CFP MLA 2018 Questioning Precarity

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    Moradewun Adejunmobi

    The Africa since 1990 forum of the MLA invites submission of abstracts for a non-guaranteed panel titled “Questioning Precarity” at the 2018 Annual Convention. As a concept, precarity has been associated with a retrenchment of the state, erosion of Fordist production and casualization of labor, among others, especially in the Global North. Precarity is less frequently invoked with respect to the repeated failures of the state, dysfunctional economies, and rampant informalization of labor that have long been hallmarks of societies in Africa and elsewhere in the Global South. In this panel, we wish to examine the extent to which discussions about precarity and the precariat as elaborated by authors like Judith Butler, Brett Neilson and Ned Rossiter, as well as Guy Standing among others might be relevant for interpreting discourses around persistent conditions, especially in Africa, but also elsewhere in the global south. We follow the questioning of Ronaldo Munck (2013) who asks: “is the term novel or even relevant, for the millions of workers and urban poor in the global South for whom precariousness has always been a seemingly natural condition?”


    Send 250 word abstracts and a one-page CV before March 15 2017 to with ‘MLA PANEL” in subject line.



    We welcome papers that refer to literature and cinema from the Global South in addressing the following questions among others:


    • How might we either theorize or critique notions of precarity by examining discourses from and about locations in the Global South?
    • What are the related concepts to precarity which might apply as well or more appropriately to a discussion of conditions in the Global South?
    • How might we read the work on precarity in the light of arguments advanced by scholars like the Comaroffs in their book, Theory from the South?
    • To what extent does the literature on informality and informal economies intersect with the literature on precarity as a framework for understanding states of insecurity in the global south?
    • Aside from precarity, how else might be characterize the ‘states of insecurity’ represented in works from the Global South or by authors from the Global South?
    • To what extent do texts from the global south reveal what amounts to the emergence of a precaritat in these regions of the world?
    • How might we characterize and contextualize a poetics of precarity with specific reference to distinct literary traditions within the Global South?
    • To what extent might the contested ethics for representing the varied states of insecurity in the global south be applicable to contemporary representations of precarity in the Global North?


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