Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A Postcolonial Studies Conference, and the Rising Literary Profile of Third Culture Kids

I had to make some tough choices this year: budgets (academic, personal) get trimmed and trimmed and time (work, children) gets tighter and tighter.

I could only afford to go to ONE conference this year, and it was going to have to be Stateside. 

This forced me to do something I need and want to do, but often find difficult:
talk to literature scholars (who have generally never heard of TCKs before) about TCKs , as opposed to talking to TCKs about literature for organizations like FIGT (everyone there has at least heard of literature). 

This has, in the past, been a bit like sales: "Please buy this concept!  I swear to god, I did not make it up!  Look, here are dozens of Psych folks who do work on this.  Third Culture Literature is a thing.  It is!  Really." (*audience of literary critics with PhDs look distractedly at their doodles and phones, absorbing little of my urgency*)

I was fortunate to have a paper accepted by the British Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies Conference in Savannah, GA.  And I went, happily, with my Third Culture Literature pitch and argument about third culture novelist DBC Pierre's multiple points of view.

Well, first, Savannah was lovely!  All of those verdant garden squares and cobbles.  All of the spanish moss.  All of the SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) buildings!  Just lovely.

And second, the keynote speaker did the hardest part of my work for me.

Edwidge Daniticat spoke the evening before my paper, to a large group of literary scholars.  She climbed the podium, leaned into the microphone and said "The title of my talk (I had to write something down because I couldn't memorize it all) is James Baldwin, Refugees and My Third Culture Kids."

(*Antje, still weebly from the overnight train jerks upright and has a full on "OMG did she just say that??" gawp *)

Danticat did say it, and she did mean it too.  And after her talk I skipped through Forsyth Park, elated that "third culture kids" is mainstreaming as a concept.   Someone else said those words, and didn't add a sales pitch.  She just assumed we saw that Third Culture is a thing, and a Thing with literary implications, connections and contexts.


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