Scandalous Bodies is an impassioned scholarly study both of literature by diasporic writers and of the contexts within which it is produced. It explores topics ranging from the Canadian government’s multiculturalism policy to media representations of so-called minority groups, from the relationship between realist fiction and history to postmodern constructions of ethnicity, from the multicultural theory of the philosopher Charles Taylor to the cultural responsibilities of diasporic critics such as Kamboureli herself.
Smaro Kamboureli proposes no neat or comforting solutions to the problems she addresses. Rather than adhere to a single method of reading or make her argument follow a systematic approach, she lets the texts and the socio-cultural contexts she examines give shape to her reading. In fact, methodological issues, and the need to revisit them, become a leitmotif in the book. Theoretically rigorous and historically situated, this study also engages with close reading—not the kind that views a text as a sovereign world, but one that opens the text in order to reveal the method of its making. Her practice of what she calls negative pedagogy—a self-reflexive method of learning and unlearning, of decoding the means through which knowledge is produced—allows her to avoid the pitfalls of constructing a narrative of progress. Her critique of Canadian multiculturalism as a policy that advocates what she calls “sedative politics” and of the epistemologies of ethnicity that have shaped, for example, the first wave of ethnic anthologies in Canada are the backdrop against which she examines the various discourses that inform the diasporic experience in Canada.
Scandalous Bodies was first published in 2000 and received the Gabrielle Roy Prize for Canadian Criticism.
About the author
Smaro Kamboureli is Canada Research Chair in Critical Studies in Canadian Literature at the University of Guelph. Her publications include Scandalous Bodies: Diasporic Literature in English Canada, which won the Gabrielle Roy Prize, and, with Roy Miki, Trans.Can.Lit: Resituating the Study of Canadian Literature (WLU Press, 2007). She is currently completing a new edition of her anthology Making a Difference: Canadian Multicultural Literature.
Robert Zacharias is a postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies at the University of Toronto. His research interests include migration literature, Canadian literature (with a focus on Mennonite literature), 18th-century studies, and critical pedagogy. His work has been published in Mosaic and Studies in Canadian Literature, as well as in the edited collections Embracing Otherness and Narratives of Citizenship.
Other titles by Smaro Kamboureli
Possibilities of Justice in Canadian Literatures
All the Feels / Tous les sens
Affect and Writing in Canada / Affect et écriture au Canada
Inhabiting Memory in Canadian Literature / Habiter la mémoire dans la littérature canadienne
Beyond "Understanding Canada"
Transnational Perspectives on Canadian Literature
Editing as Cultural Practice in Canada
Indigeneity, Diaspora, and Ecology in Canadian Literary Studies
Producing Canadian Literature
Authors Speak on the Literary Marketplace
Shifting the Ground of Canadian Literary Studies
Nation-State, Indigeneity, Culture
Retooling the Humanities
The Culture of Research in Canadian Universities
My Beloved Wager
Essays from a Writing Practice