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Nonfiction: A Global South Genre

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Organizer: Haider Shahbaz

Co-Organizer: Christopher Lee

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Literary studies in the fields of anticolonialism, postcolonialism, and the Global South often focus on fictional genres, especially novels. While it is important to pay attention to fiction, this panel seeks to shift focus towards nonfiction and the ways in which it has contributed to the creation of anticolonial and postcolonial literary cultures in the Global South. 

There are numerous nonfictional texts that were written during anticolonial struggles and in the aftermath of decolonization. Some of the most important anticolonial writers like Frantz Fanon and C.L.R James primarily wrote nonfiction. In their work, and in the work of countless other writers, we can see how nonfictional texts sought to contest colonial thought, racial capitalism, and postcolonial nationalisms. How do we read these texts not simply as sources of theoretical and historical context for fiction, but as literary texts themselves? How do they add to our knowledge of anticolonialism and postcolonialism? And how do they change our understanding of ‘literature’ and literary criticism?

While we are interested in the work of canonical anticolonial writers and major genres like history and philosophy, we are also interested in a range of other nonfictional genres that have contributed to literary and political activity in the Global South: memoirs, manifestos, travel writing, biographies and autobiographies, political pamphlets, recipes and cookbooks, letters and correspondence, criticism, speeches, sermons, translator’s notes, forewords, editorials, book reviews, newspaper columns, reports and essays, memorandums, family histories, business records and financial documents, conference proceedings, and the list goes on. 

We look forward to receiving scholarly work that focuses on different nonfictional texts and genres as they are written and reconfigured in the particular histories and geographies of the Global South. 

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