Carrie Dawson teaches Canadian literature at Dalhousie University. Her recent scholarly work focuses on the representation of refugees and undocumented people in contemporary Canadian literature and culture.
Carrie is the author of “Treaty to Tell the Truth: The Anti-Confessional Impulse in Canadian Refugee Writing.”
By necessity, refugees are storytellers. When seeking refugee status in Canada, they are asked for particular kinds of stories. Indeed, their well-being often hinges on their ability to tell verifiable stories of persecution in a manner that satisfies the state. But those who get refugee status also get called upon—by the media, the academy, and the publishing industry—to repeat those stories, offering confessional accounts that can be put in the service of first-world catharsis or of “an idealized form of Canadian multiculturalism” (Granados). With that in mind, this paper seeks to understand and underscore the anti-confessional impulse in creative writing by former refugees.
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