What is enacted by mobilising the category “migrant” as an adjective qualifying writing and expression?

Nominal categories imply the possibility of identification. They function with the sort of restrictiveness of a passport, conditioning boundaries, defining where and how movement is possible, preventing critical and historical enquiry from straying across the frontiers of contemporary social policy designations. Thinking about plural expressivities means also resisting the tendency to delineate contemporary migrants from earlier categories of displaced peoples, for whom paradigms of emigration, settlement, exile, and expatriation have been predominant. It means engaging in historical study into the formation of new cultural identities and expressions within migrant and settler communities, particularly in North Africa in the 19th and 20th centuries. It means questioning the categories of expatriate or postcolonial cultural production, asking not so much what characterizes “migrant literature” as how do individuals today and in the past whose experience has been marked in vastly divergent and multiple ways by the process of uprooting, give form to that experience through the written, spoken or drawn word. It means also bringing this critical reflection into spaces where it can contribute to the on-going production of new forms for our time, this age of migration.

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