Cultural Grammars of Nation, Diaspora, and Indigeneity in Canada
Paper 284 pp.
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Cultural Grammars of Nation, Diaspora, and Indigeneity in Canada considers how the terms of critical debate in literary and cultural studies in Canada have shifted with respect to race, nation, and difference. In asking how Indigenous and diasporic interventions have remapped these debates, the contributors argue that a new “cultural grammar” is at work and attempt to sketch out some of the ways it operates.
The essays reference pivotal moments in Canadian literary and cultural history and speak to ongoing debates about Canadian nationalism, postcolonalism, migrancy, and transnationalism. Topics covered include the Asian race riots in Vancouver in 1907, the cultural memory of internment and dispersal of Japanese Canadians in the 1940s, the politics of migrant labour and the “domestic labour scheme” in the 1960s, and the trial of Robert Pickton in Vancouver in 2007. The contributors are particularly interested in how diaspora and indigeneity continue to contribute to this critical reconfiguration and in how conversations about diaspora and indigeneity in the Canadian context have themselves been transformed. Cultural Grammars is an attempt to address both the interconnections and the schisms between these multiply fractured critical terms as well as the larger conceptual shifts that have occurred in response to national and postnational arguments.
Christine Kim is an assistant professor of English at Simon Fraser University. Her teaching and research focus on Asian North American literature and theory, contemporary Canadian literature, and diasporic writing. She has recently published articles in Open Letter, Studies in Canadian Literature, and Asian Canadian Writing beyond Autoethnography (WLU Press, 2008). She is currently working on a book-length project titled From Multiculturalism to Globalization: The Cultural Politics of Asian Canadian Writing.
Sophie McCall teaches contemporary First Nations and Canadian literatures in the English Department at Simon Fraser University. She is the author of First Person Plural: Aboriginal Storytelling and the Ethics of Collaborative Authorship (2011).
Melina Baum Singer is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at the University of Western Ontario. Her research explores transnational and diasporic literatures in English Canada. She has co-edited, with Lily Cho, two special issues of Open Letter, “Poetics and Public Culture” and “Dialogues on Poetics and Public Culture”.
“These essays map the fields of debate about nation, Indigeneity, and diaspora to clarify the stakes of discussion rather than simply to choose a singular definition of those complex concepts.... As a whole, the collection’s charge to think deeply about terms of critique challenges critics not only to question the assumptions and stakes of various projects, but also to look outside the shibboleths of cultural studies subfields in order to avoid blindspots and to envision alternative futures free of corporatized modernity.”
— Paul Lai, Canadian Literature
“Cultural Grammars of Nation, Diaspora, and Indigeneity in Canada is a valuable contribution to an emerging discourse within the field of Indigenous Studies. It furthers a multi-disciplinary dialogue by exploring the relationship between transnationalism, diaspora, and indigeneity in Canada, while interrogating the value of postcolonial theory as a lens for working through these topics. With the objective of ‘[making] discernible the language rules governing our critical choices and the conceptual framework we mobilize, consciously or not’ (9), Cultural Grammars challenges existing notions of home, nostalgia, and authenticity, and explores the linkages between the respective histories that shape transnational and Indigenous identities.... Cultural Grammars is highly sophisticated, intensely theoretical, and can be difficult to apply across disciplines on account of the specificity of some of the literary analysis; however.... there are moments of insight in each chapter that encourage a broad array of readers to be self-reflexive of the nomenclature and theoretical frameworks employed in their own work.”
— Gabrielle Legault, BC Studies: The British Columbian Quarterly