UNCHAINING SELVES: The Power of the Neo-Slave Narrative Genre—A CALLALOO Call for Papers


“Unchaining Selves: The Power of the Neo-Slave Narrative Genre” is a call for papers for a special issue on Neo-Slave Narratives guest edited by Joan Anim-Addo (Goldsmiths, University of London) and Maria Helena Lima (SUNY Geneseo) for Callaloo. The deadline for submissions is June 1, 2015.

Project Description: Since the last decades of the twentieth century, writers across the African Diaspora have drawn on elements of the narrative structure and thematic configuration of slave narratives in their recovery of the genre. [See full list of examples of Neo-slave narratives in the link below.] The main reasons for this seemingly widespread desire to rewrite a genre that officially lost its usefulness with the abolition of slavery are to re-affirm the historical value of the original slave narrative and/or to reclaim the humanity of the enslaved by (re)imagining their subjectivity.

No other genre has undergone such widespread creolization—both a process and a concept used to describe many forms of contact across a wide range of cultural and ideological formations—having become a mode shared by many cultures in an uneven yet interdependent world. The term is understood here as simultaneously descriptive and analytical: creolization emerges from the lived experience of peoples and provides a theoretical framework that does justice to the realities of subaltern lives.

Compellingly, as Lars Eckstein writes, “while most colonial testimonies of slavery have long disappeared from the working memory of today’s Black Atlantic societies, the prejudices and stereotypes they conveyed [unfortunately] have not” [see reference in the link below]. Writing about neo-slave narratives, Ashraf Rushdy defines such “palimpsest narratives” as fiction in which a contemporary character is “forced to adopt a bi-temporal perspective that shows the continuity and discontinuities from the period of slavery.” In these narratives, “the present is always written against a background where the past is erased but still legible” [see reference in the link below].

Essays should address some of the complexities of contemporary neo-slave narratives:

  • the global nature of slavery and hence the need for different representations rather than privileging the US context and perspective on slavery and slave culture;
  • the impact some of these narratives have on creating an alternative national imaginary—perhaps even a transnational imaginary;
  • the movement and multiplicity inherent to the process of diaspora permeating the neo-slave narrative genre;
  • the neo-slave narrative as a hybrid form, a combination not only of the seemingly oral and written but of various other generic modes;
  • the neo-slave narrative as post-memory—trauma survival accounts—the body as a site of memory;
  • the neo-slave narrative as “counter memory”;
  • the neo-slave narrative reconceptualization of community and home;
  • the neo-slave narrative as critique of contemporary historiography—“the sea is history” in Derek Walcott’s words;
  • the neo-slave narrative in queer/erotic contexts;
  • the neo-slave narrative as song (i.e. as opera, reggae, and/or dancehall songs).

CALLALOO Submission Guidelines:

Manuscripts must be submitted online through the CALLALOO manuscript submission system by June 1, 2015. Please see the submission guidelines here: http://callaloo.expressacademic.org/login.php. In order to submit a manuscript, you must register with the online system. The registration process will only take a few minutes. All manuscripts will follow the usual review process for submissions, and the CALLALOO editor makes all final editorial decisions.

For more information on the project and Guest Editors Joan Anim-Addo and Maria Helena Lima, and detailed guidelines, go to: http://call-for-papers.sas.upenn.edu/node/61602

[Image above: “De las dos aguas” (2007) by María Elena Campos Pons; see more of her work at http://superselected.com/art-polaroids-maria-magdalena-campos-pons-identity-through-surrealism/http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/eascfa/feminist_art_base/gallery/maria_magdalena_campos.php  and http://www.artnet.com/artists/maria-magdalena-campos-pons/past-auction-results]

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