"(Counter) Narratives of Migration" is the topic of our 25th Comparative Literature Intra-Student Faculty Forum (CLIFF). Organized annually by Comp Lit Ph.D. students, this year's CLIFF investigates the visibility, narratives, and media of migration. We will explore circulation in a variety of forms—bodies, ideas, and material goods—through its manifestations in the arts, critical theory, and new media.

(Counter) Narratives of Migration - Virtual Conference Day 1


Friday, May 14, 2021
10:00 AM - 10:15 AM
Opening Remarks: Professor Yopie Prins (Chair, Comparative Literature)

10:15 AM - 11:15 AM
Panel 1: Rhetorics and Visualizations of Migration
Respondent: U-M Professor Johannes Von Moltke (German and Film, Television, Media)

Matthew Liberti (U-M Ph.D. candidate, English Literature): “Italy’s Migration Question and Igiaba Scego’s Representational Politics”
W. Forrest Holden (U-M Ph.D. candidate, History): “Empire of Superstitions: Culture and Movement in Chulkov’s Dictionary of Russian Superstition (1782)”
Martin Ruiz Mendoza (U-M Ph.D. candidate, Romance Languages): “Depicting Exodus in Contemporary Latin America”

11:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Panel 2: Textual Migration and Cross-Cultural Circulation
Respondent: U-M Professor Maya Barzilai (Middle East and Judaic Studies)

Rachel Wilson (U-M Ph.D. candidate, English Literature): "Into the ‘Mouth of the Shark’: A Look at the public culture of Warsan Shire’s ‘Home’”
Berkay Uluc (U-M Ph.D. candidate, Comparative Literature): “Negotiating ‘the Arab Sciences’: The Politics of Aesthetics in the Late Ottoman Empire”
Dylan Ogden (U-M Ph.D. candidate, Comparative Literature): “Between Russia and the Imaginary West: Reading Alain Robbe-Grillet in Vasily Aksyonov’s The Burn”


(Counter) Narratives of Migration - Virtual Conference Day 2

Saturday, May 15th

10:00 AM - 11:15 AM
Panel 3: Gender and Migration
Respondent: U-M Professor Peggy McCracken (French and Comparative Literature and Women's Studies)

Rachel Stroup (U Maryland Ph.D. candidate, English Literature): “‘Ignorant of Our Standards’: Rhetorics of Anti-Immigration in Louise de Koven Bowen’s Safeguards for City Youth at Work and at Play (1914)”
Judith Popova (U Surrey Ph.D. candidate, English Literature): “The Female Stranger’s Experience of Mobility in the Post-War Climate”
Tomi Drucker (UM Ph.D. candidate, Comparative Literature): "A Whore with a Camera: The Marking and the Erasure of the Body of the Femina Sacra in Sharon Yaish and Yael Shachar's documentary film A Whore Like Me"
Amanda Ndaw (UM Ph.D. candidate, Romance Languages): “Female Agency in La Pirogue”

11:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Keynote Lecture: “Time, Sovereignty, and Refugee Writing”
U-M Professor Hadji Bakara, English Literature and Donia Human Rights Center
The birth of the modern refugee is nearly always told as a story of territory. This story is now familiar: World War I gave way to changes in the shape and character of the nation-state, radicalizing processes of exclusion and giving new meaning to territorial boundaries. Hannah Arendt famously linked this new nation form to the emergence of an entirely new category of human beings, migrants who could be housed or assimilated nowhere. These were the world’s first modern refugees. In this lecture, I argue that the territorial genesis of the refugee is only one part of the story. The global spread of the nation-state in the twentieth century transformed not only how territory was inhabited but also how time was inhabited and experienced too. I supplement and revise existing narratives by reframing refugee history through the politics and effects of time. I do so by examining a recurring figure found in the fiction, poetry, criticism, and theory of refugees over the last century: a refugee, real or imagined, who refuses to progress forward into citizenship, taking up a posture in time that is queer, backward, and anti-teleological. By willfully diverging from a “pathway” that would lead from refugeehood to citizenship this figure challenges a conception of time and futurity projected in the image of a single political subject (the citizen) and state form (the nation-state). Refugee writing, I argue, represents time as plural and non-sovereign, revealing the multiplicity of temporalities and futures lost to singular modernity of the nation.

12:30 PM
Closing Remarks

CLIFF 2021 Organizing Committee:
Luiza Duarte Caetano, Amanda Kubic, Julia Irion Martins, Marina Mayorski, Dylan Ogden