Mi / 10:00 – 11:30

Cartographies of Belonging

Embodiment and Gender In Contemporary Writing from South Asia and Beyond

Nisha Kommattam, KWI International Fellow

Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut Essen (KWI), Raum 106, Goethestraße 31, 45128 Essen

While in a sense literary texts have always been interested in questions of exile, migration and belonging, in many contemporary literary cultures writers are exploring these questions with renewed urgency. Examples reach from the ‘new migration literatures’ in Germany, France and other European countries to authors who attempt to recover forgotten histories of diversity and cross-cultural otherness in India. Drawing on the recent work of writers in English, German, Malayalam, and Spanish, in three distinct sites – India, Germany and the US – I examine how writers interrogate migration and movement through the lenses of embodiment and gender. On the basis of examples from diverse literary economies – texts such as Arundhati Roy’s new novel The Ministry of Utmost Happiness (2017), the provocative poetry installations of Anitha Thampi, or Yoko Tawada’s German poetry – I will argue for a critical perspective that views depictions of transgressive, gendered embodiments as rooted in the local and particular.