News

‘Ethnography and Modern Languages’ published on MLO invites readers to join the discussion

The article ‘Ethnography and Modern Languages’ by Naomi Wells et. al has been published on the Liverpool University Press open access platform, Modern Languages Open. Readers are invited to join the discussion on the role of the ethnographic in Modern Languages and can leave their response directly on the MLO platform.

In response to recent debates and discussions on the subject, the article proposes ways in which an engagement with ethnographic practices and theories can be transformative in relation to approaches to Modern Languages teaching, research and wider engagement, as well as how such approaches can be more effectively supported within and across institutions.

Read the complete article on Modern Languages Open >

To add a response, simply go to the article on the MLO platform and click on the ‘discussions’ tab to the right of the article.

mlo header fullhorizontal--no-image

Modern Languages

The Mauritian Novel – In Conversation with Julia Waters

In advance of the publication, Julia Waters discusses her book The Mauritian Novel, what prompted her research, and why this book is such a timely a study in the field.

9781786941497

As Mauritian ecologist Vincent Florens asserts, Mauritius truly is a ‘laboratoire du monde’. With no original, in-dwelling inhabitants, Mauritius’s present-day population is made up entirely of the descendants of French colonial settlers, enslaved Africans and Malagasy, Indian indentured labourers, Chinese traders and other economic migrants from across the globe, with each successive human wave leaving its mark on the languages, cultures, customs and natural environment of this small, postcolonial ‘rainbow nation.’ On 12 March this year, Mauritius marked fifty years of independence from Great Britain, in a ceremony attended by heads of state, crowds of ordinary Mauritians – and me. Despite Mauritius’s inauspicious beginnings as an independent nation, post-colonial Mauritius has been widely praised for its ‘economic miracle’ and for the peaceful accommodation of its multi-ethnic population. Nonetheless, Mauritian literature – especially that written in the wake of the inter-ethnic ‘Kaya riots’ of 1999 – paints a rather different picture of the island-nation, marked by inequality, injustice, difference, division and violence. Given the diverse composition of Mauritius’ population (made up of Franco-Mauritians, Indo-Mauritians, Sino-Mauritians, Muslims and Creoles), Mauritian fiction is also centrally preoccupied with the question of what it means to be ‘Mauritian’ today: in other words, with the issue – or problem – of ‘belonging’.

What drew you to focus your research on Mauritian Literature and the notion of ‘belonging’?

My fascination with Mauritian literature was originally sparked, back in 2001, by a lively, wine-fuelled conversation with Mauritian academic, Kumari Issur, at an ASCALF conference in London. I had just presented a paper on Gallimard’s contentious ‘Continents Noirs’ series and Kumari recommended that I read Amal Sewtohul’s first novel, Histoire d’Ashok et d’autres personnages de moindre importance, which was about to appear in the same series, along with his compatriot, Ananda Devi’s Pagli. Numerous subsequent visits to Mauritius, meetings with Mauritian authors, impassioned debates with Indian Ocean academics, and continued voracious reading, often ‘hot off the press’, of the impressive stream of novels that have continued to flow from the tiny island-nation since, have merely confirmed my initial fascination with Mauritius’ culture, history, society and literature.

My interest in the notion of ‘belonging’ – a sense of attachment to, and identification with, a place or people – was prompted both by the thematic and stylistic recurrence of the notion in contemporary Mauritian literature and, more broadly, by the term’s paradoxical ubiquity and obscurity. Everyone thinks they know what they mean when they talk about belonging, but, as geographer Marco Antonsich points out, they ‘actually know very little about what belonging stands for and how it is claimed.’[1] I was keen to find out more. Whereas existing postcolonial paradigms, such as hybridity or créolisation, had already been fruitfully applied to the Mauritian situation, no one had yet taken belonging, or the ‘universal human desire to belong’, as the primary thematic and conceptual focus of study. As John Crowley points out, ‘while the term [belonging] itself is not new, it is little used as an analytical or theoretical tool.’[2] I was keen to rise to this challenge.

What makes your book stand out from others in its field?

My monograph is the first book-length study in English on twenty-first-century Mauritian fiction in French and as such, I hope, makes a significant contribution to the recent expansion of research on Indian Ocean cultures. The book is original in its focus on the under-researched, affective dimension of belonging (place-belongingness) and its intersections with the often brutal and exclusionary ‘politics of belonging.’ My chapter on Shenaz Patel’s Le Silence des Chagos, in which I explore the uses and abuses of competing notions of belonging in the UK’s forced expulsion of the Chagos islanders in the 1960s and 70s, should also be of interest to anyone following the latest developments in their long struggle for the right to return at the International Court of Justice this year.

My book develops a new, multidimensional approach to understanding issues of belonging and exclusion in diverse, multi-ethnic societies that will, I hope, be of interest to a broad academic audience than those already interested in Mauritian literature or Indian Ocean cultures. Through a series of close textual analyses of individual novels or pairs of novels by leading contemporary Mauritian writers, my book examines Mauritian literary responses to the inter-ethnic ‘Kaya’ riots of 1999 and to the problems of belonging and exclusion that they so dramatically exposed. And it does so by applying an eclectic range of theoretical approaches, not usually associated with ‘postcolonial’ texts, to the particular concerns of individual novels and chapters: violence, place, gender, displacement, the everyday, migration.

Your book is available Open Access, can you tell us why you chose to pursue this option?

In this, the 50th anniversary year of Mauritian independence (1968), there is intense international interest in post-independence Mauritian culture. There is also renewed interest this year in the plight of exiled Chagos islanders, as the Mauritian government challenges the U.K. for its illegal separation of the Chagos archipelago from Mauritius, prior to independence. My book is therefore timely and should, I hope, garner considerable international attention, including amongst readers in Mauritius, India, Africa and the Indian Ocean region. Open Access publication is thus ideal for making my book both logistically and financially accessible to these and other key readerships, both overseas and in the UK. I am therefore grateful to the University of Reading for their institutional support of the OA publication of my monograph – and to Liverpool University Press, Modern Languages Open and Oapen Library for making it happen.

[1] Marco Antonsich, ‘Searching for Belonging – An Analytical Framework’, Geography Compass, vol. 4, no. 6 (2010), pp. 644 ̶ 59; p. 644.

[2] John Crowley, ‘The Politics of Belonging: Some Theoretical Considerations’, in Andrew Geddes and Adrian Favell (eds.), The Politics of Belonging: Migrants and Minorities in Contemporary Europe (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1999), pp. 15 ̶ 39; p. 18.

 

You can find out more about the book here and read it for free here.

Liverpool University Press is a proud supporter of Open Access publishing with over 40 OA monographs currently available. You can find out more about our OA policy here and browse some of our OA titles on the OAPEN library

 

Follow us for more updates and sign up to our mailing list
News

Postgrowth Imaginaries now openly available on Modern Languages Open

Liverpool University Press is delighted to announce that the second monograph to feature on Modern Languages Open is Postgrowth Imaginaries: New Ecologies and Counterhegemonic Culture in Post-2008 Spain by Luis I. Prádanos.

Postgrowth Imaginaries brings together environmental cultural studies and postgrowth economics to examine radical cultural shifts sparked by the global financial crisis. The globalization of an economic culture addicted to constant growth destroys the ecological planetary systems while failing to fulfil its social promises. A transition toward what Prádanos calls ‘postgrowth imaginaries’—the counterhegemonic cultural sensibilities that are challenging the growth paradigm—is well underway in the Iberian Peninsula today.

Chloe Johnson, Commissioning Editor for Modern Languages, said, ‘We are very excited to be publishing a second monograph on Modern Languages Open. Open Access is something we are eager to support and I am thrilled that Luis’ book will be freely available on MLO.’

Luis I. Prádanos says, ‘Postgrowth Imaginaries pushes to enlarge the space of what is visible, thinkable, intelligible, perceptible, sayable, and, more importantly, desirable. I hope that if we persist in the construction of postgrowth imaginaries, we may eventually be able to displace the dogmatic neoliberal sequestration of reality and its monologic motto, ‘there is no alternative’. Politics, as Rancière insists, ‘replaces the dogmatism of truth with the search for conditions of possibility’. We desperately need to envision postgrowth imaginaries in which to invest our affects, identities, energy, and creativity. Our (good) life quite literally depends on it. Our lack of political imagination (or, more accurately, our obduracy in maintaining our attachment to the harmful growth imaginary) is undermining such conditions of possibility. My hope is that this book does its humble part in contributing to our communitarian and collaborative search for the conditions of possibility for socially desirable and ecologically viable postgrowth societies to emerge.’

On reviewing the book, Katarzyna Olga Beilin from the University of Wisconsin said “Prádanos’s book will become a necessary reference for all those who will subsequently write about post-growth, environmental studies in the Spanish/Iberian context and related subjects” and Luis Moreno-Caballud from the University of Pennsylvania said that the work “constitutes an urgent, enlightening, and empowering reflection about a crucial subject of our time”.

You can find out more about the book here and read it for free here.

Liverpool University Press is a proud supporter of Open Access publishing with over 40 OA monographs currently available. You can find out more about our OA policy here and browse some of our OA titles on the OAPEN library

Modern Languages

Comparative Literature Section Launch Issue

Modern Languages Open, a peer-reviewed platform for the open access publication of research from across the modern languages, has published the Comparative Literature Section Launch Issue.

This special issue has been compiled to mark the launch of the Comparative Literature section of Modern Languages Open, and includes original articles by Michael Cronin, Andrew Ginger, Florian Mussgnug, Francesca Orsini, Haun Saussy and Galin Tihanov. The authors were invited to identify a theme or issue facing the discipline of Comparative Literature today, and to explore it within a Modern Languages framework. Each piece can be read as a manifesto of sorts: posing new questions, sketching out new areas of enquiry, and suggesting new frameworks of thought. All are written as brief reports, designed to be accessible to undergraduate and postgraduate students of Comparative Literature, and hold the aim of stimulating fresh academic scholarship that engages with and builds on this set of original and dynamic ideas.

Contents:

Modern Languages Open Comparative Literature Launch Issue
Emma Bond

Comparative Study and the Nature of Connections: Of the Aesthetic Appreciation of History
Andrew Ginger

Multilingual Locals and Significant Geographies: For a Ground-up and Located Approach to World Literature
Karima Laachir, Sara Marzagora, Francesca Orsini

The Comparative History of East Asian Literatures: A Sort of Manifesto
Haun Saussy

Ferrying a Thinker Across Time and Language: Bakhtin, Translation, World Literature
Galin Tihanov

Planetary Figurations: Intensive Genre in World Literature
Florian Mussgnug

Translation Studies and the Common Cause
Michael Cronin

Browse the issue on MLO >

Modern Languages

Modern Languages Open: Italian Special Collection

Modern Languages Open (MLO), a peer-reviewed platform for the open access publication of research from across the modern languages, has published the Special Collection ‘Italy Made in Britain. Contemporary British Perspectives on Italian Culture’.

This special issue is about how contemporary Britain perceives and imagines Italy, and how it mirrors itself in Italy’s image. Access the complete collection here.

Contents:

Italy Made in Britain: Contemporary British Perspectives on Italian CultureGiacomo Comiati,  Martina Piperno,  Kate Willman

The English Way to Italian Socialism: The PCI, ‘Red Bologna’ and Italian Communist Culture as Seen through the English PrismMarzia Maccaferri

‘Like Romans Becoming Italians’: Italy as the Negative Paradigm for British Decline in the Language of the Press and Denis HealeyEttore Costa

Anti-Gay, Sexist, Racist: Backwards Italy in British News NarrativesDenise Filmer

Putting the Accent on Authenticity: A Case Study of Celebrity Chef Gennaro ‘Gino’ D’AcampoGeorgia Wall

Contemporary British Travel Writing on Italy and British Broadsheets: Tobias Jones, John Hooper and Tim ParksKate Willman

Whose Comatose Girlfriend? Figures of Crisis in Neoliberal ItalySerena Bassi