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Rhodes > English > People > Academic Staff > Sam Naidu > Intersecting Diasporas


This project focuses on transnational subjectivities represented in literature of the African, Latin American and South Asian diasporas. Underpinned by foundational theories which view diaspora as a social category and transnationalism as a type of consciousness and mode of cultural production, its impetus is to explore imaginary constructions of similar and differing transnational migrant experiences, and to determine the value of representations of hybrid and fluid transnational subjectivities in an increasingly globalised world. Underlying the project is the view that critical appreciation of such fictional representations contributes to a more holistic understanding of the experiences and exigencies of diasporas in broader social and cultural terms. 

The basic tenet of intersectionality, which posits that oppression and discrimination are multidimensional, informs this project’s goal to examine various categories of transnational identities (such as race, class, ethnicity and gender), as well as systems of surveillance, policing and justice, which impinge on the migrant.  Insight into these categories and systems is necessary to resist the overlapping and intersecting structures which oppress and marginalise individual subjects and groups. To this end, the project seeks to examine how specific literary texts represent transnational or diasporic status as a specific stratum in contemporary social hierarchies. Contrapuntally, the liberatory and creative potential with regard to self-determination and hybrid cultural forms, which arise from diasporas, and which are often celebrated in these texts, will also be examined. 

The project will examine literature produced in the African, Latin American and South Asian diasporic contexts. Mainly, the project will utilise a comparative methodology which explores the respective literatures of these diasporas in relation to each other. The intention is to compare and contrast various transnational texts in order to describe the complex and paradoxical experiences of diaspora in a world of increasing mobility and de-territorialism, which yet, in certain locations, also faces increased regulation or prohibition of migration.

This project, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is located in the Department of English Literature at Rhodes University, South Africa.


Co-ordinator: Sam Naidu [Recipient Mellon Inclusive Professoriate Grant 2017 -2019]

Project Title: Intersecting Diasporas: A Comparative Study of Literature of the African, Latin American and South Asian Diasporas

Sam Naidu is an Associate Professor in the Department of English, Rhodes University, South Africa. Her main research and teaching interests are transnational literature, crime and detective fiction, and the oral-written interface in the colonial Eastern Cape. She holds a PhD on transnational feminist aesthetics in South Asian diasporic literature. She was the recipient of a Commonwealth Doctoral Scholarship in 2004 and completed her PhD at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, in 2006. Two recent publications are Sherlock Holmes in Context, Palgrave Macmillan (2017), and A Survey of South African Crime Fiction: Critical Analysis and Publishing History (2017).  She has also guest edited a special issue of Current Writing on South African crime fiction (2013) and of The Journal of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies (2016) on postcolonial and transnational crime fiction.* [see end for recent publication list]


Research Associate: Teresa Carrillo

Project Title: Nation Unbound:  Extra-territorial Governance and Citizenship in Greater Mexico (Book Manuscript)

Teresa Carrillo is a Professor of Latina/Latino Studies in the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University.  She earned her PhD in Political Science from Stanford University and teaches mainly undergraduate courses at SFSU, including Latino Politics, Mexican Politics and Society, Immigration of Latinos to the US, and Gendered Borders: Latinas and Globalization. She has published chapters and articles on Latinas and the Transnationalization of Domestic Service and Extra-territorial Governance in Greater Mexico. 

Collaborative Project with SN: Representations of diasporic subjectivities who resist anachronistic nationalist frameworks of citizenship and governance by embracing a hybrid or multiply located identity in the diasporic space (specifically, the Mexican diaspora in the USA).

Post-Doctoral Fellow: Andrea Thorpe

Project Title: Diasporic Subjectivities in South African Writing

Andrea Thorpe’s postdoctoral research builds on her doctoral dissertation which explored postwar South African writing about London. She is currently expanding and reworking this project into a monograph. She is also taking her research in a new direction by looking at the ways in which apartheid South Africa is figured in the texts and networks of black British writers during the second half of the twentieth century. While contributing to South African literary studies and literary historiography, her research reaches beyond its primary national context towards a timely recognition of South African literature’s intersections with other diasporic and transnational literatures.


Former Post-Doctoral Fellow: Marzia Milazzo

Project Title: Colorblind Tools: Narrating Racial Power in the Americas and South Africa (Book Manuscript)

Marzia Milazzo’s book examines colorblindness as an ideology, a legal doctrine, and a metaphor for the global attempt to render invisible “the colorline,—the relation of the darker races to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea,” which W.E.B. Du Bois in The Souls of Black Folk (1903) defined as the “problem of the twentieth century,” through the comparative analysis of Latin American, U.S., and South African literatures and scholarship. The book shows that colorblindness has far-reaching implications across disciplinary, historical, linguistic, literary, and national boundaries. 


PhD Candidate: Carol Leff

Project Title: The Afropolitan Flâneur: Literary Representations of the City and Contemporary Urban Identities in Selected African and Transnational Texts

Carol Leff investigates literary representations of the city and contemporary urban identities as embodied in and/or interpreted by the Afropolitan Flâneur. Of particular interest is how these individuals perceive their urban surroundings, how they influence their environment, and how it impacts upon them in turn. Afropolitan flânerie is about decolonising, re-centering and giving form to a dynamic urban African diasporic identity.


PhD Candidate: Sean James Bosman 

Project Title: Between Nationalism and Transnationalism: Ostracism from Diaspora Spaces in Selected South Asian, Latin American, and African Transnational Fiction.

Sean James Bosman is interested in the divisive effects of the upsurge in nationalist rhetoric on transnationals who find themselves ‘un-homed’ within their diaspora spaces. But rather than offer an extended victimology, his project intends to examine areas in which representations of such experiences intersect and where they diverge, to identify the solutions and possible responses contemplated by selected African, Latin American and South Asian authors.                 



1.      IDG Online:

The Intersecting Diasporas Group profile has been posted online on various internet-based platforms. These include the Rhodes University Department of English website and ResearchGate, which feeds into the ORCID platform [orcid.org/0000-0001-9456-8657]. This online presence makes it possible for interested researchers and scholars to access articles, colloquia, and conference inputs generated by the IDG. It also makes it possible to follow the progress of the project. Researchers interested in contacting the group for collaboration are also able to do so through the ORCID and ResearchGate platforms. 

Members of the IDG collaboratively maintain electronic records of group activities in a designated DropBox account.  

In August 2018, Prof Carrillo will visit the IDG in Grahamstown. Workshops, research seminars and a colloquium are planned. The ISER will jointly host Prof Carrillo.


2.      Sam:

  • Submitted: “Migration and the Short Story”. The Edinburgh Companion to the Short Story in English, Edinburgh University Press [forthcoming]
  • Submitted: “Negotiating Home-Homeland through Life-Writing: An Analysis of Selected Life-Writing by Women Writers of the South Asian Diaspora”.  Beyond Trishanku: Diaspora Poetics and Homing in South Asian Women’s Writing. Ed. Daithota, Shilpa Bhat, Department of English, Ahmedabad University, Gujarat, India. [under review]
  • Submitted collaborative article with Andrea Thorpe: ‘“I don’t belong nowhere really”: The Figure of the London Migrant in Dan Jacobson’s “A Long Way from London” and Jean Rhys’ “Let Them Call It Jazz”’ to the journal Crossings. Also presented at English Academy of SA conference in Sept 2017.
  • Collaborative project with Teresa Carrillo. Article to be written during residency at SFSU.  During residency will also participate in Prof Carrillo’s Gendered Borders:  Latinas and Globalization course.  For my seminars I will focus on The Physical and Psychological Borders of Urrea’s Into the Beautiful North: literary explorations of gender stereotypes.


3.      Andrea:

  • Written a conference paper: “Transnational Networks in South African Writing in London: Peter Abrahams” which was presented at a colloquium on Cultural Solidarities: Colonial Modernity, Anti-Apartheid and World-Making Networks at WISER, 02-05 April.
  • Completed collaborative article with Sam Naidu: ‘“I don’t belong nowhere really”: The Figure of the London Migrant in Dan Jacobson’s “A Long Way from London” and Jean Rhys’ “Let Them Call It Jazz”’. To be presented at English Academy of SA conference in Sept 2017 and for journal publication.
  • Drafting PhD thesis into monograph. Proposal has been drafted, to be sent to publishers for review.
  • Two journal articles submitted for publication, one accepted, one under review:


      “‘Telling Freedom’ or ‘Telling the Spades Back Home How to Behave’: Re-Examining Peter Abrahams’s Writing         in London”, English in Africa, Volume 45 Number 1, April 2018.

      Under review:

       “The ‘pleasure streets’ of exile: Queer subjectivities and the body in Arthur Nortje’s London poems” (Submitted to        Journal of Literary Studies)

  • Carried out archival research at the London Metropolitan Archives which will form the basis of a chapter in an edited collection on Todd Matshikiza.


4.      Carol:

  •  Written a draft of Chapter One of PhD thesis.
  • Submitted an article to Journal of African Studies – “The Afropolitan Flaneur: A Pigment of the Imagination”
  • Sent a conference proposal “The Afropolitan Flâneur: A Case of 'Ostentatious Inaction'?” to conference Rethinking the Afropolitan, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts.
  • Chapter Two of thesis is progressing steadily.
  • Prepared a paper titled “Walking through it: Re-defining an African Cosmopolitanism” to be presented at the English Academy conference in September, and later to be submitted for publication.
  • Preparing a paper titled “Novel Choreographies of the City: Vladislavi?’s ‘Joburg and what-what’” for Rhodes English Department seminar on 23 August 2017.
  • Sent off an abstract for an article titled “Walking in New Spaces: The Afropolitan Flâneur in Teju Cole’s Every Day is for the Thief” for a Bloomsbury edited collection on Afropolitan Literature as World Literature.


5.      Sean:

  • PhD proposal – submitted to and accepted by the HHDC on 29 May 2017.
  • First Draft of Chapter One – submitted on 7 August 2017.
  • Currently working on Chapter Two.
  • Teaching the final term of the English 3 elective: "African-American and African Literature in Dialogue".


6.      Teresa:

  •  Collaborative project with SN:  Representations of diasporic subjectivities who resist anachronistic nationalist frameworks of citizenship and governance by embracing a hybrid or multiply located identity in the diasporic space (specifically, the Mexican diaspora in the USA).  This study will be based on selected literary works which depict the Mexican diaspora in the USA e.g. Graciela Limon’s The River Flows North (2009).
  • Teresa plans to visit the IDG in Grahamstown in 2018.  The visit will include workshops, seminar presentations and a colloquium.


7.      Marzia:

  • Completed manuscript of monograph: Colorblind Tools: Narrating Racial Power in the Americas and South Africa.
  • Wrote a paper “Racism Must Fall: Decolonizing the South African University,” which she presented on 01 April 2017 at the 17th Annual Africa Conference at the University of Texas at Austin.
  • Marzia won a selective contest to teach a university-wide course on the politics of race and place in South Africa, US, and Brazil in Spring 2018 at Vanderbilt University.
  • Collaborative Project with SN: Completed research for a co-authored article titled “Detecting White Injury: Deon Meyer’s Benny Griessel and the Crisis of White Masculinity in South African Crime Fiction”.

Last Modified: Thu, 28 Sep 2017 08:54:01 SAST