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Rethinking Diaspora: Travel, Transnationalism, and Self-Writing

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Organizer: Yu Min Claire Chen

Co-Organizer: Ju Young Jin

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"It may be that writers in my position, exiles, or emigrants or expatriates, are haunted by some sense of loss, some urge to reclaim, to look back, even at the risk of being mutilated into pillars of salt. But if we do look back, we must do in the knowledge - which gives rise to profound uncertainties- that our physical alienation from India almost inevitably means that we will not be capable of reclaiming precisely the thing that was lost, that we will, in short, create fictions, not actual cities or villages, but invisible ones, imaginary homelands, Indias of the mind."
― Salman Rushdie

Under globalization, transnationalism has become a new normal. The convenience of transportation has transformed the way people travel, communicate and thus has facilitated exploration, communication, exchange, and understanding among countries. The panel aims to explore and reconsider the meaning of diaspora from international travel and transnationalism throughout history and various aspects. How has modernity contributed to the diaspora? How have diaspora and transnationalism reshaped one’s understanding of the world, reconsidered one’s own culture, and re-imagined the others? How have the experiences of international travels impacted different ethnic groups and brought changes to their cultural identity or even cultural memory? Are those constant international travelers free, as Rene Descartes wrote in his letter in 1648? Or are they trapped in between? How do writers record or view their experiences in their travelogues, memoirs, self-writings, or even fiction?

The panel solicits papers but are not limited to the topics below:

Asian Diaspora and transnationalism
Narrating immigration and ethnicity
The geographical and cultural observations in self-writing
Cultural memories: Past, Present, and Future
Identity in transit: Writings on exiles, immigrants, or expatriates
Travel Writing

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