Calls for Papers

Call for Papers for a Special Issue on “The Vietnam War and its Afterlife in Canadian Literature”

Canadian Literature seeks contributions for a guest-edited special issue on “the Vietnam War and its Afterlife in Canadian Literature.” As a descriptor, “the Vietnam War” signifies differently across spatial, temporal, and geographical boundaries. Some of its variants, metonymies, proxies, “sideshows,” and “postscripts” include: the American War in Vietnam, the Second Indochina War, the Cold War in Southeast Asia, the Secret War in Laos, the U.S. bombing of Cambodia, and the Cambodian Genocide. Collectively, these asymmetrical wars of empire contributed to the suffering of Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian, and Hmong people on a scale that Michel Foucault described in 1979 as “unprecedented in modern history.” These wars also disproportionately enlisted the labour of Black, Indigenous, and brown bodies to fight on the frontlines of the war in the name of securing the extractive economies of Southeast Asia for U.S.-led global capitalism.

Duffin’s Donuts in Vancouver, BC, run by former Cambodian refugees.

Canada’s involvement in the Vietnam War was marked by both complicity with and resistance to empire. On the one hand, Canada sent thousands of troops to Southeast Asia, provided the U.S. military with war material, and allowed the testing of chemical weapons on indigenous lands in Canada. On the other hand, Canada offered sanctuary to 30,000 U.S. war resisters and 60,000 Southeast Asian refugees, more refugees per capita than any other nation in the world. At local levels, Canadian groups mobilized in support of Southeast Asian refugees (e.g. Operation Lifeline) while others (the majority of the Canadian public polled at the time) were against the government’s asylum policies.

How might we begin to reconcile Canada’s humanitarian image of benevolence with its complicitous actions? How do the literary and cultural works that have been routed through Canada—including Denise Chong’s The Girl in the Picture, Kim Thuy’s Ru, Vincent Lam’s The Headmaster’s Wager, Madeleine Thien’s Dogs at the Perimeter, Dionne Brand’s What we All Long For, Johanna Skibsrud’s The Sentimentalists, Philip Huynh’s The Forbidden Purple City, Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer’s All the Broken Things, Tian Veasna’s Year of the Rabbit, Greg Santos’s Ghost Face, FONKi’s The Roots Remain, Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn’s The Making of an Archive, and Souvankham Thammavongsa’s How to Pronounce Knife, among others—engage with the recurring presence of the Vietnam War and its afterlife? To what extent does the Vietnam War as an imperial formation offer possibilities for rethinking the paradigm of Canadian literature as a field? How might this rethinking coalesce alongside contemporary movements in Asian, Black and Indigenous studies in Canada?

In particular, the journal welcomes bipoc, de-colonial, feminist, queer, trans, transpacific, and/or critical refugee studies approaches. Essays and contributions that blend the creative and the critical, as well as the theoretical and the autotheoretical, are welcomed and encouraged. Contributions need not be limited to the study of “literature” in its conventional sense.

Possible essay topics may include, but are not limited to, the following as they intersect with the theme of the Vietnam War and its Afterlife in Canadian Literature, broadly conceived:

  • The Vietnam War (or variant) as an unsettling method or analytic
  • Southeast Asian refugee memories, lifeworlds, and knowledges
  • Black / Indigenous / Asian formations of the Vietnam War
  • Soldiering, empire, and Canada as “minor empire”
  • Militarism, slow violence, and ecological aftermaths
  • Sponsorship, humanitarianism, and humanitarian violence
  • Canadian civility, complicity, and “quiet complicity”
  • Migrant affects: gratitude, anger, empathy, apathy
  • Aesthetics, form, multimedia, and art
  • Narratives of “good” and “bad” refugees
  • Resettlement in the rural versus the urban
  • French Indochina-Quebecois-Canada triangulations
  • Parallel imperial formations (e.g. wars in Korea, Lebanon, Somalia, Syria)
  • Refugee routes via militarized spaces (e.g. camps in the Philippines, Hong Kong, Canadian bases)
  • Spaces of refuge and carcerality: boat, camp, asylum, prison, deportspora
  • Sanctuary in relation to health, disability, and neurodiversity
  • Refugee patriots and complicities
  • Military industrial complex and war machines
  • Food cultures, memory, and community
  • Anti-racist, anti-colonial, bipoc solidarities and futures

All submissions to Canadian Literature must be original, unpublished work. Essays should follow current MLA bibliographic format (MLA Handbook, 8th ed.). Word length for articles is 7,000-8,000 words, which includes endnotes and works cited.

The journal recognizes that the current moment is full of challenges and precarities for the Canadian Literature community. We are open to considering submissions that go outside the bounds of conventional research articles, especially collaborative efforts and submissions from graduate students, early career scholars, artists, and members of the community. Please feel free to contact the journal editor, Christine Kim, at cl.editor@ubc.ca, or the special issue guest editor, Y-Dang Troeung, at y-dang.troeung@ubc.ca, to discuss ideas ahead of time. Submissions should be uploaded to OJS by the deadline of February 28, 2021. Our Submission Guidelines can be found at canlit.ca/submissions. General questions about the special issue may be directed to can.lit@ubc.ca.


EXTENDED: Call for Papers for a Special Issue on “Pandemics”

On March 11, 2020, the WHO officially declared the outbreak of COVID-19 to be a global pandemic. Similar to many other countries around the world, Canada closed its schools, borders, businesses, and other facilities and implemented measures such as social distancing and restricted gatherings as it tried to slow the spread of coronavirus and equip hospitals and other sites with sufficient amounts of personal protective equipment. Amongst other things, the pandemic has highlighted the challenges of balancing the physical and mental wellbeing of individuals and communities with the economic needs of individuals, families, and businesses. During this time, much of the labour of caring for the sick, elderly and other vulnerable populations, staffing grocery stores and meat production plants, harvesting crops, and delivering food has come from low-paid, racialized, and/or temporary migrant workers. And as we look towards the future, government and public health officials warn us that a second wave of the virus could take place since a vaccine has yet to be developed. The pandemic has dramatically changed our social and political landscapes; for example, we now routinely rely on new forms of technology to maintain intimate and professional relationships as we avoid physical contact with those outside of our ‘bubble.’

Photo by Laura Moss, Vancouver BC, April 2020

Over the past couple of months, our collective vocabularies have grown as we hear from public officials about the fact that we are now in ‘uncertain and unprecedented times’ and that we need to adjust to the ‘new normal.’ But what exactly do phrases like these mean? What role does storytelling play in dealing with the complexities of this moment? What historical precedents can we turn to? From Kevin Kerr’s play Unity (1918) to novels such as Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven and Larissa Lai’s recent The Tiger Flu and films like Don McKellar’s Last Night, Tony Burgess’ Pontypool, and Jeff Barnaby’s Blood Quantum, issues around pandemics, contagion, and quarantine are not new to Canadian culture. How can Canadian literary and cultural production help us understand this moment, our shifting realities, and changing national and global imaginaries? Can we historicize our current crisis by, for example, turning to earlier discourses of disease, outbreaks, and the disciplining of racialized and Indigenous bodies? What new global understandings can we gain by comparing Canada to other nations as we all respond to this pandemic? How does the current pandemic exacerbate the precarities of academic life in the humanities and beyond? How have writers and artists configured pandemics in the past? In the present?

This special issue invites contributions that reflect critically upon pandemics and Canadian cultural production, which includes literature and many other forms of cultural expression. We are particularly interested in submissions that offer new forms of cultural critique and that investigate the cultural logics of pandemics. Possible topics and themes may include but are not limited to:

  • Contagion, disease, and outbreaks
  • The problem of borders
  • Curtailment of transnational movement / migration
  • Rise in nationalism and a return to protectionism
  • Global capital and the postwar welfare state
  • States of vulnerability with regards to age, gender, sexuality, class, race, precarious and mobile labour
  • Dystopic imaginaries
  • Reimagining space and spatial relations
  • Affective dimensions of self-isolation and pandemics
  • Temporalities such as the COVID-19 timeline, times of emergency, fear of the future, nostalgia for pre-pandemic time, the unmarked sense of time during isolation
  • Racist group blame and the rise of anti-Asian violence
  • New forms of creativity and expectations of productivity
  • Online teaching and rethinking pedagogy
  • Social justice in the time of pandemic
  • Surveillance, technology, contact tracing, and public health
  • Narrative medicine, rhetoric of health and medicine, and medical humanities

All submissions to Canadian Literature must be original, unpublished work. Essays should follow current MLA bibliographic format (MLA Handbook, 8th ed.). Word length for articles is 7,000-8,000 words, which includes endnotes and works cited.

The journal recognizes that the current moment is full of challenges and precarities for the Canadian Literature community. We are open to considering submissions that go outside the bounds of conventional research articles, especially collaborative efforts. Please feel free to contact the journal’s incoming editor, Christine Kim, at canlit.editor@ubc.ca, to discuss ideas ahead of time.

Submissions should be uploaded to OJS by the deadline of October 30, 2020. Our Submission Guidelines can be found at canlit.ca/submissions.

General questions about the special issue may be directed to can.lit@ubc.ca.