Bibliographic Narrative

As with the Hemispheric Studies bibliography, I began compiling the New Southern Studies/Global South bibliography by referencing the texts from the Southern Studies in the Americas FTE proposal. The bibliography that follows stems mainly from the works cited by those in the field attempting to define the contours of this critical turn in Southern Studies. Sometimes, the editors of these particular anthologies will cite texts from other anthologies that have already been included in the bibliography. Risking repetition, I still decided to include these particular articles on their own in order to highlight their prominence in these field defining articles.

Because I am less familiar with Southern Studies, I will summarize one article in particular as groundwork for future synthesis of this field in flux. In “Global Contexts, Local Literatures: The New  Southern Studies,” McKee and Trefzer introduce works that reconceptualize the field of Southern Studies as they demonstrate what this new scholarship should look like. Such a shift within the field of Southern Studies (newly termed New Southern Studies) begins with a groundwork consideration of the South as a porous construct, one that inflects and is inflected by the global. This shift constitutes a departure from notions of the South as an insular and contained space, with agreed upon cultural and geographical demarcations. In this recognition of the fluidity of geographical boundaries and of the idea of the “South” itself, scholars have considered and anxiously asked questions about the ever fluctuating contours of the field itself. For example, some scholars have opened the geographic terrain to consider the U.S. South as a northern extension of the Caribbean. Despite anxieties about the dimensions of the field, new dialogues, questions, and concerns emerge out of these crucial paradigmatic shifts—especially as they intersect with American Studies, Hemispheric Studies, Studies of the Global South, and Race/Ethnic Studies.

Compiling the bibliography proved to be considerable but productive task precisely because of the above anxieties and questions on the fluctuating boundaries of the field. In adding onto the list of works dealing with New Southern Studies, I found myself wondering about the parameters of what to include in a field that is being so productively deconstructed. For instance, because New Southern Studies seems to be a subset of the Hemispheric/Transnational/Global turn in American Studies proper, I wondered how I may be representing the dynamic relationship between the two overlapping fields by simply including, excluding, or doubling up certain texts. For example, what is being articulated by including the texts of Caribbean Studies in both bibliographies? This particular inclusion brings up a host of questions about how far (geographically and theoretically) can the field be expanded and boundaries pushed. As McKee and Trefzer have mentioned, scholars have begun to include texts under the rubric of “Southerness” that fall outside the regional, linguistic, geopolitical boundaries of the U.S.: “The ‘‘Southern’’ canon suddenly opens wide to include the literature of Latin America and South America, Mexico, the Caribbean, Cuba, and any other place in the global South. It makes room for writers and texts not typically part of the Southern literary canon, texts in French, Spanish, Portuguese, and other languages” (682).  Given this, I wondered if it would be fair game to include Latin American Studies itself as part of the New Southern Studies repertoire. To do so raises what seems to be precisely the questions contained within the Hemispheric South/s initiative itself: how do we articulate the contours of the field when we collapse the two lists? What kinds of ethical/political questions emerge from collapsing the two? What is at stake in attempting to keep the two fields separate?  And finally, from my own position in Comparative Race, Ethnic Studies, Postcolonial Studies, and Asian American/Native Am. Studies as part and parcel of the these fields under consideration: What are the particular parameters of inclusion within this bibliography given the context that these particular fields engage with dynamics, conditions, problematics loosely conceived of as engaged with discourses of the Global South?

By Nhu Le, UCSB 2010