Embracing the Other

Addressing Xenophobia in the New Literatures in English

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Edited by Dunja M. Mohr

In the wake of addressing multiculturalism, transculturalism, racism, and ethnicity, the issue of xenophobia and xenophilia has been somewhat marginalized. The present collection seeks, from a variety of angles, to investigate the relations between Self and Other in the New Literatures in English. How do we register differences and what does an embrace signify for both Self and Other? The contributors deal with a variety of topics, ranging from theoretical reflections on xenophobia, its exploration in terms of intertextuality and New Zealand/Maori historiography, to analyses of migrant and border narratives, and issues of transitionality, authenticity, and racism in Canada and South Africa. Others negotiate identity and alterity in Nigerian, Malaysian, Australian, Indian, Canadian, and Caribbean texts, or reflect on diaspora and orientalism in Australian–Asian and West Indian contexts.

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Dunja M. Mohr

The problematic nexus of language, thought, and reality perception has been at the centre of speculation in utopian, dystopian, and science fiction from the beginning. Starting from a Judaeo-Christian background, early utopias speculated about the retrieval of the imaginary and idealized protolanguage, envisioning a perfect language everyone can understand. In contrast, modern science fiction (sf) novels foreground alien languages or modes of non-verbal communication and the inherent problems of translation. Novels using linguistics as a major plot device draw heavily on either the weak or the strong form of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis and its premise that speaking a different language precludes seeing another culture’s reality. Examples dealt with in this essay are Jack Vance’s dystopia The Languages of Pao (1958), Samuel R. Delany’s sf novel Babel-17 (1966), Ian Watson’s sf novel The Embedding (1973), and especially Suzette Haden Elgin’s transgressive utopian dystopian Native Tongue series (1984-1994).

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Edited by Dunja M. Mohr and Birgit Däwes

Radical Planes? 9/11 and Patterns of Continuity, edited by Dunja M. Mohr and Birgit Däwes, explores the intersections between narrative disruption and continuity in post-9/11 narratives from an interdisciplinary transnational perspective, foregrounding the transatlantic cultural memory of 9/11. Contesting the earlier notion of a cataclysm that has changed ‘everything,’ and critically reflecting on American exceptionalism, the collection offers an inquiry into what has gone unchanged in terms of pre-9/11, post-9/11, and post-post-9/11 issues and what silences persist. How do literature and performative and visual arts negotiate this precarious balance of a pervasive discourse of change and emerging patterns of political, ideological, and cultural continuity?

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Dunja M. Mohr and Birgit Däwes