MESH Research Fruits
Public Lecture | This Planet, These Waves, and My Suitcase: Ethics and Ecopoetics of Contemporary Migrant Literary Cultures
PD Dr Pavan Kumar Malreddy (Goethe University Frankfurt)
December 14, 2023 | 17.45 – 19.15 | Auerbach Bibliothek, Wienand Haus, Weyertal 59, 3. OG
Due to the library’s seating capacity, please register until December 10 via e-mail: smaasse3uni-koeln.de
This talk focuses on the figure of the migrant in contemporary literary studies and cultural productions from the Caribbean to Australia. While challenging the conventional approaches to migration, which tend to focus on the empirical, economic, and heuristic dimension of the movement of people as the import/export of desired labor and undesirable cultures, the talk turns to the poetic, aesthetic, and political implications of mass mobility from the perspective of the subjects in flight. Unlike the existing approaches to migration, which tend to depict migrants as abject subjects, suffering from nostalgia, loss of culture, homesickness, and a pathological longing for an originary home, the texts analyzed in this lecture prove the opposite to be true: Migrants neither seek home in their host cultures nor do they remain obstinately loyal to their originary homes or cultures. Instead, they denounce the very idea of home, owing much to the anxieties shaped by their lost homes. Aided by global literary texts and cultural productions by artists and writers such as William Kentridge, Warsan Shire, Mohsin Hamid, David Dabydeen, Behrouz Boochani, and the ethical framework on migration provided by Homi Bhabha, Georg Lukács, and Edward Said, this talk delineates the ecopoetics of global homelessness as ethical norm, as opposed to the homing desire of liberal humanism.
Pavan Malreddy, born and raised in South Indian villages, studied and taught in Canada, Singapore, and the Netherlands, teaches at the Department of English, Goethe University Frankfurt. He specializes in 20th and 21st century comparative Anglophone literatures & cultures with a regional focus on East Asia, Africa, and South Asia and with a thematic focus on conflicts, communal bonds, insurgencies, populism, public life and migrancy. He has authored essays on figures and themes as wide-ranging as Aung San Suu Kyi, Salman Rushdie, Franz Kafka, George Orwell, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Indian cinema, Brexit, terrorism, and the civil war in Burma, among others. He has interviewed/hosted prominent novelists and theorists such as Abdulrazak Gurnah (Nobel Prize Literature 2022), Arundhati Roy, Yann Martel, Homi K. Bhabha, Mohsin Hamid, Tom McCarthy, Amit Chaudhuri, and Tabish Khair. He co-edits Kairos: A Journal of Critical Symposium, and serves on the advisory board of Philosophy, Politics and Critique and The Journal of Alterity Studies and World Literature, among others. His recent books include the co-edited volumes Writing Brexit (2022, Routledge), Violence in South Asia (2020, Routledge), Narratives of the War on Terror (2020, Routledge) and the forthcoming monograph Insurgent Cultures: World Literatures and Violence from the Global South (Cambridge University Press, 2024, fc). He is currently working on a book under the same title of this contribution: Groundless Existence.