ASIA/CMPL 359: Literary Diasporas of the Middle East
“Diaspora” refers to the relations between homelands and host nations from the perspective of those who have moved, whether voluntarily or not, and to the lived experience of these communities. The figure of the migrant has been celebrated by some as an icon of postmodernity, an emblematic figure in a world increasingly characterized by transnationalism, globalization and mass migration. Tracing the origins of the emerging body of diasporic literature of the Middle East in English, examining the socio-political position and historical context from which they emerged while situating this body of literature through existing theories such as post-colonialism, this course sheds light on the role of the Middle East diasporic literature and culture in Western literature. Each one of the writings reflects a diasporic experience unique to that region. Analyzing the relationship between the diaspora communities and their new surrounding by drawing on theories of migration, narration and identity, we will examine the literature borne out of this discourse. We will attempt to shed light not only on the historical, but also on the cultural and aesthetic value of this literary production. Among other themes, we will address issues of identity, home, citizenship, belonging, loyalty, affinity, colonialism, migration, culture, and the transnational conditions of diasporic existence, the various concerns involved in cultural and relational identification, in-betweenness and hybridity and the social, ethical and political repositioning of the diasporic subject. Who belongs? Who does not? What are the mechanisms by which individuals become included and excluded? All the readings in this course are in English. LA, BN, CI.