European Commission - 7th Framework Programme European Museums and Libraries in/of the age of migrations last updated: February 2015

Transnational Narratives of Performed Exile and Englishness

15 May 2015


Dr. Catalina Florina Florescu (Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, English Department, Pace University) is currently calling for papers for White, Black, Yellow, Digital: Transnational Narratives of Performed Exile and Englishness, a collection of essays on the theme of diaspora literature and immigrant experiences.


In the PMLA inaugural edition released in 2014, Professor Simon Gikandi of Princeton University published an editorial titled, “Provincializing English,” that (in part) constitutes the foundation for my collection. Dr. Gikandi explains that there is no English but Englishes, a concept that is not novel, and yet not fully embraced by and/or employed in the academic circles. As Dr. Gikandi argues, “An effective way of dealing with anxieties that English generates is to deprive the language of the ecumenical status of the global and to represent it as one language among many, to provincialize it, as it were.” By so doing, “English can be celebrated not as part of a global drive toward monolingualism but as part of the diversity.” Furthermore, there is no universal English throughout the world, but there are many standardised Englishes. That proves that we can talk about many manifestations of the English language as a process to which new forms will be continuously added.

White, Black, Yellow, Digital: Transnational Narratives of Performed Exile and Englishness is a study about diaspora literature and immigrant experiences, and how the idioms brought and performed by immigrants continue to reshape the English language. The contributors focus on how in the digital era physical distances have collapsed and the borders have become less rigid. Furthermore, the study contemplates the emotional and linguistic cartography of exile, i.e., its evolution as a word and concept since Ovid’s time until our glocalised society.
Is today’s exile perpetually deferred because it is a state that does not ever truly reach maturation, but, like a pendulum, swings back and forth, back and forth? Should we thus talk about its plural form rather than limit it to singular? People’s exile-s would imply that immigrants traverse uninterrupted episodes and would replicate the phases in the development of their own Englishes. Then, perchance, an exiled identity would have positive connotations and would give up its clichéd stigma.

The collection will be divided into three sections, each with 4-5 chapters.
Part one is about the balancing acts conducted in English when one moves from one’s native language. How long does it take for the brain to feel linguistically safe to perform in the adopted language while sifting its imperfections? Does one continue to translate his/her ideas and feelings constantly, or is translation just a transitional phase of immigration? Does an immigrant/exile fully acknowledge his/her contribution to Englishes? Scholars with a background in the study of English and translation are highly preferred. Bilingual essays and/or bilingual passages are strongly encouraged.

Part two relies on the assumption that, because of the Internet, there is a new hybrid in the making, also referred to as “real virtual spaces,” where the dichotomy of “here” and “there” is barely distinguishable. A person may be physically in one location, yet s/he may Skype with his/her family members trapped in spaces miles and miles away. Google maps can also explore destinations that are physically removed from proximity. One’s geographical presence becomes obsolete in this new digital scheme that offers us glimpses of our computerised selves. Contributors of this section are invited to explore the intricacies of these real virtual spaces both from theoretical and personal perspectives. Special emphasis will be derived from the field of digital humanities in conjunction with diaspora study.

Part three reflects on the personal pronoun “I” as being seen through the accumulated lenses of a perpetual tourist. This section describes how people are vulnerable yet thankful of and resourceful because of this complex immigrant status, where they feel without roots precisely because these roots do not belong to any soil any longer. That is, when they return to visit their country of birth they act like (borderline) tourists; ironically, when they live in the adopted country, they act like tourists, too. The desire to migrate cognitively and emotionally on a daily basis gives these dislocated persons a kind of transparence and it may facilitate their acceptance as immigrants/exiles qua travellers.

Scholars who are interested in this volume should submit an abstract by May 15, 2015 at or

The proposal should be between 500 and 700 words and it should be accompanied by a short bio (100 words maximum). Furthermore, authors must indicate if their proposal will fit into part one, part two, or part three of the edited collection.