CFP ACLA 2019, Georgetown Univ. : Early Decolonials: Resistances and Rereadings of the Pre-modern and Early Modern

Check out our CFP for a proposed seminar at next year’s ACLA: Please share:

Organizer: Giovanna Montenegro
Co-Organizer: Jennifer Nelson

Amid a “decolonial turn,” we wonder: what value might its logics and heuristics bring to bear on cultural production on our planet before modernity?

In the last few decades, many scholars read the colonial against what seemed to be its opposite, the postcolonial. While subaltern studies appropriated the postcolonial to discuss the effects of modern society upon groups not recognized by larger society, many critics of the postcolonial focused on the temporality of the term. It was simply inappropriate to discuss a postcolonial turn in parts of both the industrialized and non-industrialized world that were living in semi-colonial situations.

Even more recently, the decolonial has emerged as a way to read resistance strategies against empire as well as against oppressive colonial borders, institutions, categorizations, and so on. In other words, these strategies emphasize methodologies from outside the institutions of empire. We can speak of a decolonial turn in critical thought: Silvia Rivera Cusiqanqui’s project that reclaims indigeneity politically; Qwo-Li Driskill’s weaving of Queer Studies and Native American thought through the “Two Spirit” model, insisting that resisting misogyny, homophobia, racism along with colonialism are part of the decolonial option; Raymond Craib’s analysis of decolonial maps against a cartographic tradition whose aims have been to reinforce imperialism and colonialism––these are all debates on how multiple discourses and peoples resist coloniality in their specific contexts. One particular inspiration for our panel is parallel efforts in medieval studies, led by the BABEL working group and others, to combat white supremacist mobilization of medievalist history and scholarship.

This panel seeks to bring these debates and discourses to bear on case studies or discourses from time periods prior to the nineteenth century. Whereas historians like Arif Dirlik have criticized the idea of a “postcolonial pre-modern,” this panel, by contrast, assumes that coloniality relies upon conceptual extension of colonial frameworks into the deeper past, and that resistance to this extension is urgent and necessary. For example, what is the best way for scholars to resist white supremacist use of the repulsion of the Ottoman siege of Vienna in 1683 to advocate the expulsion of Muslim refugees from Austria and the rest of the EU today?

This ACLA seminar aims to respond to the decolonial option by rereading the resistances present in pre-modern and/or early modern textual and visual culture anywhere on the planet. How do we approach literature, images, and objects with non-linear histories through old and new methodologies? Can we speak of decolonials in the pre-modern era?

Please submit abstracts via the ACLA website before September 20 (early submissions are encouraged). Keep in mind that the ACLA’s submission portal allows for an abstract to contain as many as 1500 characters (spaces included).

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