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Roundtable on Migrant Literature

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LSE Literary Weekend/ Migration Studies Unit/ Forum for European Philosophy/ POLIS event

Date: Saturday 28 February 2009
Time: 5.15pm
Venue: Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building
Speakers: Kapka Kassabova, Mustafa Kör, Naema Tahir
Chair: Professor Luc Bovens

The migrant intellectual, writes Edward Said, has 'double perspective'. He or she is in a constant dialogue with his or her old and new home. Their writings often convey both a sense of loss and yearning but also display a richness wrought by the integration of multiple cultural identities, unique experiences and diverse modes of expression.

These authors will explore what is it like to be migrant writers in their respective societies-what are the points of divergence, what are the commonalities? The authors will be invited to start off the evening by reading short excerpts from their work that typifies their own experiences as migrant authors. We will then explore some of the following questions in a roundtable discussion. What modes of expression have migrant writers found to intermediate between where they came from and what they are confronted with in European cultures? What impact does the work of migrant writers have on the politics of multiculturalism in their respective societies? Are the political conditions in their respective countries supportive of artistic work by migrant authors? What explains the interest of the public in migrant literature in contemporary society? How is the work of migrant writers received in their countries of origin?

Kapka Kassabova was born in Bulgaria in 1973 and learned to speak English at the age of 16 when her parents emigrated to New Zealand. She spent time in Buenos Aires, Marseille and Berlin, before settling in Edinburgh, and is the author of two novels, four poetry collections and a couple of travel guides. Her memoir of childhood in Bulgaria, A Street Without a Name, is published in paperback by Portobello Books in February 2009. For more information see www.kapka-kassabova.com 

Mustafa Kör was born in Turkey and emigrated to Belgium when he was three years old. He published his first novel De Lammeren (The Lambs) in 2007 and received the El Hizjra Prize of Literature for Uitverkorene (The Chosen).

Besides regular appearances on radio and TV and writing for newspapers and compilations, Naema Tahir has authored three books. A muslimwoman unveils (2005) deals with the effects of migration on the rights of Muslim women. Its impact on the Dutch migration debate was widely recognised, turning Tahir into a frequent debater in Dutch and Flemish media. She was lauded for her best-selling Prized Possession (2006), which describes the largely sexual strategies of three Pakistani women towards achieving autonomy and dignity. She earned a scholarship from the Dutch Society of Authors. Her novel Lonelinesses (2008) tackles the struggle for identity in a radicalising family of immigrants, giving further proof of Tahir's sharp-eyed and humoristic observation. Het most recent novel Little Green Riding Hood and the Converted Wolf, was launched in October 2008 and received extremely well in Belgium and the Netherlands. This book of political fairy tales deals with morality amongst Muslims.

The event is co-organised by Professor Luc Bovens (LSE) and Stefanie van Gemert (UCL) and co-sponsored by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Van Gennep Publishers, Portobello Books, the Migration Studies Unit, and the Forum for European Philosophy.

This is part of the LSE Space for Thought Literary Weekend, the LSE's first ever Literary Festival, celebrating the completion of the New Academic Building.


A podcast of this event is available to download from the LSE public lectures and events podcasts channel. 

Media queries: please contact the Press Office if you would like to reserve a press seat or have a media query about this event, email pressoffice@lse.ac.uk