ENMC 4500-002: Oceanic Connections: Indian Ocean and Black Atlantic Worlds
If the ‘Sea is History,’ as the Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott famously declared, the ocean is an archive. The ocean has emerged as an exciting new frontier in contemporary global and transnational approaches to literary studies. This course will introduce students to this emergent paradigm. Specifically, it will trace connections across Indian Ocean and Black Atlantic worlds through the contemporary novels of Amitav Ghosh, Abdul Razak Gurnah, Barry Unsworth, and the creative non-fiction of Paul Gilroy. The course will also include excerpts from works by Edouard Glissant, the famous exponent of Caribbean Creolite, and from an anthology of black narratives that emerged during the transatlantic slave trade.
We will study the interconnectedness of the Atlantic slave trade and the movement of labor on Indian Ocean trade routes, and the consequent entanglement of the literatures of slavery and indenture. The Atlantic has featured as a major paradigm in the humanities since the publication of Paul Gilroy’s The Black Atlantic. The making of Euro-America on the back of the slave trade provides a powerful and sobering counterpoint to the triumphant theatricality of Franco-British maritime domination in the same era, while simultaneously connecting literary discourses and literary themes previously understood as territorially and culturally distinct. Atlantic Studies has revolutionized the way we study the emergence of modern French, British and American literatures today.
An equally resonant oceanic world – the Indian Ocean – lay at the heart of European maritime expansion from Africa to the Middle East and Asia, a world that Amitav Ghosh’s Ibis novels bring powerfully into view. Through his novels we will trace lives across the opium trade route between British India and Southern China, and study the importance of the Indian Ocean in the making of capitalist modernity. Gurnah’s novels will allow us to explore transoceanic connections across East Africa, West Asia, India and England. Lives in Zanzibar, the famous Indian Ocean port, are at the heart of his novels.
ENMC 8500: The Refugee
This graduate seminar will explore how refugees have portrayed themselves and have been portrayed in literature, memoir, testimony, film, and art. Mindful of the current political crisis over refugees, we will focus mainly on the post-45 years and contextualize our study of refugee art by reading widely from law, political and globalization theory, border studies, anthropology, history, and policy. The 1951 Refugee convention adopts a human-rights framework for extending rights to those forced to migrate from the country of their nationality for fear of persecution. Tensions arise when the right of refugees ‘to seek and enjoy asylum’ conferred by the UN is confronted by the lack of obligation felt by particular nation-states to receive them. As a consequence, the political discourse over refugees is often framed in terms citizenship, host state policies, legal bans, rights, humanitarianism, aid, lack of agency, border security, disasters, war, and strife. Further, a whole new lexicon distinguishing refugees, asylum seekers, migrants, and aliens describe displaced persons with varied legal and political nuance. In our study we will attempt to parse these differences to gauge their significance within contemporary refugee regimes.
Becoming stateless, however, entails seeking refuge elsewhere and this is more than a legal and political problem. In so doing, the refugee often becomes a limit case for ideas about hospitality, sympathy, sharing, compassion, estrangement, and notions of cultural bearing. How, we will ask, do artistic representations of refugees mediate the personal, social, psychological and material terrain of forced migration given the rights-based legal framing that exists? Our study will take certain mass displacements as flashpoints—Jewish and Palestinian displacements, the Partition of India, decolonial wars in Africa (Algeria, Biafra, Mozambique), Vietnam, and Syria—to see how the refugee experience is given depth through artistic engagements. We will consider how the experience of being in camps, journeying across borders, homelessness, dispossession, familial loss, and trauma shapes the precarious condition of refugees. Our goal will be to appraise whether and how aesthetic attempts to capture the condition of refugees respond to and at times revise political discourses about those in exile.
Our reading list may include work by Hannah Arendt, Primo Levi, Giorgio Agamben, Edward Said, Gloria Anzaldua, Liisa Malki, Joseph Massaad, W.G. Sebald, Mahmoud Darwish, Elias Khoury, Caryl Phillips, Sadaat Manto, Ghassan Kanafani, Chimamanda Adichie, Viet Nguyen, Assia Djebar, among others.
HIAF 4511: AFRICA AND THE GLOBAL SOUTH
This colloquium will offer an introduction to the themes, regions, and debates surrounding Africa and the Global South. Topics include the idea of Africa, the place of the African diaspora, and the causes of economic underdevelopment and political violence, as well as discussing the reasons behind recent cases of rapid growth and political stability. This course is interdiscplinary and will be taught in the Global South Humanities Laboratory. Students will have the option of participating in a digital humanities final project.
HIST 4501: GLOBAL CAPITALISM SINCE 1750
In this course, we both explore the history of modern capitalism and chart the emergence of a discipline of economics – one that distinguished itself from classical political economy in its methodologies and concerns, and that was deeply embedded in the changing commercial and industrial world into which it was born. At the same time, we map the circulation of these new ideas (and their critiques) around the globe.
SPAN 7559: THE GLOBAL SOUTH IMAGINARY
The “Global South”––referring both to a situational location that indexes spaces of inequity around the globe and a transnational political imaginary that results from a shared experience of the negative effects of globalization––has become a significant category of critical cultural analysis over the last ten years. While the term “Global South” has gained the most currency, many have described how contemporary capitalist globalization leads to rescaled socio-spatial relations that produce new transnational political collectivities. Arjun Appadurai calls this trend “grassroots globalization” or “globalization from below;” Boaventura de Sousa Santos uses “subaltern cosmopolitanism” and “counter-hegemonic globalization;” Fernando Rosenberg refers to it as “alternative, southern cosmopolitanism,” and Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri describe it simply as “the multitude.” This course will critically examine these “new” concepts, considering their deep roots within hemispheric American political thought and tracing the way these ideas attempt to respond to and depart from nationally-scaled comparative frameworks. Questions driving this course will include: What is the Global South? What are the ramifications of a Global South paradigm for literary and cultural production in our contemporary moment of globalization? What does a Global South reading look like? What might the Global South provide as an analytical filter that postcolonial or world-systems frameworks do not? What are potential pitfalls of this critical category and how might Global South scholarship avoid a totalizing category that veils local and internal inequities?