Post-Multicultural Writers as Neo-cosmopolitan Mediators

Post-Multicultural Writers as Neo-cosmopolitan Mediators

By Sneja Gunew

Anthem Studies in Australian Literature and Culture

‘Post-Multicultural Writers as Neo-Cosmopolitan Mediators’ is the first book to bring together global debates in neo-cosmopolitanism over the last decade and Australian minority writers, linking them to globalisation and transnationalism in cultural studies.

Hardback, 166 Pages


February 2017

£70.00, $115.00

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About This Book

‘Post-Multicultural Writers as Neo-Cosmopolitan Mediators’ argues the need to move beyond the monolingual paradigm within Anglophone literary studies. Using Lyotard’s concept of post as the future anterior (back to the future), this book sets up a concept of post-multiculturalism salvaging the elements within multiculturalism that have been forgotten in its contemporary denigration. Gunew attaches this discussion to debates in neo-cosmopolitanism over the last decade, creating a framework for re-evaluating post-multicultural and Indigenous writers in settler colonies such as Canada and Australia. She links these writers with transnational writers across diasporas from Eastern Europe, South-East Asia, China and India to construct a new framework for literary and cultural studies.

This book provides an overview of concepts in the field of literary and cultural neo-cosmopolitanism, demonstrating their usefulness in re-interpreting notions of the spatial and the temporal to create a new cultural politics and ethics that speak to our challenging times. The neo-cosmopolitan debates have shown how we are more connected than ever and how groups and geo-political areas that were overlooked in the past need to be brought to the center of our cultural criticism so that we can engage more ethically and sustainably with global cultures and languages at risk. In her wide-ranging study of world writers, Gunew juxtaposes Christos Tsiolkas, Brian Castro and Kim Scott from Australia with Canadian writers such as Shani Mootoo, Anita Rau Badami and Tomson Highway, connecting them to other Europeans such as Dubravka Ugresic and Herta Müller. [NP] This book analyses diaspora texts within neo-imperial globalization where global English often functions as metonym for Western values. By introducing the acoustic ‘noise’ of multilingualism (accents within writing) in relation to the constitutive instability within monolingual English studies, Gunew shows that within global English diverse forms of ‘englishes’ provide routes to more robust recognition of the significance of other languages that create pluralized perspectives on our social relations in the world.


"At a time when global media and markets give us the illusion of belonging to a shared world, the book acts as a sober reminder that the nagging question to the 'strangers', ... has shifted from 'where are you coming from?' to 'what do we do with them now?'"
—Chantal Zabus, "Recherche littéraire" Literary Research Vol 34 (Été 2018 / Summer 2018).

“Sneja Gunew reads post-multicultural literatures to examine the lives of those who risk an escape across razor-wired borders or who live in conditions of colonial occupation: the neo-cosmopolitans. Her questions shatter the familiarity of global English and unsettle the complacency of those who read and think within its hallucinated universality.”
—Margery Fee, Professor of English, University of British Columbia, Canada 

“It is minoritarian authors in their marginalized status who put into crisis the major concepts of national culture and globalization: this incisive yet capacious argument about cosmopolitanism is pursued here through an astonishing range of writings, from the northern to the southern hemisphere. Sneja Gunew’s book is one with which all future transnational literary studies will have to reckon.”
—Rey Chow, author of Not Like a Native Speaker: On Languaging as a Postcolonial Experience 

“Sneja Gunew takes us on a compelling elliptical tour of neo-cosmopolitan writers who force attention on alternative understandings of spatialities and temporalities that are urgently needed. This book will be of interest to social and cultural theorists who refuse to accept the ‘anti-multicultural’ politics that reject any recognition of differences that matter.”
—Anne-Marie Fortier, Professor, Sociology Department, Lancaster University, UK 

“This brilliant book zooms into the lifeworlds that are made manifest in migrant literature and zooms out to survey the widest possible horizons for living with difference. Once again Sneja Gunew’s writing takes us to the frontiers of cultural theory and diasporic cultural production; this time with the concept of cosmopolitanism she shines a penetrating light on the emergent forms of identity and the complex entanglements that are shaping the world.”
—Nikos Papastergiadis, Professor of Media and Communication, School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne, Australia

“Through insightful commentaries on marginal, indigenous, diasporic, migrant and refugee writings of world literature, Sneja Gunew, one of the finest readers of multicultural writing, makes the case that what was left out of multiculturalism was its cosmopolitanism, its ways of negotiating between national cultures and the planetary. This book is an exceptional corrective to the neglect of cosmopolitanism in theories of multicultural writing.”
—Vijay Mishra, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Murdoch University, Australia 

“This book offers a most timely reappraisal of (neo)cosmopolitanism, challenging existing theories with a new idea of the citizen of the world. Thoughtful and thought-provoking at once, Sneja Gunew’s exemplary readings of an astonishing array of literary texts make a powerful case for a more ethical engagement with global culture.”
—Helga Ramsey-Kurz, A.o. Univ.-Prof., Department of English, University of Innsbruck, Austria 

“Going ‘back to the future’ in order to reinsert the (neo-)cosmopolitan element that somehow went missing from multiculturalism when it was institutionalized in Canada and Australia, Sneja Gunew charts a new vision for world literature, at the same time speaking powerfully to the ethical challenges facing contemporary cultural politics.”
—Wenche Ommundsen, Research Professor, School of the Arts, English and Media, University of Wollongong, Australia 

“It is genuinely exciting to read this new book by one of the most important and incisive critics of Australian and Canadian literature today. Sneja Gunew brings her characteristically eloquent and erudite gaze to bear on the conceptual and practical schemas opened up by the frictions and overlappings of the domains of neo-cosmopolitan, post-multicultural and world literature. In the process she transforms these terms and the settler literatures to which she applies them. This book will become a necessary read for anyone working in the field.”
—Brigitta Olubas, Associate Professor of English, School of the Arts and Media, University of New South Wales, Australia

“This is a dazzling book. In theory it presents a polemical intervention in debates about neo-cosmopolitanism in contemporary literary and cultural studies. In practice it puts this theory to work in a series of readings that invite us to read, teach and critique across the emerging expansive field of planetary literature. Generally critics do one or the other of these things, but here Sneja Gunew creates conversations about the diverse 'English' accents that animate contemporary literature and theory.”
—Gillian Whitlock, Professor, School of Communication and Arts, University of Queensland, Australia

“Theoretically rigorous and compellingly personal, this is a comprehensive intervention in the interdisciplinary fields of mobility studies. Gunew’s rearticulation of an ‘acoustic cosmopolitanism’ is a particularly apt approach that reverberates across the many multilingual contexts of literary studies today.”
—Françoise Lionnet, author of Le Su et l’incertain: Cosmopolitiques créoles de l’océan Indien/The Known and the Uncertain: Creole Cosmopolitics of the Indian Ocean and Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures, Comparative Literature, and African and African American Studies, Harvard University, USA 

Author Information

Sneja Gunew has taught in England, Australia and Canada. She has published widely on multicultural, postcolonial and feminist critical theory.


Anthem Studies in Australian Literature and Culture

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments; Introduction. The World at Home: Post- Multicultural; 1. Who Counts as Human within (European) Modernity?; 2. Vernacular Cosmopolitans; 3. The Serial Accommodations of Diaspora Writings; 4. Indigenous Cosmopolitanism: The Claims of Time; 5. The Cosmopolitanism in/ of Language: English Performativity; 6. Acoustic Cosmopolitanism: Echoes of Multilingualism; Conclusion. Back to the Future and the Immanent Cosmopolitanism of Post- Multicultural Writers; Notes; Bibliography; Name Index; General Index.


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