ACLA 2015 Global South

American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA) Annual Meeting, 2015

Literary Historiography: Ethnography, Oral history, and the Archive

Deadline: October 15, 2014

Organizer: Amal Eqeiq , Williams College

Co-Organizer: Samer Al-Saber , Co-Organizer Institution: Davidson College

In writing literary history in the Global South, the literary historian/historiographer encounters a nexus of tensions between colonial theory and colonized resistance, the reliability of the occupier and the credibility of the occupied, and the ethnography of the invader and the memory of the native. This nexus reflects a greater tension between anthropology and critical theory. Ironically, the literary historian also encounters natives who employ colonial anthropologies as means of resistance.In this seminar, we explore these tensions by examining the potential and limits of ethnography, oral history, and the living archive as modes of inquiry and representation within the field of literary historiography. While we invite traditional questions that focus on the identification of the ethnographic, the oral, and the living archive as literatures in and of themselves, we also examine the role of such literatures in transforming stagnant views of the colonized, subaltern, oppressed, and Orientalized. How has the inclusion of testimony and folklore influenced the writing of literary history? What does ethnography contribute to the literature and history of the colonized and what, if any, is its role in the present? Where has literary historiography challenged master cultural and national narratives? Which historiographical lenses arbitrate, vindicate, or indict settler narratives in relation to indigenous oral and written accounts?In a critical gesture towards remapping world literatures, this seminar aspires to create South-South dialogues in comparative literary historiography between Latin America, Africa the Middle East, indigenous communities, and South-East Asia. Given the particularity and the commonality of the colonial legacy in the Global South and its burden on writing literary history, we invite scholars to participate in this dialogue and to discuss any of the following themes: oral literature, documentary art/ film, cultural memory, native archives, and ethnographies as historical/literary texts.

In Seattle, our ultimate goal will be to explore new directions for the study of indigenous epistemologies and decolonized histories in the Global South.

For further information, please contact Samer Al-Saber at:

saalsaber@davidson.edu