Date of Degree

5-2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Comparative Literature

Advisor

Robert Reid-Pharr

Committee Members

Giancarlo Lombardi

Ashley Dawson

Sonali Perera

Subject Categories

Comparative Literature | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Keywords

migration, globalization, migritude, affect, Black Atlantic, Black Mediterranean

Abstract

Migritude: Structures of Feeling in a Minor Literature of Globalization examines contemporary postcolonial narratives of migration written by women of color writing in English and in Italian under the rubric of “migritude.” Migritude literature describes the work of a disparate yet distinct group of contemporary authors whose work describes the condition of being a migrant under globalization with a critical feminist and anti-imperialist politics and poetics. It is a global justice movement that sees literature as a form of cultural activism. Migritude literatures traces the connections between contemporary globalization and colonial processes of the past and sheds light on how the functioning and expansion of capitalism relies on forced displacement and forced labor authorized and ensured by the nation-state apparatus. I contribute to the field of migritude, which traditionally defines migritude as African and francophone, by expanding its parameters to include literature written by authors with broader orgins in the Global South and by examining works written in English and in Italian. This study also responds to the dominance of male authors by centering the work of women to delineate the gendered subject of migration and the particularity of her ontological challenges as she faces racist, heteronormative, and anti-immigrant systems of law, borders, and checkpoints designed to restrict her mobility.

My close reading of these literatures brings together Black Atlantic, Indian Ocean, and Black Mediterranean frameworks to show their transhistorical connections and their exigency in a political and literary landscape in which forcibly displaced communities are underrepresented. I examine the poetics of works by Shailja Patel, Saidiya Hartman, Gaiutra Bahadur, Cristina Ali Farah, and Igiaba Scego through the lens of affect to show how migritude texts share a structure of feeling particular to global migrants with an emphasis on anger, shame, and ambivalence. A careful study of these literatures makes their urgency in a period of rising global ethno-national populism clear.

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