Ypsilanti, Michigan 48197
I teach postcolonial and global literature. My research interests include:
My first book, Narrating Post/Communism: Colonial Discourse and Europe's Borderline Civilization, focused on (post)communist Eastern Europe as a proto-colonial space, showing how discourses supporting transitions to global capitalism and liberal democracy hinged on an Orientalist stigmatization of communist regimes and Eastern European cultures. I analyze literary texts by anti-communist dissidents and exiles who present themselves as both "Eastern" and "Western" to their audiences, both internalizing and criticizing this Orientalist discourse of inferiority. My new book, Uncommon Alliances: Cultural Narratives of Migration in the New Europe, builds on the earlier book by looking at the contemporary uses and meanings of the idea of Europe, especially in the post 9/11 context of the "war on terror" and growing fears of immigration in the European Union. Although the European Union portrays itself as a beacon of world peace, tolerance and welfare, I argue that it should be theorized through the lens of neocolonialism due to its continued material benefits from unequal power relations with former colonies, virtual pockets of internally colonized minorities and discriminatory criteria for accession. These reflect established colonial assumptions about civilization, rule of law and development. I look to narratives of migration – literature, film and performance art – that hold up a mirror to Europe's confrontation with that part of itself perceived as unclean, dysfunctional or in some other way "other" because it thwarts desired economic and democratic progress.