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Migrant Identities of «Creole Cosmopolitans»

Transcultural Narratives of Contemporary Postcoloniality

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Edited By Nirmala Menon and Marika Preziuso

One defining question links the essays of this collection: How do aesthetic and stylistic choices perform the condition of dislocation of the migrant and, in doing so, also put pressure on the seemingly global promise of cosmopolitanism? Migrant Identities of «Creole Cosmopolitans»: Transcultural Narratives of Contemporary Postcoloniality offers a wide array of narratives that complicate the rhetoric of cosmopolitanism and the related discourses of «hybridity». Many such narratives are under-theorized migrations, such as Dalit narratives from India and inter-island migrations in the Caribbean. Collectively, the essays suggest that there are ways in which the forms of the migrant aesthetics, language, and imaginaries may offer new insights in the interactions between practices and discourses of hybridity and cosmopolitanism by examining their precise points of intersection and divergence. This inquiry is especially timely because it raises questions about the circulation, marketing, and consumption of narratives of migration, dislocation, and «diaspora.»
In addition, the collection addresses in at least two significant ways the question about «beyond postcolonialism» and the future of the discipline. First, by questioning and critically examining some foundational theories in postcolonialism, it points to possible new directions in our theoretical vocabulary. Second, it offers an array of reflections around disparate geographies that are, equally importantly, written in different languages. The value that the authors place on languages other than English and their choice to focus on the effect that multiple languages have on the present of postcolonial studies are in line with one of the aims of the collection – to make the case for a multilingual expansion of the postcolonial imaginary as a necessary imperative.
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Chapter 1. The Migrant Text: Aimé Césaire’s Hemispheric Gambit and the Editorial Blind-Spot

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Aimé Césaire’s Hemispheric Gambit and the Editorial Blind-Spot

ALEX GIL

Texts are odd migrants. Like people, they often migrate by choice, often by force; they adapt to new environments and make new environments adapt to them; their shifting identities come from within and from without; they generate the sense of a home and the sense of a diaspora. Unlike humans (perhaps), the body of texts can become fragmented, and out of one can come many. Just as a text can migrate whole or in part across national lines, its parts can migrate internally in relationship to the same work. The writings of the Martinique author, anti-colonial writer, and politician Aimé Césaire are exemplary in this regard.

In the past couple of decades critics have been surprised time and again to find the existence of different versions of many of his major works. The most famous case is without a doubt the four major versions of the Cahier d’un retour au pays natal (The Notebook on a Return to the Native Land), but they are not the exception. Critics took very long to find out divergences in Césaire’s oeuvre because most versions of his works were published in different editorial environments, leading to what I call in this essay “editorial blind-spots.” In other words, a text published in New York was most likely invisible to an audience reading a different version of that text in Buenos Aires.

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