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Call for Papers: “Postcolonial Exiles”

Special Issue of The Journal of the Short Story in English 87 (Fall 2026)
Deadline for abstract submissions: 30 January 2025

Guest Editors

Vanessa Guignery, Christine Lorre, Kerry-Jane Wallart

Presentation

  • 1 Adrian Hunter, The Cambridge Introduction to the Short Story in English. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2 (...)
  • 2 Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism. New York: Vintage, 1994, xxvii. On the previous page, this mo (...)

This special issue of the Journal of the Short Story in English proposes to reconsider the notion of exile in postcolonial short stories. As noted by Adrian Hunter in The Cambridge Introduction to the Short Story in English, “the short story is, and has always been, disproportionately represented in the literatures of colonial and postcolonial cultures,”1 maybe because of a need to assert a distinctive literary identity that stands apart from the canonical forms of colonial empires and/or of a wish mimetically to reflect in a compressed form the alienating and fragmenting experience of colonisation and its aftermath. Postcolonial writers have therefore innovated in a number of directions, starting with the short story cycle, a practice of the genre negotiating disruption and reconfiguration which has been illustrated by such authors as James Joyce (Dubliners), Alice Munro (Lives of Girls and Women, Who Do You Think You Are?), Jamaica Kincaid (Annie John) or Julia Alvarez (How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accent). Exile has additionally been a recurrent concern in postcolonial and diasporic studies as the geographical displacement of individuals or groups entails an adjustment to a new place, culture and language as well as a re-assessment of the real or imagined homeland to which one may retain a sense of belonging and for which one may feel nostalgia (Jhumpa Lahiri, Shani Mootoo, Nam Le, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Romesh Gunesekera; see also Ben Okri’s stoku—a combination of story and haiku—entitled “Belonging”). Exile is, as Edward Said formulates it in Culture and Imperialism, an experience of “belonging to both sides.”2

  • 3 Nandini Das, “Exile,” Keywords of Identity, Race, and Human Mobility in Early Modern England. Eds. (...)
  • 4 Edward Said, “Reflections on Exile,” Reflections on Exile and Other Essays. Cambridge, MA: Harvard (...)
  • 5 Nadine Gordimer, “South Africa,” The Kenyon Review 30.4 (1968): 460.
  • 6 Edward Said, “Reflections on Exile,” 184.

Nandini Das notes that in classical Latin exilium or exsilium signified “the fact or condition of banishment” while in post-classical Latin, it also stood for “ruin, waste, and destruction.” The earliest uses of the term “exile” thus “highlighted the precariousness of the . . . identity”3 of exiled persons (101) and forbid any romanticization of individual experiences of exile; in Home and Exile, Chinua Achebe warns against the valorization of exiled writers and recalls how contemporary forced and oftentimes painful migrations need to be distinguished from cosmopolitan versions of exile. Stories of forced or voluntary exile often point to a fragmentation of the self and of one’s sense of reality, caused by what Edward Said, in “Reflexions on Exile,” calls the “unhealable rift [that is] forced between a human being and a native place.”4 The short story, which Nadine Gordimer called a “fragmented and restless form,5 may seem particularly relevant to mirror the experience of loss, dislocation and vulnerability that exile entails. Exile might be seen as the paradigm of a return of a haunting past which postcolonial authors face and express in various modes and literary veins, starting with the short story. There are many ways of connecting James Joyce’s description of the short story as exhibiting “scrupulous meanness” and Edward Said’s definition of exile as outlining “scrupulous subjectivity.”6

Contributors to this special issue are welcome to consider new configurations of exile through the prism of mobility studies and affect studies and to examine how the notion of exile relates to contemporary forms of refugee writing and to modes of eco-anxiety. What Glenn Albrecht called “solastalgia” to refer to the distress caused by environmental damage and the loss of the feeling of being at home in one’s environment was described by French philosopher Baptiste Morizot as “homesickness without exile.” Of interest are also the modes of experiencing and performing exile in the materiality of the body and the ways in which such embodied processes transfer into the form of the short story itself. Such cases raise the crucial question of the predicament of exilic isolation, and its potential collective value or at least, dimension. The issue is also conceived as an occasion to re-read a range of canonical short stories by such authors as Joseph Conrad, Katherine Mansfield, Jean Rhys, Mavis Gallant, and to re-assess their resonance in terms of contemporary theory, and legacy. The scope of the postcolonial perspective on exiles, which designates both an experience of loss and persons, is a broad one and may encompass relevant works by immigrant writers from the United States and the UK.

Expected Proposals

Topics contributors might discuss include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • exile and the short form

  • contemporary forms of exile

  • the figure of the exile

  • exile and vulnerability/precariousness/fragmentation

  • exile and creativity/agency

  • forms of exile (political, economic, environmental, emotional, intellectual…)

  • external exile (to another country) vs. internal exile (within one’s country); exiles and borders

  • performing exile

  • exile and the body

  • belonging and unbelonging

  • exilic lament in the short story

  • roots, rootlessness, re-routing

  • exilic wordliness and cosmopolitanism

  • exilic in-betweenness/liminality

  • speculative postcolonial short fiction describing experiences of exile; dystopian short fiction

  • short fiction as reactivation of Indigenous or non-European forms of storytelling

Practical Details

Proposals for papers in English (400 to 500 words) and a brief biographical note should be sent jointly to Vanessa Guignery (vanessa.guignery@ens-lyon.fr), Christine Lorre (christine.lorre@sorbonne-nouvelle.fr) and Kerry-Jane Wallart (kerry-jane.wallart@univ-orleans.fr) by 30 January 2025. The selected completed articles will be due by 30 September 2025.

Notes

1 Adrian Hunter, The Cambridge Introduction to the Short Story in English. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2007, 138.

2 Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism. New York: Vintage, 1994, xxvii. On the previous page, this monograph is described as “an exile’s book” (xxvi).

3 Nandini Das, “Exile,” Keywords of Identity, Race, and Human Mobility in Early Modern England. Eds. Nandini Das, João Vicente Melo, Haig Z. Smith, and Lauren Working. Amsterdam: Amsterdam UP, 2021, 101-08. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctv1t8q92s

4 Edward Said, “Reflections on Exile,” Reflections on Exile and Other Essays. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2000, 173.

5 Nadine Gordimer, “South Africa,” The Kenyon Review 30.4 (1968): 460.

6 Edward Said, “Reflections on Exile,” 184.

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