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Diasporas, Cultures of Mobilities, ‘Race’ 2

Sarah Barbour
David Howard
Thomas Lacroix
et al.


Texte intégral

1Adriana Capuano de Oliveira

2 A Question of Identity: Being Japanese in Brazil and being Brazilian in Japan

3After almost 100 years of Japanese immigration to Brazil, Brazilians of Japanese descent start to come back to the land of their parents and grandparents to begin a new migratory saga: the construction of a Little Brazil in Japan. This essay discusses questions of identity and the factors that triggered them as a result of these migratory processes. The majority of Brazilians emigrating to Japan are Japanese descendants who, absorbed into this new migratory process, go through various moments of reflection. When these Brazilians who are considered Japanese in Brazil move to Japan, they are confronted with the surprising experience of being identified as typically Brazilian, even though their physical characteristics are similar to the majority of mainland Japanese people. Confronted with seemingly reserved individuals, with whom they do not share habits, ideas or language, these immigrants go through the singular experience of recognising themselves as Brazilians. As they confront a population which is physically similar but culturally very different, they feel more foreign than ever.

4Aurélie Condevaux

5 ‘All the same family’? Constructing and Embodying the ‘Pacific Peoples’ Category in New Zealand

6In an attempt to understand how second generation migrants from Pacific archipelagos in New Zealand cope with the imposition of ‘panethnic’ categories such as ‘Polynesian’ or ‘Pacific Islanders’, this research also contributes to the understanding of the dynamics of New Zealand politics, which tend to shift from a bicultural perspective to a ‘multicultural’ one. These questions are addressed through an ethnographic study of a cultural performance that took place in the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in 2008, a case study that enables us to analyse how processes of cultural identification and assignation rely both on discourses and body practices.

7Joanne Drayton

8 ‘Across the Board’—A Project Exploring Diaspora and Migration

9‘Across the Board’ is a project initiated by the author which explores diaspora and migration, bringing together representations of ancestors to a chessboard, which is used a metaphor for the post-colonial relationship between Maori and Pakeha in Aotearoa New Zealand. Pakeha colonized Aotearoa New Zealand from the 1840s onward. After leaving family behind in Europe, migrants arriving in Aotearoa encountered an indigenous culture whose central essence and identity depended on their relationship to the past and especially to ancestry. The Maori cosmos was based on kinship, and belonging to the land. Maori named their meeting houses, canoes, weapons and cherished objects or taonga after ancestors. They believed these items carried a trace of their ancestor’s wairua or soul. These items imbued with ancestral spirit gave the dead a presence amongst the living. ‘Across the Board’ was begun as a semi-autobiographical project inspired by the urge to bring carved representations of my European ancestors to the board. However, as the initiator of the project, I quickly realized that my ancestral legacy was much more complicated than the simple mono-cultural narrative I was constructing. In fact, my very longing to connect with an ancient ancestral past had a largely indigenous Maori origin. Some of this complexity is explained in the concepts of ‘acculturation’, ‘syncretism’, and ‘creolizaiton’. This essay explores these ideas in relation to bi-culturalism in New Zealand and looks at the conceptual underpinnings of a project that use the game of chess as a metaphor to explore the impact of diaspota in Aotearoa New Zealand.

10Ghenwa Hayek

11 ‘Carrying Africa’, Becoming Lebanese: Diasporic Middleness in Lebanese Fiction

12In this essay, I explore the ways in which the bodies of migrants, specifically, of Lebanese men who have returned from Africa, are represented in Lebanese fiction. By focusing on the ways in which these figures are embodied textually, I seek to begin to shed light on the ways in which Lebanese authors have engaged with certain diasporic spaces, in this case, the often-undifferentiated referent ‘Africa’. I argue that the ways in which Lebanese fiction engages with the Lebanese experience in the African diaspora reveals not only a cultural attitude towards Africa that is tangled up in notions of scientific racism, and a colonial and postcolonial anxiety about Lebanese identity and nationalism, but also, concomitantly, a gnawing anxiety over the meaning of Lebanese identity and the viability of Lebanon itself. In this essay, I closely read two texts, written and published almost a century apart, showing the remarkable similarity that nevertheless exists between them. However, I argue that, especially in the earlier prose fiction that is the main focus of this essay, Lebanese identity is figured as a sort of between-ness, between white European identity and African identity; it is through this betweenness that the figure of the exemplary Lebanese individual emerges.

13Maggi M. Morehouse

14 African Diaspora Theory: Here, There, and Everywhere

15Although the term ‘African Diaspora’ seems relatively new, a number of twentieth century scholars have utilized a diasporic framework to explain the commonalities among people of African descent around the world. While the earliest scholars did not use the term African Diaspora to describe the communities that were dispersed from Africa and germinated in the New World, modern scholars have consistently used the analytical concept. Many intellectuals and other scholars, from the social sciences through the humanities, link the black experience around the world using a diasporic framework. They explicitly categorize the identity communities created out of the enslaved experience as one of African Diaspora identity formation, and they are building consensus for using the framework to describe the commonalities among black communities in today’s global world. In simple terms, diaspora as a concept can be defined as the identity community that is formed when people move. However, this multivalent concept has been anything but simply defined. This essay will highlight the competing attempts at theorizing the African Diaspora, from its earliest proponents to its more contemporary cultural studies adherents.

16Pat Noxolo

17 Moving Maps: African-Caribbean Dance as Embodied Mapping

18The African-Caribbean diasporic body is often understood as displaced and de-territorialised, rather than as productive of place. This essay is a critical interrogation of this tension between black mobile bodies and emplacement, suggestively re-imagining African-Caribbean diasporic dance as a form of embodied mapping (rather than as a spatial practice to be mapped). As an example, the essay presents a detailed analysis of a dance performance piece choreographed and performed by ‘H’ Patten in the early 1990s. ‘H’ Patten is a leading UK-based transnational practitioner in African and Caribbean dance, with almost three decades of performance, choreography and dance-for-camera experience, both independently and with major dance ensembles such as Adzido in the UK, Stella Maris in Jamaica, and Noyam in Ghana. The analysis has three parts, each of which explores an aspect of the dance as embodied mapping: first there is an analysis of bodily movements from a recording of a performance of ‘Ina di Wildanis’, a solo dance performance piece (the dance as spatial representation); second there are in-depth interviews with the choreographer/performer about the symbolic and representational meanings of the dance in relation to African-Caribbean diaspora and mobility (the choreographer as cartographer); and third there is an auto-ethnography of the effects of the writer being in the audience for the live performance (the audience as map-user). The essay ultimately pushes towards developing an understanding of dance as a critical form of embodied cartography, one that might better represent the complex emplacements of African-Caribbean diasporic mobilities.

19Zoran Pecic

20 Re-creating the Queer Narrative: The Past and the Present in Lawrence Scott’s Aelred’s Sin

21This essay argues that Lawrence Scott’s 1998 novel Aelred’s Sin intersects the studies of queer and diaspora, as it enables a reconsideration of queer cultural texts within the framework of diaspora studies. Adding tactics to the existing research within the field of queer diaspora, the essay argues that Scott’s text destabilises spatial boundaries and allows mobility and local historicity to intervene in the wider debates on queer and diaspora studies. By emphasising writing as a means of homosexual recognition, the essay argues that Scott’s Caribbean queer narrative is a place where, through writing, a tactical homosexual identification can be articulated.

22Mélanie Pénicaud

23 D’exils en migrations: échos d’une dispersion iranienne

24Arguing for a better recognition of the notion of exile in the social sciences, this article intends to shed light on the complexity of the connexions between migration and exile narratives by analysing several examples representations of Iranian migration and exile. In underlining the differences between exile and migration in narratives, this article examines the possibility of working with a dual corpus composed of both oral and written sources. Investigating sources of a different nature—but mainly based on interviews—and focusing on the figures and representations of exile, these pages present the variety of meaning that the term ‘exile’ can embody for people in contrast to ‘migration’ in the context of Iranian migration.

25 Plaidant pour une meilleure reconnaissance de la notion d’exil dans le domaine des sciences sociales, cet article se propose d’interroger différentes formes de l’expression de l’exil iranien à travers l’analyse des expériences migratoires et du récit de soi en contexte migratoire. En s’attachant à la dialectique entre expériences migratoires et exiliques, ces lignes esquissent ainsi une approche comparative de l’étude des différents modes d’expression de soi en migration, à la fois oraux et écrits. Elles croisent ainsi l’analyse des expériences migratoires et de leurs expressions avec une réflexion sous-jacente relative à la connexité entre la migration et l’exil, que cette dernière soit de nature intrinsèque à leur existence commune ou bien construite socialement, culturellement, politiquement.

26 Evelyne Ribert

27 Between Silences and Rewritings: Two Approaches to Memory Construction by Spanish Refugees and Economic Immigrants in France

28This essay compares the varied historical and cultural legacies received and narrated by descendants regarding migratory experience of two groups: Spanish refugees who arrived in France following the Civil War and Spanish immigrants who came during the 1950s and 1960s. The narratives analysed in this essay are from interviews conducted with 46 persons which recount their memories, transmitted to descendants of migrants. The author’s fieldwork shows that refugees generally share little with their descendants about their lived experiences of the Civil War and the Retirada, whereas they do transmit a memory of their opposition to Francoism. Of the experiential reality of various events, what is told is only that which can be integrated with the French collective memory, such as the Resistance. The rest, in particular what was lived in Spain, remains unspoken. On the other hand, economic migrants, who return very regularly to Spain, rewrite their history from the vantage of the present, mixing memories of their past in Spain with memories of their present life in France. Consequently, the context of and reasons for their migration are transformed. What was at the time often a family decision connected with the opportunity of acquiring a house is now presented by the migrants simply as having to do with economic necessities and the future of the children. The memory associated with the life spent in Spain, supported by frequent stays there, is maintained and transmitted to the descendants.

29Suzanne Scafe

30 Diana Evans’s 26a and The Wonder: Space, Place and Affect

31This essay focuses on Evans’s detailed and meticulously realist representations of place in her first two novels, 26a and The Wonder, and argues that, underlying these realistically presented localities are instabilities, the narrative’s use of the magical and fantastical, which create instabilities in the text and serve self-consciously to challenge routine distinctions between self and other, native and foreigner, home and homelessness. The identities constructed are unselfconsciously plural, constituted of shifting, or colliding, geographies and temporalities whose significance nonetheless rests in the present of the novel and not in an extra textual historicity. Although centring on stories of loss and dislocation, the narrative creates affective spaces of commitment that, despite being also configured by loss and sadness, present the possibility of hope. The detailed attention to the specifics of place are evidence of Evans’s interest in how characters belong, rather than on the need to belong. The essay demonstrates the narratives’ privileging of unbelonging and movement, though within its carefully constructed spaces of commitment constituted by the emotional ties of individuals to each other. The spaces within which national, cultural and individual identities emerge is, in these texts, fluid, irreducible and integrally connected to globally enmeshed pasts.

32Debora Stefani

33 Fighting against Post-Colonial Optimism: In Search for Subaltern Agency in Vietnamese American Fiction

34The late eighties and early nineties saw the publication of such works as The Empire Strikes Back (1989) and The Location of Culture (1994). Despite their crucial influence on the development of postcolonial theory, these works contributed to an idealization of the post-colonial subject—a trend that continues to this day embodied by Ashcroft’s horizonal space. They enthusiastically answer Spivak that, indeed, the subaltern can speak. However, The Book of Salt by Monique Truong and Linh Dinh’s short stories ‘!’ and ‘Prisoner with a Dictionary’ fight openly against this post-colonial optimism. Through an eclectic approach to these Vietnamese American works, which combines diasporic and post-structuralist theories, I question the usefulness of Ashcroft’s concepts of horizonal space and transnation and Bhabha’s notions of interstices and third space in representing the subaltern condition. While Ashcroft and Bhabha highly praise any attempt by the colonized to resist colonial hegemony and celebrate the state of ‘in-betweenness, ‘ I caution that these ‘spaces’, these ‘interstices’ are not inviolable; they do not operate in isolation, but they are challenged by other, possibly differently constituted ‘spaces’. I prove this by analyzing the interplay of identity modalities, in this case language and colonization, in the three texts.

35Christine Vogt-William

36 Meeting Mr. Hyde and Dr. Stone: Mixed Race Twins and White Fathers in Contemporary Diasporic Novels

37Diaspora has often been used in conjunction with racial and cultural differences when discussing the tensions generated by attempts at situating selves and communities in new matrices far from natal spaces. Diasporic conditions thus often bear the stamp of ‘unbelonging’—at best an uneasy belonging— called forth by the marginalised positioning of diasporic communities in ‘host’ societies, whereby the term ‘diaspora’ is applied to those defined through racial and ethnic minority status, difference and exclusion. The term is however problematic since the attendant questions of origins, shared history and contemporary solidarity render it ambivalent: ‘it can be seen to reinscribe and champion essentialised notions of racial and ethnic difference, as well as contest and fracture them’ (Alexander, 2010: 113). In conjunction with this, my essay will explore mixed race identities and the concomitant condition of being astride cultural borders in Diana Evans’ 26a (2006) and Abraham Verghese’s Cutting for Stone (2009).

38 A common feature in both novels is that the main protagonists are identical twins: female twins in 26a and male twins in Cutting for Stone. Hence, besides questions of race and gender, the twin sensibilities of ‘twoness in oneness’, ‘wholeness’ or ‘halfness’ are just as relevant to ideas of boundaries and borders, being and belonging intrinsic to the concept of diaspora. The African spaces of Nigeria and Ethiopia are of considerable import to both sets of twins in the novels since they relate to these spaces through their maternal genealogies. At the same time, both sets of twins also navigate the diasporic spaces of England and America while shaping their individual life trajectories.

© Presses universitaires de la Méditerranée, 2015

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