Welcome to the May 2016 issue of Transnational Literature. We complete our eighth year with a rich and diverse issue, drawn from sixteen countries and six continents. We haven't yet published anything from Antarctica but we would love to hear from you if that's where you live!
The scope of the articles is as diverse as their origins, although all touch on the theme of identity in one form or another. Pablo Chiuminatto and Ana Cortés discuss the cultural dislocations inherent in early European visits to Patagonia, while Laila EL-Mahgary looks behind the fairy-tale scenario of a tourist resort in Egypt to meet the musicians who provide the entertainment. Per Henningsgaard takes up a question of publication history and representation with his analysis of four Indigenous novels of Australia and New Zealand. Elena Stoican considers narratives written by Romanian emigrées. Adnan Mahmutovic, Daniela Vitolo and Carmen Zamorana Llena each take the work of a particular author – Mohsin Hamid, Kamila Shamsie and Hari Kunzru respectively – to discuss citizenship and identity in a range of transnational contexts.
Margaret Baker has kindly allowed us to publish the speech she gave at the recent launch of a book discussing the perhaps unexpected links between Scotland and Sicily.
We have two poets in translation in this issue, Hamza Chafii from Morocco and Ivan de Monbrison from France, and I would like to thank Md Rezaul Haque for his expert curation of the translation section.
Our poetry editor, Heather Taylor Johnson, has made a selection of nine poems for this issue. She tells me this is the most interesting batch of poems she's edited since she's been with us. There are six pieces of prose creative writing – stories and memoirs about crossing cultural borders and the power of words and reading, edited by our creative and life writing editor Ruth Starke with the assistance of Molly Murn.
This will be the last issue in which Patrick Allington will act as Book Reviews Editor. He has included twelve reviews of a broad range of books (and one periodical) of interest to our readers. I would like to thank him for taking on this role so efficiently in tandem with a very busy working life over the past few issues. I will take on responsibility for the book reviews for the time being.
I would also like to thank my deputy editors, Emily Sutherland and Paul Ardoin, on whose expert advice I depend during the peer reviewing process for articles. Michael Lee Gardin also helped with editing some of the articles in this issue. My colleagues at Flinders University, Grant Jackson and Joy Tennant, both provide invaluable support in getting the issue published.
And of course, as always, there are those whom I may not name, the many scholars who provide anonymous peer reviews for the papers submitted to the journal. Thanks to all of you for your helpful and collegial contributions to the world of transnational literature.
The current context of globalisation is often characterised by its transformative effects on traditional definitions of place and culture, especially in relation to the concept of the nation state and its role in structuring modern understandings of individual and collective belonging. In opposition to a bounded, reactionary notion of place, associated with a given, self-contained, local cultural community, human geographers have proposed a progressive “global sense of place” (Massey 1991), characterised by its unboundedness, and understood as “the location of the intersections of particular bundles of activity spaces, of connections and interrelations, of influences and movements” that link it to the wider world (Massey 1995: 59). This relational global sense of place informs sociologist Ulrich Beck’s conceptualisation of place from a cosmopolitan perspective, according to which national societies are transformed by a process of “internal cosmopolitanisation” (2004: 9) in which place becomes “the locus of encounters and interminglings or, alternatively, of anonymous coexistence and the overlapping of possible worlds and global dangers” (2004: 10). In this sense, the main aim of this paper is to analyse how British Indian writer Hari Kunzru’s Gods Without Men (2011) subverts, both thematically and in terms of narrative structure, a bounded notion of place from a “cosmopolitan outlook” (Beck 2004: 2). It is my contention that in the novel the location of the Pinnacles in the Mojave Desert, California, acts as a symbolic locus where the different stories that compose the narrative whole crisscross to outline a new topography of collective belonging. By historicising and re-examining from a current transnational viewpoint traditional understandings of the sense of place, with special attention to the inextricably interrelated concept of spirituality, Kunzru provides a cosmopolitanised narrative of America, which underscores the complexity and relationality of experience.
The paper discusses the processes of identity construction enacted by the main character in the novel Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie focusing on the performative relationship existing between agency and identity. The aim is to explore the ways in which the author portrays the relationship between relevant political facts and the dynamics of identity formation. Such events can indeed become a driving force to enact a process of identity formation that questions certain social conventions. In the novel historical events become a drive to agency and thus to the performative construction of the self. Such a construction process brings the protagonist of Shamsie’s novel to develop a position highly critical of nationalisms and nationalistic policies and to embrace the idea of possible transnational solidarities.
In this paper, I use the established readings of Mohsin Hamid’s novel The Reluctant Fundamentalistas a political allegory of contemporary international relations to formulate an inquiry into the notion of citizenship. Taking my cue from Aihwa Ong’s work on “flexible citizenship,” which stresses the way global capital calls for disrespect of national borders and laws, I look at the way Hamid’s novelistic imagination problematises the conflict between economic, political, and social citizenships and how it looks forward to the emergence of a new understandings of citizenship as something defined in terms of global rights and duties.
The present paper analyses recent Romanian accounts of women's uprooting from a communist regime, foregrounding manners in which the migrants' transnational itineraries are punctuated by instances of groundedness that temporary anchor the protagonists in their translocal settings. More specifically, the article discusses the segmented itineraries of women migrants from Romania via different European countries to their final destination, the United States. I have chosen the syntagm "accounts of uprooting" instead of "migration literature", as the primary corpus of this analysis is made up of different literary genres: a novel, Train to Trieste by Domnica Radulescu and a memoir, The Gypsy Saw Two Lives, by Rodica Mihalis. The analysis of these creations introduces a comparative perspective on the shaping of translocal perceptions in the context of transnational migration. Consequently, the body of the paper investigates the migrant characters' relation to the European spaces where they settle before preparing their relocation to the USA. By adopting this approach, the discussion blends the axes of embeddedness and disembeddedness in order to provide a more comprehensive account of the intersections between gender and migration placed in a transnational context. Therefore, the discussion considers both the transgressive, fluid connotations of transnational processes and the individuals' need for stable structures despite their discontinuous itineraries.
This article examines four novels written since 1980 by two Aboriginal Australian authors and two Maori authors. Two of the four novels were written near the beginning of this period and feature settings that are contemporary with their publication; The Day of the Dog by Aboriginal Australian author Archie Weller was published in 1981, while Once Were Warriors by Maori author Alan Duff was published in 1990. The other two novels (That Deadman Dance by Aboriginal Australian author Kim Scott and The Trowenna Sea by Maori author Witi Ihimaera) are works of historical fiction written in the last decade. The shift in tone between the earlier novels and the more recent novels is particularly remarkable. Coupled with the shift in tone, the settings have changed. It is tempting to ascribe the shifts in tone and setting over this 30-year period to the changing social and political realities surrounding the issue of indigenous relations in the two nations. And these factors undoubtedly played an important role in the aforementioned shifts; indigenous authors writing today are responding to a different social and political reality compared to indigenous authors writing in the 1980s and early 1990s. What this explanation overlooks, however, are the concurrent changes in the publication of indigenous literature and how these might contribute to the types of changes noted above. Indigenous writers are now writing for an international literary marketplace. This article makes it clear that there are significant implications to the shift from indigenous literature being published by small to medium-sized local publishing houses, to indigenous literature being published by the local arm of a multinational conglomerate.
This article introduces a multidisciplinary study in which the different fields of musicology, social sciences and children’s ‘fairytale’ literature blend together. The interest in this topic came from a lack of attention in past studies on the art-peripheral performers’ and audiences’ experiences with the more popular form of entertainment in art-peripheral tourist settings. Another fundamental purpose for this research is to explore the important role of the art-peripheral ‘fairytale’ settings in transforming the different groups of hosts’ and guests’ everyday rational characters and performances, as they transgress from their cultural norms, and move through the liminal spaces of the sea. Consequently, new identities in Hurghada’s hotels’ fairytale scenes are being formed, and which are the outcome of localized and western, cultural, political, economic, and social constructions. The empirical method in this study puts emphasis on the texts of classical fairytale stories, which are used as an architextual model developed in the course of earlier research undertaken by the author. It is also well worth mentioning, that Hurghada’s art-peripheral hotel settings generate cultural tourism from the simple consumption of entertainment and popular music.
By the end of the nineteenth century, as global voyages became popular, and transcontinental empires settled, remote corners of the third world such as Patagonia began to be explored and became the subject of European travel literatures. The opening of this region to the global scenario produced profound transformations in its territorial conformation, poetic imaginary, and local culture. As Patagonia became a land of travellers, local nomads which had inhabited this land for centuries became extinguished. The historical context of this re-shaping is conceptualised in literary theory through notions such as nomadism, elaborated by Gilles Deleuze and its aesthetical counterpart, geo-poetics, by Kenneth White. The travel literature about Patagonia, such as that produced by Charles Darwin, Lady Florence Dixie, and Bruce Chatwin, depicts the difficulties these travellers faced in trying to endow their writings of adequate descriptions and images. Instead, they recurred to images from their homeland, and thus created an imaginary of Patagonia through displacement: their own, and that of images brought by themselves to this land. When Chilean poets like Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda begun to write about Patagonia, they found it already populated by strange images, shaped indeed, by nomads, travellers and dis-located identities.