Volume 2, Issue 1, November 2009

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Letter from the Guest Editor

Welcome to 'Literary Migrations', a special issue of Transnational Literature. Although we are well past the heyday of literary and cultural theory, frameworks such as post-colonial studies still have enormous explanatory and analytical power when applied to contemporary problems, issues and debates. Ania Loomba and colleagues have demonstrated that 'even though we may be considered to be beyond postcolonial studies, an understanding of the origins of the field is necessary for exploring this moment of doubt, renewal and expansion for postcolonial studies'. This is certainly true in studies of literature from formerly colonised (and colonising) spaces.

This relevance of theory to practice was clearly evident in the Moving Cultures, Shifting Identities conference, held at Flinders University on 3-5 December, 2007. Delegates to this conference will have warm memories of hundreds of people attending lively and engaging sessions, many of which utilised or engaged directly with post-colonial perspectives. Since many of the papers presented at this conference have been published in a variety of outlets (including a special issue of FULGOR), it was natural that Transnational Literature act as a home for papers which pertain so directly to the journal's themes.

Despite these thematic similarities, the papers in this issue reflect the diversity of the global cultural landscape. On the one hand we have an exploration of hybrid cultural identity through the new poetry of Macau, and on the other an analysis of the reception and (re-)interpretation of foundational Conquest narratives in Latin America. Post-colonial analyses of novels traverse Singapore and India (J.G. Farrell and Amitav Ghosh) as well as the United States and Japan (Don DeLillo and Haruki Murakami). We are also privileged to read transformations of genre as two authors combine scholarly cultural analysis with creative non-fiction in telling the story of a migrant family in Australia, and the history and cultural memory of the Jewish diaspora in South Africa.

Continuing in this vein of progressive academic publishing, this issue has several pieces of creative non-fiction as well as stories and poems which relate to the special issue's themes. Continuing the strong tradition of publishing reviews which goes back to the CRNLE Reviews Journal, there are many reviews which pertain to the issue's themes, as well as more general reviews. Finally we have the sad duty of publishing a tribute to the late Meenakshi Mukherjee, a member of the journal's editorial board.

In having the honour of guest editing this issue of the journal, there are several people I need to thank. First and foremost I would like to thanks the authors of the articles and other pieces, whose hard work and commitment to the project made it possible at all. Similarly, the peer reviewers provided excellent feedback and quality control, and made the issue the best it could be. Thanks also to Lyn Leader-Elliot for her monumental efforts in making the original conference such a success (and for supporting the launch); thanks to Gillian Dooley for helping me along the process (especially uploading the final articles) and for organising all the non-refereed pieces; to Rebecca Vaughan for lending her keen eye to copy-editing, and to Lisa Bennett for designing a characteristically artistic flyer for the launch. Finally, thanks to you, the reader, for taking the time to sample what the issue has to offer: we believe you will be richly rewarded.

Chad Habel, November, 2009

Click here for Contents page and editor's letter in PDF format

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    Editor's note and contents page for Volume 2, no. 1, November 2009
    (2009-11) Transnational Literature
    Editor's note and contents page for Volume 2, no. 1, November 2009 of Transnational Literature
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    Contributors to Volume 2, No. 1, November 2009
    (2009-11-09T00:20:16Z)
    List of contributors to Transnational Literature, Volume 2, no. 1, November 2009.
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    A Tribute to Meenakshi Mukherjee
    (2009-11-09T00:17:46Z) Khair, Tabish; Dwivedi, A N; Dhawan, R K
    Tribute to Professor Meenakshi Mukherjee, member of Transnational Literature's Advisory Board, who died in September 2009.
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    Last Days of Empire: DeLillo’s America and Murakami’s Japan
    (2009-11-06T11:57:53Z) Palmer, David
    Don DeLillo’s Underworld and Haruki Murakami’s The Windup Bird Chronicle anticipated in a literary way the public debate over the existence of contemporary empire in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States and subsequent wars. However, these novels focus on individual experiences and specific cultural aspects of their respective economic superpowers, America and Japan, and are not explicitly political or ideological. Both novels use the history of war in the modern era as a source of memory for individuals in the novels, including memory objects, linking these individuals to specific people in the past. Historical experiences and present experiences of these people are connected through a range of related themes. These include “internal” and “external” wars and violence, with the imagery of games and war as interchangeable; nationally specific religion, superstition, and folk beliefs intersecting with contemporary electronic “magic” such as the internet; and empires past and present that are in an advanced state of decay, abroad through the legacy of lost wars and domestically in the urban “underworld” (DeLillo) / “shadow world” (Murakami) of the two nations’ megacities: New York and Tokyo.
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    Diasporic Dispersals and Convergences: The Creative Trajectory of a PhD Project
    (2009-11-06T02:30:34Z) Khorana, Sukhmani
    My critical-creative PhD project on diasporic creative practice began as a textual analysis dissertation with a video-recorded reception studies component, but it has become more than a hybrid research discourse. Its creative and fluid trajectories are not unlike the dispersals and convergences of diasporic identity and cultural production itself. These trajectories are mapped here with an exegetical section, followed by an edited selection of web-log entries and poetic fragments written during the various production stages of the creative component.
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    The UnAustralian Condition: An Essay In Four Parts
    (2009-11-06T02:30:29Z) Pavlides, Eleni
    It was in the 1990s, following a flurry of the use of the expression ‘un-Australian’ by politicians, that the Macquarie Dictionary first included a definition of the term. In 2006, whilst conducting a review of the Hansard records going back 20 years, Professor Klaus Neumann found that politicians in the Senate and the House of Reps had used the term 600 times . Within the Australian parliament the term was used to describe anything from rental cars to socialism, to the imposition of import duties for agricultural equipment. So what does the term mean? In its earliest use from the mid 1850s onwards, ‘un-Australian’ was used in positive sense to describe the things that were akin to the British motherland and unlike the host country. In the 1990s, academic Joe Pugliese saw the use of the term as marking a profound anxiety about Australian identity and as signalling Australia’s failure to come to terms with its history . Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard invoked the word ‘un-Australian’ to great effect. In 2004, 28.2 per cent of the mentions of the word in major metropolitan newspapers were attributed to him by Media Monitor. Re elected to office four times, Howard took Australians into the new millennium by reinvigorating a homogeneous and one dimensional Australian identity forever indebted to its British origins. From the mid 1990’s, until the mid 2000s Australians failed to move beyond a state of mind that made a national identity contingent on the pre-eminence of the British diaspora. Thus, in this paper I argue that the constant anxiety about national identity for Australians links directly to the unresolved questions which surround diasporic belonging. I suggest that Australian national identity is condemned to oscillate uncertainly between the two terms – ‘parvenu’ or ‘pariah’– until new ways of national belonging are defined and accepted by Australians a new transnational era.
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    hybrid talk in mongrel town – questions of identity in the cross-cultural space of the new Macao poetry
    (2009-11-06T02:22:37Z) Kelen, Christopher
    Macao is a place of plural identities; or it will be more nuanced to say that identity in Macao is dynamic, layered, often paradoxical – for instance, at once cosmopolitan and parochial. Identity, for the poet, is gleaned from an historicized knowledge of position. Among the key themes of contemporary Macao poetry, chance and luck loom large, along with their figuration in Macao life through sites such as casinos and temples, through personae such as those of the gambler, the beggar, the prostitute. Macao as dot-on-the-map is likewise conceived as a site for all kinds of portal semiotics, as paradigm for cultural crossing and cultural shift. In the identity of the Macanese we find conditions emblematic of Macao’s situation more generally. Here – however the soul is unified or split – the body is of two places. The poet’s identity is something beyond what is circumscribed in national or local devotions. A poetic sense of place-based identity depends in some degree on the poet’s reflexive awareness of him/herself as a poet and of the work (and play) of making poetry. It depends, that is to say, on a consciousness of tradition/s and of breaks from tradition/s. That consciousness points to the infinite task in which every poet engages when s/he sees herself as participating in a tradition or a community; when s/he acknowledges that is, that words are from somewhere and that words have a destination.
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    Bernal Díaz del Castillo and the Reimagining of Colonial Mythologies
    (2009-11-05T04:46:43Z) Hanley, Jane
    This article explores the role of stories of encounter as sites for post-colonial redefinitions of the meaning of the colonial past. Such stories become the centrepieces of subsequent debate about the relationships between different cultural groups. Hernán Cortés's meeting with Motecuzoma Xocoyotl is arguably the premier example of a historical circumstance which has been transformed into an overarching metaphor of contact and colonisation between European and American peoples. Bernal Díaz's Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España [Conquest of New Spain] was an early and significant contribution to turning this specific meeting into a story and thus transforming individuals into narrativised, mythic figures whose identities are battlegrounds for the cultural meaning of the colonial encounter. Díaz explicitly positions himself as a reteller who responds to previous stories by tellers with higher social status and different stakes in how the encounter was represented. As such, the Historia verdadera occupies a key position among the few enormously influential primary sources describing the event. Just as Díaz wrote in response to other texts in order to reframe the moment of encounter, later accounts recontextualise and even reject elements of Díaz's version of events in attempts to represent the identities of participants differently. Colonial-era readings support the imperial project as well as the religious mission, while later interpretations emphasise different characteristics of the story. This intertextual proliferation transforms a single historical relationship into a foundation myth for understandings of European American encounters.
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    Imaginary Pasts: Colonisation, Migration and Loss in J.G. Farrell’s 'The Singapore Grip' and in Amitav Ghosh’s 'The Glass Palace'
    (2009-11-05T04:39:07Z) Prusse, Michael C.
    A quotation from each of the two novels that form the background for this paper will immediately establish why these narratives are pertinent to the central theme of the ‘Moving Cultures, Shifting Identities Conference’ that took place at Flinders University in Adelaide early in December 2007. In both texts the theme of migration in the context of imperialism plays a central role and, moreover, both clearly spell out what tremendous impact moving between and across cultures has on the lives of people, who are thoroughly affected and marked by such encounters. Matthew Webb, one of the protagonists of J.G. Farrell’s The Singapore Grip (1978), renders his perception of the phenomenon of migration in the wake of imperial expansion as follows: ‘One of the most astounding things about our Empire … is the way we’ve transported vast populations across the globe as cheap labour’. Matthew, a critical observer of British imperialism but still a member of colonial society and a British citizen, thus provides the reader with an insight regarding the economic motivation behind such enforced movements of people.
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    Shaping the Jewish South African Story: Imprints of Memories, Shadows and Silences
    (2009-11-05T04:04:26Z) Sakinofsky, Phyllis
    Storytelling is the thread connecting history, memory and imagination, piecing together alternate truths, unravelling forgotten memories, and making meaning for the teller and her audience. This paper examines the relationship between theory, history and imagination and their combined influence on this writer’s work of fiction. I was born into the South African Jewish community, a homogenous group that migrated from Lithuania around the turn of the twentieth century to seek an alternative to growing antisemitism and poverty, only to find themselves enmeshed in another form of oppression – apartheid – but this time embedded on the side of the oppressor. Antisemitism, the Holocaust, and apartheid permeated the psyche of all Jews in South Africa, and yet the imprints of shadows and silences exhibited themselves in contrasting responses to oppression – ranging from those who supported and benefited from apartheid to opponents and activists who fought the system from within and without. This article is the based on the unexpected outcomes of my PhD which comprised two components: a novel and accompanying dissertation. What I found was that the two streams – creative and academic – fed and nurtured one another to bring to the surface stories that had been generated by academic reading, personal, collective and submerged memories of a diasporic community, and imagination.
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    Review of 'How to Write History that People Want to Read' by Ann Curthoys and Ann McGrath and 'Writing Histories' ed. Ann Curthoys and Ann McGrath.
    (2009-11-04T06:13:16Z) Sutherland, Emily
    Review of 'How to Write History that People Want to Read' by Ann Curthoys and Ann McGrath and 'Writing Histories' edited by Ann Curthoys and Ann McGrath.
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    Lucca
    (2009-11-02T01:13:08Z) O'Flynn, Mark
    A poem by Mark O'Flynn.
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    Review of 'Writing the Nation' by Cynthia vanden Driesen.
    (2009-11-02T00:49:45Z) Rey, Jo Anne
    Review of 'Writing the Nation: Patrick White and the Indigene' by Cynthia vanden Driesen.
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    Review of 'Words from Table One' ed. Charles Gent and Alex Hope.
    (2009-11-02T00:48:09Z) Savvas, Michael Xenophon
    Review of 'Words from Table One...: A compendium of creative writing irreverence' edited by Charles Gent and Alex Hope.
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    Review of 'Brother, I'm Dying' by Edwidge Danticat.
    (2009-11-02T00:46:00Z) MacLeod, Denise
    Review of Edwidge Danticat's memoir 'Brother, I'm Dying'.
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    Review of 'Fatherhood' by Adeeb Kamal Ad-Deen.
    (2009-11-02T00:43:27Z) Smith, Anne-Marie
    Review of 'Fatherhood', poetry by Iraqi-Australian poet Adeeb Kamal Ad-Deen.
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    Review of 'This is how' by M.J. Hyland.
    (2009-10-31T13:52:31Z) Lumsden, Robert
    Review of M.J. Hyland's novel 'This is how'.
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    Review of 'The Salati Case' by Tobias Jones.
    (2009-10-31T13:52:20Z) Kooyman, Benjamin
    Review of 'The Salati Case' by Tobias Jones.
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    Review of 'Readings from the Little Yellow Book' by Charles Crompton (Shaggy Doo Beats).
    (2009-10-31T13:52:10Z) Zott, Debra
    Review of 'Readings from the Little Yellow Book' by Charles Crompton, alias 'Shaggy Doo Beats'.
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    Review of 'Re-Thinking Europe' ed. Nele Bemong, Mirjam Truwan and Pieter Vermeulen.
    (2009-10-31T13:40:54Z) Haque, Md Rezaul
    Review of 'Re-Thinking Europe: Literature and (Trans) National Identity' ed. Nele Bemong, Mirjam Truwan and Pieter Vermeulen.