“In this talk I will focus on the figure of the migrant and the refugee as presented in contemporary media. I am interested in the continuities and discontinuities in the experience of migration from the nineteenth century to the present, particularly, though not exclusively, for vulnerable populations. I then attempt to connect that experience to challenges posed to us by environmental changes and vulnerabilities in the same time frame. The aim is to think through the figure of the migrant not just as someone who moves from one sociopolitical context–village, town, city, nation–to another, but to think through migrant experiences as they relate to larger planetary concerns.”
Author of Subject to Colonialism: African Self-fashioning and the Colonial Library (Duke University Press, 2001) and editor of Teaching the African Novel (MLA, 2009), Gaurav Desai’s latest book on narratives of Indian Ocean connections between Africa and India, Commerce with the Universe: Africa, India and the Afrasian Imagination (Columbia University Press, 2013) received the 2014 Rene Wellek Prize from the American Comparative Literature Association and was a finalist for the Bethwell Ogot Prize from the African Studies Association as well as the Asia-Africa Book Prize awarded by the International Institute for Asian Studies in Leiden.