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Personal Notes On A Diasporic Nostalgia

Elizabeta Šeleva, PHD, Faculty of Philology, Skopje,

selieva@ gmail. com · · · · · · · · · · · ·


In the midst of 20 century, both literature and movie production in USA was influenced by a specific artistic sensibility, called "on the road", a term derived from tthe title of a novel written by Jack Kerouac. It expressed the beatniks’ contempt for theeveryday - bourgeois, conventionaland routine existence, in favour of the open minded, self -examining "on the road" experience. In fact, this was the first emblematic appraising of mobility, nomadism and diversity - within (but, not outside) – a country with a widespread network of roads and highways. One of the distinctive features of the archetypical American mindset has always been the·enlighting experience·and open challenges of (road) travel. On the other hand, this dis/placing imperative happens to be of essential importance for the people who livie in diaspora – those who have chosen to ‘travel’ without ever returning·(or,going back) and who are therefore confronted with completely different and more complex life - opportunities!

This paper is dedicated to the recently reconsidered notion of nostalgia, first promoted and elaborated in the work of Svetlana Boym, as a double set of space and time. It conisders the ambiguous state of permanent "unhomedness", a concern shared with a larger group of authors, such as Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak, Julia Kristeva, Dubravka Ugrešić (to mention just a few). Svetlana Boym was diasporic writer and intelectual, originally born in Russia and later displaced in USA, where she spent most of her academic and creative life (before passing away last year, at the age of 56). She defined herself as "a voluntary diasporic subject" – and yet her most important contribution to literary criticism is "The Future of Nostalgia". Thus, the most intruiging question appears to be: what is the most effective way to apply diasporic "management" in terms of literature... Will it eventually concern itself with the seemingly old-fashioned, yet intimately powerful mode of nostalgic rememberance...·

Key words: nostalgia, diaspora, "on the road"·


Elizabeta Šeleva

Elizabeta Šeleva (b. 1961), Professor of Theory and Methodology of Literary Study at the Department of Comparative Literature (“Blaže Koneski” Faculty of Philology) in Skopje, Macedonia. Actual president of the Independent Writers of Macedonia and editor of the literary journal “Naše pismo”. Member of the Macedonian P.E.N. Centre. A professor at the School for Gender & Politics and a member of the Academic Board of the Centre for Gender Studies at the Euro-Balkan Institute in Skopje. A professor at the Ohrid Summer University, teaching the course “The Balkan Subject and His Genders” (2001). Expert adviser from Macedonia on the international project “The Image of the Other in Literary Education in South-Eastern Europe” (2001). Participator in the round table discussion on the subject of “Postcolonial Discourse and the Balkans” with Guayatry Spivak (Cultural Centre Točka, Skopje 8 July 2003).

Head of the scientific project “Double Otherness – the Gender Aspects of Balkanism”, FIOOM, Skopje, 2004 and 2005. Lecturer at the post-graduate courses “Feminism in a Transnational Perspective” of the Inter-University Center Dubrovnik (Croatia) in 2007 and 2008. Course director of the international school “Macedonian Cultural Identities” at “St.Clement Summer University”, Ohrid, 2011.

Published over 150 essays and 9 books (Comparative Poetics, 1996; Essays on Literary Theory, 1997; Culturological Essays, 2000; From Dialogism to Inter-textuality, 2000; Prisoners of the Day (newspaper columns), 2001; Open Letter, 2003; Home / Identity, 2005; The Home of Writing (2008), Heterotopy od Writing (2014). Translated from English (Judith Butler: Gender Trouble; Karl Popper: A Never-ending

Quest). Also, “Honey Lasso” (poetry book) by Ronit Bergman and “The Songs of Oprhea” by Hava Pinhas Cohen (poetry collection).

Fields of academic interest and research: post-colonial criticism (Balkan imagology), gender issues, contemporary Macedonian literature and visual arts, cultural studies (issues of identity, migration, otherness).

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