The obligation to migrate and the impulse to narrate: forced migration from the Caucasus to Ottoman lands in the Soviet literary imagination

ERI 144
Arts and Law, Lectures Talks and Workshops, Research
Monday 15th January 2018 (12:30-14:00)
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Centre for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies Seminar Series 2017/18

  • Speaker: Professor Rebecca Gould (University of Birmingham)
  • Title: The Obligation to Migrate and the Impulse to Narrate: Forced Migration from the Caucasus to Ottoman Lands in the Soviet Literary Imagination

All welcome!

This talk engages with literary renderings of forced migration from the Caucasus. Forced migration has shaped local histories and created diasporic identities for Caucasus peoples for centuries. Many of the narratives generated by the migration of Muslim mountaineers to Ottoman lands following the Russian conquest, and subsequently to Central Asia under Stalin, have linked the experience of displacement to broader patterns in Islamic history, including those epitomised by the hijra of the Prophet. The literary rendering of forced migrations from the Caucasus turns on questions of complicity and community, and reimagines anticolonial solidarity from the position of the displaced. The corpus of texts that I engage collectively suggests how the migratory experience constitutes an alternative to nation-based histories of place and undermines the colonial discourses of sovereign territoriality that continue to dominate political life in Caucasus and throughout the Islamic world today.