Vol. 6 No. 1 June 2022

Comparative Mobilities
Author:Ali Behdad, Dominic Thomas    Time:2022-06-20    Click:

Comparative Mobilities

Ali Behdad, Dominic Thomas

Page 038-051

Abstract: This essay explores recent incursions into comparative modalities and highlights how global comparative literature better reflects the ways in which borders and mobility have become defining elements of the 21st century. However, the humanities remain under attack. Recent openings towards decolonizing the curriculum and strengthening synergies between various social justice approaches may prove fruitful in coordinating defenses. Today, economic and historical circumstances are such that it has become increasingly hard to think of literary traditions in monolithic terms since globalization has dramatically transformed the circulation of literary works. In our understanding, a comparativist is not necessarily invested either in demonstrating the intrinsic connections between cultural or literary objects as traditional practitioners of comparative literature have been, or committed to disclosing incommensurable differences, as postcolonial comparativists have been. Instead, the comparative frame of mind is defined by the fundamental insight that any cultural product or production is inherently heterogeneous and hence requires no external object of comparison. Put otherwise, a comparative frame of mind does not require the co-presence of two or more cultural or literary archives in practicing comparative literature, for any single object can be read in relation to, or even against, its own context. Likewise, languages are not, and should not be considered monolithic entities. Rather, they are historical containers, mobile vessels that transport perpetually evolving references and symbols across borders, the portals and vectors that allow for multi-dimensional cultural and linguistic expression. We therefore argue that the persistent privileging of multi-lingual fluency as the raison d’être of comparative literature needs to be relinquished, and that instead one needs to embrace the idea that one can be a comparatist within a single language. In other words, we argue that comparison is as relevant within diverse national traditions as it is between them.

Keywords: global comparative literature, globalization, decolonizing, mobilities, multilingualism

Doi: 10.53397/hunnu.jflc.202201004

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