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Migrant Identities of «Creole Cosmopolitans»

Transcultural Narratives of Contemporary Postcoloniality


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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Nirmala Menon and Marika Preziuso

The idea for this collection came from the wonderful format of the ACLA (American Comparative Literature Association) 2010 conference seminar over three days of enriching and delightful discussions on Cosmopolitanism. One clear outcome was an understanding of the numerous divergences of narratives of cosmopolitanism and hybridity rather than a convergence of thoughts on the concept of cosmopolitanism. Indeed, many of the contributors to this collection further enrich and enhance debates and arguments about the conceptual links and common ground between the “migrant,” the “cosmopolitan” and/or the “hybrid” in postcolonial studies.

The “migrant” has been represented through various avatars, both in critical theory and in creative writing, visual arts and performance; among others, it has been read through the rhetoric of the marginalized, the nostalgic, and the ghettoized. Whereas the migrant has been regularly expressed via these means, their sum total does not exhaust the complex and contesting identities of immigrant populations. Similarly, the notion of “cosmopolitanism” has also been subject to debate within postcolonial studies. The word cosmopolitanism, derived from the Greek word meaning “citizen of the world,” has been used loosely for people who can exist and function comfortably within different cultures. Scholars have often used the word as antithetical to nationalist drives that espouse identification with a single culture or place, wherein the nation is viewed as the conventional and exclusive socio-cultural unit of reference. In this respect, cosmopolitanism fitted ← vii | viii → the narrative of crossing borders and continents....

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