Ypsilanti, Michigan 48197
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 second book, Uncommon Alliances: Cultural Narratives of Migration in the New Europe, builds on the earlier book by analyzing 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. While the European Union portrays itself as a beacon of democracy, diversity, and welfare, I theorize it as a "consensual empire" due to its continued material benefits from unequal power relations with former colonies, internally colonized minority groups, and discriminatory criteria for accession. I examine narratives of migration – in literature, film and performance art – that increasingly address their critique to the European Union, rather than any one of its individual member states, in terms of its treatment of borders, history, and prevailing figurations of political community.
I am currently researching the cultural legacy of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Founded in 1961, NAM, essentially an alternative vision of globalization, was a vast transcontinental alliance of anticolonial liberation movements and newly independent states, joined together by principles of nuclear disarmament, active peaceful coexistence, and respect for national sovereignty. NAM sought to forge a third-way alternative to the domination of world affairs by East-West conflicts, uniting “developing” countries across continents and political systems so as to gain global leverage. While recent scholarship has started to explore political, economic, and educational partnerships among NAM members, I am interested in the neglected history of literary, cinematic, and other cultural exchanges that reflected the values of the movement.
I am also editor of JNT: Journal of Narrative Theory, a refereed, international journal that showcases theoretically sophisticated essays which examine narrative in a host of critical, interdisciplinary, or cross-cultural contexts.