CFP: South Asian Representations in Twenty-First Century Southeast Asia (MLA 2024)

CFP: South Asian Representations in Twenty-First Century Southeast Asia (MLA 2024)

We invite paper proposals for a collaborative session between the South Asia and Southeast Asia Forums for the January 2024 Modern Language Association conference in Philadelphia. We welcome papers exploring how South Asia (as countries or cultures) or South Asians (as migrant, diasporic, or ethnic subjects) are represented in contemporary literature or film / visual media by authors and creators in twenty-first century Southeast Asia.

Our session extends and expands the work of earlier scholarship on South Asian diasporic literature, including groundbreaking monographs such as Yasmin Husssain’s Writing Diaspora: South Asian Women, Culture and Ethnicity (2005) and Vijay Mishra’s Literature of the Indian Diaspora: Theorizing the Diasporic Imaginary (2007). Recent special journal issues of Asiatic (2017) and South Asian Diaspora (2021) have included essays on a wider range of South Asian diasporic authors outside of Britain and the USA. However, with the exception of a few authors such as K. S. Maniam, Edwin Thumboo, and Preeta Samarasan, Southeast Asian authors of South Asian descent have not received much critical attention, especially those producing work in the past two decades. We are thus especially interested in papers that focus on literary or visual / filmic narratives by new or emerging authors and cultural producers.

Possible topics for discussion include (but are not limited to):

– cultural identities (migrant, diasporic, ethnic)

– class and labor

– gender and sexuality

– caste and religion

– critiques of racism and ethnonationalism

Please send 250-word abstracts and 100-word speaker bios, as well as any questions, to Weihsin Gui ( and Umme Al-Wazedi ( by March 13, 2023. Please note that speakers whose papers are accepted for this session will need to become members of the Modern Language Association by April 7, 2023 in order to participate in the conference itself.