EDST sessional/adjunct lecturers presenting at the 13th Biennial Conference of the Society for Multi-Ethnic Studies: Europe and the Americas (MESEA)

EDST sessional/adjunct lecturers presenting at the 13th Biennial Conference of the Society for Multi-Ethnic Studies: Europe and the Americas (MESEA)


Gabriella Maestrini (EDST sessional), Sharon Jarvis (EDST adjunct), and Vicheth Sen (EDST sessional) are participating as a panel in the 13rd Biennial Conference of the Society for Multi-Ethnic Studies: Europe and the Americas (MESEA) to be held on June 12-14 at the University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu, Finland. The conference theme is Moving Cultures, Moving Ethnicities. Information about the conference is available here: https://mesea.org/joensuu-2024/


Panel title: Three autoethnographic accounts from real, imagined, and phantasmagorial borders: Stories from Mexico, Turtle Island, and Cambodia


Panel abstract: Borderlands and borders exist not only because of their location or the bodies moving through real or imagined spaces, they also show up as interrelated stories through humor, translocal orientations and transnational mobilities. Delving into the history and formation of the Métis ethnicity between imperialist transnationals and Indigenous translocals raises consciousness for developing more equitable cultures. We are approaching place as an imaginary and belonging ‘from below,’ examining how place shapes and informs a sense of belonging in the context of transnational and translocal mobility. The three autoethnographic voices shed light on the impacts of locality on everyday life, identity, and sense of belonging of transnationally and translocally mobile individuals.


Gabriella Maestrini


Paper title: Rubble Humor in Mexico: Wandering Real and Imagined Borderlands as Comic Border Crosser


Abstract: My research takes place in the real and imagined “borderlands … where two or more cultures edge each other” … (Anzaldua, 1995, preface). Anzaldua marks the borderlands to Mexico as a space/ place of hybridity to challenge knowledge, social organization, hegemony, marginality, and marginalized voices (Aijazi, 2012). I devise borderlands not only because of their location or the body in this space but also what they open. Through a comic poetic inquiry, I walk the borderlands of Mexico to find rubble humor (Maestrini, 2022) around lived experiences in the actual ruins of recent earthquakes. Rubble humor is a form of post-disaster humor-in-the-making that challenges the creation of unnatural boundaries and borders to keep in, to keep out and to keep separated not only cartographically but also symbolically through humor.


While humor can liberate (Freire, 1992) to expand social, political, and cultural discourses, humor can also be used to border, exclude, render other within dominant narratives of land, belonging, and legitimacy. In Mexico, I wander the spaces of legitimacy and belonging as literal and metaphorical comic border crosser on the path of rubble humor. There, I draw on and I am drawn into stories that echo my own. I am a border crosser in spirit, skin, and experience, aiming to push the boundaries of our understanding of comic identities roaming in “the margins, crevices, and interstices (Gomez-Peña, 2000, p. 8), pointing to those who live the borders, to those whose bodies are made up of bordering, bordered and overlapping selves. Borders, real and imagined, are continuously crossed in humor to remind us that “Borders don’t mean much. They are someone else’s imagination” (King, 2020, p. 19).


Throughout the presentation, I will perform border poems of the bordering/bordered body through which humor can work the entanglements of dehumanization, disease, dis/ease and rebellion.


Sharon Jarvis


Paper title: A Métis Orientation: Fewer Paternal Transnationals and More Maternal Translocals


Abstract: As a Métis, I have “the experience of being in the place where the story exists is the transformative” (Marker, 2018, p. 462). We are an Indigenous Nation from Canada that formed in the eighteenth century through the offspring of the union between the paternal Europeans and maternal Indigenous on Turtle Island. I delve into this history and formation of our solidarity culture (Jarvis, 2023) as a means of consciousness raising for developing more equitable cultures. I employ an Indigenous methodology to decolonize through ceremony and through relational accountability (Kovach, 2010). Voices that help me form this autobioethnographical narrative come from all our relations (Wildcat, 2018) and it embodies an Indigenous Métissage (Donald, 2012), which weaves metaphor, history, and current reality. As an autobioethnograpic researcher, I am from the place and the community of my inquiries (Anderson, 2006). To raise this collective consciousness, I challenge the dominant notions of individual identity and belonging stemming from colonial tragedy that occurred because the collective of transnationals were imperialistic and hegemonic. The Métis were able to resist some of this domination in their formation as an ethnicity by the matriarchal and maternal Indigenous translocals who were deeply connected to place and family having a larger population compared to the patriarchal paternal Imperialist transnationals who were separated from place and family. Migration through this lens can only challenge the dominant notions of identity and belonging if within these cultures the number of the imperialistic orientation is significantly less and disconnected than that of the Indigenous orientation.


Vicheth Sen


Paper title: Transnational Mobility, Place, and Belonging: An Autoethnographic Account


Abstract: In The Belly of the Atlantic, an autobiographical novel by Fatou Diome, the novel’s main character Salie says about herself: “As I am a hybrid, Africa and Europe ask themselves confusedly which bit of me belongs to them,” and about her returning home (Senegal): “I go home as a tourist in my own country, for I have become the other for the people I continue to call my family” (Diome as cited in Pawlak & Goździak, 2020, p. 77). Diome/Salie’s pondering about her sense of belonging as an immigrant draws a parallel with my questioning about my own sense of belonging as a Cambodian and a Canadian residing in Canada. This autoethnographic inquiry explores my transnational mobility from Cambodia to Canada as an international student turned immigrant. Specifically, I examine how place shapes and informs my sense of belonging in the context of transnational mobility. I draw on Phùng’s (2020) conceptualization of place as socially configured for human social practices. Conceptualized this way, place “is not only a physical setting but can be a product of imagination as well” (Phùng, 2020, p. 219). As an imaginary, place not only highlights the practices, processes, and structures associated with a place, but it also evokes moments of affect and fields of emotions. Drawing on the work of Pawlak and Goździak (2020), I approach belonging ‘from below,’ and it means “a dynamic, processual, and socially and culturally constructed attachment to places, times, and communities” (p. 77). Belonging emphasizes “the everyday life dynamics of various attachments” and the subjective and emotional dimensions of feeling ‘at home’ (p. 87). This autoethnographic inquiry sheds light on the impacts of locality on everyday life, identity, and sense of belonging of transnationally mobile individuals, which is often underestimated in the transnationality/transnationalism scholarship.