopolitical character of the Caribbean, historically marked as it is by fragmentation and pluralism rather than integration, a collection of nation-states rather than a single, overarching national entity, diasporic culture's intersection with and inscription of migration produces formative patterns of cultural affiliation, challenging supposedly settled frameworks of social and political geography. These patterns and principles of migrancy in and to the former metropoles inscribes a critical discursive doubleness, drawing on the notion that, in Hall's words, that "a nation is not only a political entity but something which produces meanings -- a system of representation" (1992: 292, emphasis in the original). Rereading the signifier "nation" in this way allows us to critically situate Caribbean diasporic discourses in the realm of culture, as communitarian iterations of the periphery and its experience of the center.
The cultural and demographic phenomenon of Caribbean postwar migration that took thousands of West Indians to the former colonial capitals of Paris and London between 1948 and 2003, and the ways in which these new inhabitants and their descendants came to represent themselves and their experiences in literature and film highlighted the paradoxical dominance of regional identitarian affiliations in the metropole over the colonially-created Caribbean political bodies that emerged from continental policies of 'divide and rule.' As their growing numbers progressively transformed the demography and the culture of the metropole itself, their presence also problematized the limits of the term "postcolonial," in that as the metropoles themselves acquired increasingly striking patterns of postcoloniality, these new European populations concomitantly saw themselves plurally, as European, as Caribbean, but also as part of a 'black' diaspora originally displaced from the African and Southeast Asian continents, and more specifically, as part of an international community that has vibrantly reinvented itself beyond its geographical boundaries. So even as these groups implicitly differentiate themselves from the larger cultures of their respective metropoles, and from the nationalist patterns of their host country, they simultaneously re-site and reframe the traditional identitarian frameworks of their countries and cultures of origin. Through their insistent difference, they displace traditional definitions of diaspora into an explicitly transnational and transformative space of hybridity and renewal.
Thus transnationalism and diaspora are key tenets in the Caribbean region's historical and symbolic framework. But diaspora's central principle of an identifiable, if chimeric national entity cedes, in these multiple Caribbean sites, to a transnational and transcultural inscription of identity, grounded in communities and locations eventuated in history and expanding and protean in the present. Viewed in this way, an ongoing pattern of identitarian doubleness and simultaneity of cultural affiliation comes increasingly to characterize the modern diasporic condition. These interactive patterns of intersection and difference thus relocate many critical categories, including diaspora, ethnicity, and culture beyond established, traditional boundaries of race and place, Britishness, Frenchness, or Caribbeanness. Literarily, the discursive representations of Samuel Selvon's novel The Lonely Londoners, Zadie Smith's White Teeth or Horace Ove's film, Playing Away challenge and extend the foundations and limits of both metropolitan and Caribbean identity. These voices and discourses mark the emergence of an alternative aesthetics of difference that increasingly destabilizes our current notions of nationality and belonging.
A decisive shift in the thinking about Africa and the African diaspora in the modern world occurred in the 1980s. From the late 19th-century to the 1970s, the conception of the place of the black in the world was political qua political, that is, as the problematic of a politically disenfranchised black world in a modernity it enormously contributed to but whose gains are dominated and controlled primarily by the Euro-American world. This was the catalyst behind the exertions of the Pan African Congresses of the early twentieth-century to the writings of W.E.B. Du Bois, Sekou Toure, Kwame Nkrumah, Richard Wright and Eric Williams, to name just a few. Since the early 1980s, however, I suggest that a mode of conceiving Africa and the diaspora that is primarily cultural in orientation has been on the ascendancy. From Stuart Hall to Paul Gilroy and Kobena Mercer and more, much of the recent intellectual production has focused on the "cultural" resilience of the Afro-world in the face of extremely trying circumstances. My speculations on the sociological and historical conditions that subtend the shift revealed that roughly mapped on the change was also an underlying profound shift in the conceptions of what it means for the African to be free or unfree in the contemporary world. Before the end of colonialism in Africa and the Caribbean and the end of Jim Crow in the United States, to be free was to be "politically free," that is, to have equal access to and control of the institutions and resources of the state and equal representation in the systemic domain of the society. No doubt occasioned by post-independent disillusionment in Africa and the Caribbean and an equally disillusioning post-civil rights era in America, freedom began to be thought of as "cultural," that is an emphasis on the realm of individual creativity within the possibilities and constraints of one's ethnic cultural context. It is as if the crisis faced by blacks in the world today is no longer considered "systemic" and therefore requiring political action, but as "lived" and therefore requiring cultural action. My paper is devoted to a robust accounting of the epochal shift. Apart from the professional intellectuals, I also borrow from popular culture producers and genres-after all, the unusual global visibility of Afro-popular cultures since the second half of the last century contributed in no small way to the shift I described-such as Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Bob Marley, Lauryn Hill, afrobeat, reggae, and hip hop to compose my argument. Hanging as a specter over the subject of this paper is the acknowledgment of the paradoxical fate so far of global Afro-cultures: cultural visibility but peripheral political power.
The controversial fast-track land reform process initiated by the Zimbabwean government in 2000 has resulted in the mass exodus of white farmers from the land. Accordingly the topic has attracted a large amount of literature from journalistic accounts, such as Meldrum's Where We Have Hope (2004) and Meredith's Our Votes, Our Guns (2003), to personal narratives such as Cathy Buckle's African Tears (2002) and Beyond Tears (2003), and academic studies like Zimbabwe's Unfinished Business (ed. Hammar, 2003)and Zimbabwe: The Past is the Future (ed. Harold-Barry, 2004). Yet while these accounts examine many facets of the fate suffered by white farmers, they tend to have been sensationalised rather than analysed, focusing on the most severe cases. No systematic study to explore the white farming community's experiences of and reactions to the land reforms has been attempted and it is this oversight that this paper seeks to resolve. A broad series of interviews with farming families has brought to light many startling revelations about the entire land reform process. As much as the governments nationalist propaganda harks back the era of the liberation war, so does the language employed by farmers invoke images and ideologies of the past. These findings illustrate the negative effect events such as forced removal have in reinforcing or reinvigorating sentiments that run contrary to cosmopolitan thought, and challenge the theories of cosmopolitanism proposed by academics such as Appiah and Anderson.
The paper explores how Russian Diaspora uses the Internet as a tool to generate, archive, transmit and consume online content intended to maintain cultural memory and a sense of belonging. Since its inception, the Russian sector of the web has continued the tradition of samizdat and has been largely developed and maintained by members of intelligentsia living abroad. As a result, Rusnet displays specific cultural structures and features, which serve as a point of entry into the study of social, aesthetic and communicative dimensions of "Russia online". Thus, I examine various segments of Live Journal as a form of user generated media to reveal the volatile and vulnerable status of communities and to showcase recurrent cultural traditions and imagery as a consolidating apparatus of transnational communication and identity formation.
In my research, I utilise a sociological approach with emphasis on how users create a sense of community or project their identity with a link to how public policy has responded to the changing mediascape. I combine it with a study of how technology is negotiated in and out of a society that has undergone a dramatic restructuring of social networks and social roles. However, more fundamentally, I adopt a more explicitly cultural approach analysing cultural texts produced in cyberspace and exploring the place of Internet culture in the historiography of the post-Soviet space. I draw on social network analysis methodology taking account of the question of "parasocial interaction" and "taste culture", along with the performative dimension allowed by the Internet.
Several recent Francophone novels and films have departed from the most accepted and common topics of French Postcolonial diaspora literature and cinema; the struggle for independence from the coloniser and the identity crisis of the second generation now living in the former colonial metropole, in order to situate themselves within a larger, cosmopolitan sphere; the long standing and wide-ranging cultural representations of the Second World War and the Holocaust.
This paper proposes to examine this question through a novel (Boualem Sansal, Le village de l'Allemand ou le journal des freres Schiller, Gallimard, 2007) and a film (Indigenes, Bouchareb, 2006), both cultural products of Algerian diaspora artists, now living in France. The first work charts how an Algerian immigrant in France negotiates his father's past in both the Algerian War of Independence and the Nazi concentration camps, while the second is concerned with bearing witness to the role of France's colonial troops in liberating the 'motherland', a story long forgotten, even repressed.
The paper will analyse the role of these depictions of World War Two in allowing diaspora authors to step out of the traditional binaries of coloniser/ colonised, in order to assert their place within both French and World History. It will also consider how these works fit into the concept of 'une litterature monde en francais' (a world literature in French), launched by forty-five leading writers (including Sansal) in a manifesto in Le Monde des Livres in March 2007, which proclaimed a cosmopolitan literary revolution; the decentring, even the destruction of Francophone literature.
International borderlands frequently lack the cosmopolitan characteristics that one might expect to find where two or more nation-states meet. In the case of the German-Polish borderland, a long history of conflict and reciprocal resentment continues to impede the development of an open, cosmopolitan space in which German, Polish and other European citizens interact willingly and freely across the border.
For the travellers who pass through them, borderlands are points of transit and transition; crossing points on the journey from one place to another. To whom transit is granted is, however, a question of privilege, and those who are not privileged remain trapped in the borderland; unable to reach their destination and, in many cases, unable or unwilling to return home. They are thus forced to set up temporary home and to interact with the borderland inhabitants, with varying degrees of success. In stark contrast, tourists and business travellers with valid papers and money to spend, are invited to pause a while, to break their journey in the hotels, shops and restaurants of the borderland.
This paper examines the relationship between borderland inhabitants, migrants and tourists at the German-Polish border as represented in two German films. In Lichter (2003), director Hans Christian Schmid depicts the often tragic experiences of a group of Ukrainian refugees abandoned by traffickers on the wrong side of the then EU outer border. Their fate is almost entirely dependent upon the 'hosts' that they encounter in the borderland: a kind Polish student who opens his door to them or the pariah-like traffickers who lurk outside his cafe; a disillusioned and sympathetic interpreter working for the border authorities or a poor taxi driver, desperate to make enough money to buy his daughter's First Communion dress and thus willing to exploit those poorer than himself. In Schroder's Wunderbare Welt (2007), Michael Schorr presents a borderland on the brink of Poland's admission to the Schengen zone and the luxury of 'free travel'. Shroder has found an American investor to fund his dream of constructing a luxury, tropical holiday resort in the run-down no-man's land between Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic. Now that the unwanted migrants are stopped by EU controls at Poland's eastern border, wealthy tourists should be brought in to enjoy the unique hospitality of the borderland.