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21st-Century Life Narratives in Transit and Translation: Refugee Tales and Beyond

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Abstract

In the face of material and legal constraints for refugees to speak, their life stories are frequently facilitated by new networks of solidarity to protest hostile immigration regimes. These invariably complex constellations of telling – involving refugees, activists, lawyers, translators and go-between writers, among others – are haunted by scepticism over the question of who can speak as/for refugees and display elusive multidirectional linkages with earlier bodies of migrant literature. However, in the absence of rights and representation, life-writing offers an important site of refuge itself, resulting in innovative forms of fictional accommodation, emic and etic narratives, or auto- and heterobiography. Further mapping this growing network of what I call ‘hospitable form’, my talk will survey a broad spectrum of non-fictional to fictional(ized) life-writing, including of the multi-volume Refugee Tales (2016-21). I will then turn to a close reading of Behrouz Boochani’s prize-winning autobiographical account No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison (2018), with a particular view to the role of media and translation. I will argue that refugee narratives cover important new ground for life-writing while registering the impact of refugee systems, as an emergent body of work yet to be fully accommodated.

 

About Professor Doctor Jan Rupp

Having served as an interim professor at the universities of Frankfurt, Giessen, Heidelberg and Wuppertal, Professor Doctor Jan Rupp currently is coordinator of the Research Centre for the Study of Culture at the Justus Liebig University Giessen. Learn more about his research here.

Kategorie/n: Anglistik und Amerikanistik, Anglistik 5
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