Offering the first interdisciplinary study of refugees in the Caribbean, Central America, and the United States, Asylum Speakers relates current theoretical debates about hospitality and cosmopolitanism to the actual conditions of refugees. In doing so, the author weighs the questions of "truth value" associated with various modes of witnessing to explore the function of testimonial discourse in constructing refugee subjectivity in New World cultural and political formations.
By examining literary works by such writers as Edwidge Danticat, Nikòl Payen, Kamau Brathwaite, Francisco Goldman, Julia Alvarez, Ivonne Lamazares, and Cecilia Rodríguez Milanés, theoretical work by Jacques Derrida, Edouard Glissant, and Wilson Harris, as well as human rights documents, government documents, photography, and historical studies, Asylum Speakers constructs a complex picture of New World refugees that expands current discussions of diaspora and migration, demonstrating that the peripheral nature of refugee testimonial narratives requires us to reshape the boundaries of U.S. ethnic and postcolonial studies.
About the Author
April Shemak is an Assistant Professor of English at Sam Houston State University.