British Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies Conference, Savannah GA 2020

Thought I’d get some writing finished, considering we’re all going to be quarantined for the foreseeable! At least it’ll help the productivity!

I presented my research in February at the 29th British Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies conference at the DeSoto hotel in Savannah, GA, organised by the Postcolonial Literature department at Georgia State University. The conference was presented over two days, my panel Postcolonial Ireland was on day one. A link to my presentation is here.

On day one, the first panel I attended was Postcolonial Collective Traumas which looked at collective traumas in a literary sense through the lens of post-colonialism and looking at grief as analogous to slavery. The overall arc of this panel was to show that trauma transpires from the individual to the collective and that the legacy of slavery is still embedded in the collective experience. There were a couple of authors mentioned that I definitely need to check out, among them Roger Lockhurst, Lacapra and John Peterson. My second panel on day one was Cross-cultural and Cross-Genre Approaches which looked at postcolonial literature set in and around India and the Indian experience. The third panel of day one was my one; Postcolonial Ireland. I was on this panel alongside E. Moore Quinn and Rebecca Ziegler. Moore spoke about seasonal migration from Ireland to England by women and Rebecca spoke about postcolonial perspectives of the historical Jesus. I was asked a really interesting question after my talk about the link between nostalgia and trauma, which I definitely need to do some more research into. The last panel of day one I went to was Women Confronting Empire: Nature, Bodies, Food. This panel looked at situated versus un-situated knowledge and transnational diasporas, “diaspora that destabilizes national identities” (Goya), the concept of the Americanah as Chimanda Nigozi Adhiche defined it and migratory subjectivity (Carole Boyce Davis). Identity is a political process and experience and is not formed within one specific locale. The last talk of day one was a keynote by postcolonial author and academic Robert JC Young. Young’s talk was primarily on his work on the historical roots of hybridity as it pertains to the colonised subject and the postcolonial outsider. He spoke about plural linguism, Said’s critique of the euro-centrist depiction of the east and language as a construct of the colonial project. This talk will definitely be useful for my thesis research as I am looking at hybridity in the postcolonial subject.

Day two began with a workshop on Narrative, Pedagogy and Literature. This workshop was on data analysis and using various tools for pedagogic learning and teaching. This was super useful to see the different was researchers analysed their data and to also see teaching methods in academia. The second workshop of the day was The New Imperial Neo-liberalism:Media, Policy and New Avenues in Postcolonial Research; An Interactive Workshop on Integrating New Media into Your Research. This workshop started with the participants being asked to write three sentences about what their research is, which helped me to focus down my ideas a lot. Chris Cartwright from Georgia Southern University who was giving the workshop says that postcolonial research must be accessible, multi-textual, intersectional and socially engaged; which is something I definitely agree with. New media used in research is participatory, fragmented (the same story retold) and converging. Chris used to the example of King Solomon’s Mines from 1885 to illustrate that research texts in this vein must have characters, stories (events), settings (place), themes (ideas) and aesthetics (discourses). He used a lot of literary text examples, among them Treasure Island, The Rhodes Colossus and Heart of Darkness. The last panel of the second day (and the last one I went to) was Imperial Ideologies in 20th Century British Literature. This panel looked at postcolonial themes in British literary texts and liberal humanism versus capitalist and imperialist modernity. Colonial trauma was referenced throughout the panel and Cesaire’s discourses on colonialism were mentioned by all three panelists. Carol Dell’Amico spoke about Jean Rhys and wartime ethnography in the late modernist project. She also spoke about how Greenwich Mean Time was a form of colonial oppression; how the colonised being is a divided one; the two parts of the colonised individual: desiring to be a white man and being separated from his community; how the newly liberated slaves sometimes gained psychosis and how in the colonial situation, everyone is a slave (in the Hegelian master/slave dialectic sense). She also points out that violence against the settler is the native’s work, the native is the agent of change and freedom is only achieved through capital.

All in all a very productive and fruitful three days. (Day three was spent wandering around Savannah and then Uber-ing to the airport)




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