Writing Exile, Migration and Diaspora

From Gisela Brinker-Gabler

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In the last decade increased attention has been directed toward cultural practice that crosses and re-crosses cultural borderlands. Interest in such writing derives in part from the current climate of geographical mobility and instability. But it also derives from debates around identity politics and the privileging of ‘authentic’ voices. Tales of exile and migration offer the opportunity to think differently about culture, memory, language, and nation. They cultivate an appreciation for the translatability of languages and cultures as well as for the untranslatability of certain forms of cultural specificity. They also imagine forms of communities not bound by conventional commonalities, those of territory, history, language and religion. The class takes its departure from the literal meaning of trans- latio, “change from one place, position or condition to another.” It examines contemporary art and literature that crosses cultures with focus on the representation of the complex dynamics of cross-cultural exchanges and interactions, of language and communication, and culture and human rights. What kind of translation takes place under the specific conditions of exile and migration ? What forms of immersion, conversion or other possibilities emerge? How does the reader of cross-cultural creative production experience ‘culture’? How does cross- cultural work resist normative reading ideologies?