Special issue: Intersections of Postcolonial studies and Indigenous studies

CFP: Special issue of Ariel: a Review of International English Literatureslated for publication in 2020
Due dates: 250-word abstracts due August 1, 2018; final articles due January 15, 2019.

Call for Papers

This special 50th anniversary issue of Ariel: a Review of International English Literature,  will unpack the tensions and interrelationships between postcolonial studies and Indigenous studies. When Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin published The Empire Writes Back (1989), the ensuing recognition of Canada and the United States as products of imperialism and colonization necessarily provoked questions about the people who preceded settlers. Indigenous literary studies became recognized as a necessary missing piece of those conversations. However, the vocabulary and approaches of postcolonial theory often failed to address–or even obstructed–questions that Indigenous literary scholars, particularly those with community obligations, needed to consider. Ariel’s 50th Anniversary Issue is an opportunity to reconsider the trajectory of discussions among Indigenous and postcolonial studies scholars and practitioners. At this historical juncture of increased visibility of issues concerning Indigenous rights, migration, displacement, and global imperialism among other pressing urgencies, now is the moment to return to these debates and recast the dialogue.

In imagining new ways of understanding the conversations about the past, present, and future of these disciplines–both separately and together–the issue’s special editors seek to open the conversation to emerging, as well as more established scholars of postcolonial and Indigenous studies, in part by curating interviews between junior and senior scholars across the two disciplines. Where possible, these conversations will take place at a workshop, which will include a keynote, roundtables, on-stage interviews, and large group discussions on November 10, 2018, in Vancouver, in order to more organically bring practitioners from these two disciplines into actual as well as textual conversations.

Questions to be addressed could include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • How have the vocabulary and approaches of postcolonial theory often failed to address–or even obstructed–questions that Indigenous literary scholars needed to consider? Why has postcolonial theory sometimes resisted the insights of Indigenous scholarship? How might contemporary scholars move beyond these disagreements to integrate postcolonial and Indigenous theories? What are the benefits and costs of doing so?
  • What are the protocols of positioning and the relevance of relationship and credentials to theoretical approaches?
  • Indigenous studies considers foundational ideas encoded in traditional ways of knowing. How can it also acknowledge the role of texts written in English by nineteenth-century Indigenous Christian converts, theories coming out of the mid-twentieth century Red Power Movement, the emergence of postcolonial theory, and the contributions by twenty-first century Indigenous writers who are dislocated from home lands and communities?
  • To what extent do the labels “settler” and “Indigenous” name an important distinction, and to what extent does this duality overlook other histories, such as Black history, and the severe threats that “settlers” have represented (and continue to represent) to Black people?
  • If uninvited guests are implicated in the ongoing occupation of Indigenous lands, how might we think through the ways in which minority communities, displaced peoples, migrant labourers, and other groups, are themselves subjected to occupation, containment, displacement, and forgetting?
  • How might postcolonial scholars address, challenge, or engage with increasingly hostile attitudes toward immigrant and displaced communities (e.g., U.S. limits on undocumented citizenship status and refugee program reductions)? How might this conversation correlate with Indigenous experiences of homelessness and dispossession?
  • How might we build viable critical frameworks that compare shared histories of oppression and resistance without eliding their significant differences? What types of imagined futures might such historical considerations presage?
  • How might discussions of the Indigenous category of Two-Spirit and Cherokee scholar Qwo-Li Driskill’s concept of “the Sovereign Erotic” interact with postcolonial questions of queer, trans*/cis, and gender expression?
  • What are new ways of considering–or definitions for discussing–national autonomy and belonging, and of renewed interrogation of tightening systems of power and hegemony?
  • What ways do efforts on the part of Indigenous communities to protect their lands and waters (e.g., Standing Rock in Dakota, or Unis’tot’en camp in British Columbia), act as spaces for community building, allyship, and mentorship?
  • What might be gained by considering the politics of combatting contemporary economic forms of neocolonialism in relation to the politics of combatting enduring Indigenous territorial colonialism?

Interested contributors should send a 250-word abstract and short cv to Michelle Brown (Shenandoah University), Deanna Reder (Simon Fraser University), and Sophie McCall (Simon Fraser University) at 50thanniversaryofariel@gmail.com by August 1, 2018. Accepted articles will be submitted directly to ariel@ucalgary.ca. Publication is slated for April 2020 with final articles due January 15, 2019.

Above adapted from emailed announcement.

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