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Manuscript deadline
15 May 2021

Cover image - South Asian Review

South Asian Review

Special Issue Editor(s)

Amit Rahul Baishya, University of Oklahoma
[email protected]

Rakhee Kalita, Cotton University, India
[email protected]

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Insides-Outsides: Northeast Indian Anglophone Literature

Insides-Outsides: Northeast Indian Anglophone Literature

We start this CFP with two seemingly paradoxical propositions. There is no Northeast Indian Literature, only literatures from Northeast India. If there is the possibility of a Northeast Indian literature, then that can be realized only in English. We say this because embodied in the directional category of “Northeast India,” as political essayist Sanjib Baruah says in his recent book In the Name of the Nation, is “the history of a series of ad hoc decisions made by national-security-minded managers of the postcolonial Indian state.” On the one hand, taking such an “ad hoc” formulation as a descriptive designator (as in Northeast Indian literature) risks flattening and homogenizing the polyglot literary traditions in the region; on the other hand, English, with its inside-outside status and embedded local histories in the region enables a contention with the historicity of this ad hoc formulation of regional and borderland space. While this issue aims to complicate the commonly used designation Northeast Indian Literature, with an exclusive focus on Anglophone cultural production, the discussions will necessarily tread the familiar ground of narratives emanating from a space that has too often been read as somewhat alien to cultural and intellectual Pan Indianisms/South Asianisms, while simultaneously trying to frame new metrics that can accommodate the rhetoric and aesthetics of literatures emerging from this terrain.

Northeast Indian Anglophone literature, we further suggest, simultaneously occupies an inside-outside status in Indian/South Asian Anglophone literary traditions. While this emergent literary tradition participates in the recent trend of “margins” writing back to larger constructs of nation/region, it simultaneously imagines multiple, heterogenous senses of being in place and localized senses of belonging that cannot be encapsulated within what Pankaj Mishra, in his blurb in Siddhartha Deb’s Point of Return, calls the process of making “vivid and dramatic the small, usually unremembered lives lived out in the shadow of large national histories.” This special issue of South Asian Review, the first attempt to theorize the increasingly expanding oeuvre of Northeast Indian Anglophone Literature (NIAL), contends with this dual predicament of being both “inside” the shadow of larger national/regional histories, and illuminating spaces “outside” the bounds of spatial constructs like “nation” or “region.”

  • Although this list is not exhaustive, we invite proposals on topics like:
  • NIAL, borderland literature and the shadow of the security state
  • NIAL and colonial/post-colonial histories (from “frontiers” to “borderlands,” the impact of WWII and partition, the 1962 war with China, the independence of Bangladesh, independentist movements in the region etc)
  • Imaginaries of locality, like the “small town” novel
  • Ecological issues and their representation in literature
  • The opening towards affiliations with histories other than presentist, ad hoc formulations of nation and region in NIAL
  • Genre and predominant genres in NIAL (the novel, the short story, poetry, graphic novel)
  • The role and status of English in the region and its impact on NIAL
  • The conversations NIAL has with Indian metropolitan literatures
  • Constructions and traditions of orality and their inscriptions in written forms
  • Politics of gender and writing Northeast India.
  • Contesting the term “Northeast India” through a consideration of literary and cultural production.
  • The economics and politics in translating texts from the region into English

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Submission Instructions

Please send 250 word abstracts along with a short CV to Rakhee Kalita ([email protected]) and Amit Baishya ([email protected]) by Nov. 1, 2020. We will make a selection from these abstracts. Full papers (6000 words) in length will be due by May 15, 2021. The papers will first be reviewed by the two editors and will then be sent out for anonymous peer review. The anticipated publication date of the special issue is 2022.

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