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Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies (CCLPS)

Ms Rasha Chatta

BA (Paris), MA (London)


Rasha Chatta
Ms Rasha Chatta
Email address:
Thesis title:
The Itinerary as a Mode of Existing: Narratives of Wanderers in Contemporary Migrant Literature
Year of Study:
Internal Supervisors

PhD Research

Migrant literature, migrant writing, immigrant literature, Multi-/Trans/Interkulturalität, multicultural literature, hybrid writing, these are some of the terms one may encounter when exploring the field of migrant literature. Unlike other disciplines, humanities have not concerned themselves directly with the research questions dealing with migration as a significant and increasingly influencing factor, whether it concerns the author, the subject tackled or whether it corresponds to the conditions in which a work has been created (Russell King, 1995). Denominations such as those enumerated above have been imposed and accepted in the field of literary criticism as synonymous with migrant literature without however being always clearly defined and without taking into account the nuances that these labels entail (cf. for example the introduction of a new terminology in Quebecois migrant literature: Robert Berrouët-Oriol, 1986). The outlines of what was unanimously accepted as ‘migrant literature’ in the 1980’s appear to be permeable when applied to the corpus of contemporary texts.

Critical attempts to address these seminal questions have clearly articulated the need to reconsider the terminology related to migrant literature and I propose to introduce a sub-category within migrant literature that places an emphasis on the individual dimension.

My project will ultimately posit and outline the possibility of a trans-national, translational poetics of ‘errance’ (Edouard Glissant, 1990), bringing the rigour of textual analysis (in the practices of comparative literature) to bear on existing interdisciplinary approaches (as called for by Spivak, Apter, Damrosch and others), particularly when it comes to the study of non-European literary traditions. Beyond the different backgrounds of authors, the various settings of narratives, and the differences of cultures and languages, it is crucial to examine the figure of the main character’s line of thought: one can catch the glimpse of the phenomenological poetics of an individual quest for a way to exist, positioning the character in a dialectical relationship between the self and the world. The act of writing implies immediately adopting a position in relation to the world and to one’s self. Following the recent theoretical debates on World Literature, I hope to demonstrate that there is a link to be forged between the works of authors who may not have much in common except belonging to what is labeled ‘migrant literature’.

My project represents therefore an intervention in the multidisciplinary field of Migrant Studies and Migrant Literature as it takes it away from a monothematic focus on migration and rather focuses on the relation between peripatetic modes of existence, space, language and the individual agency.

PhD Conferences

  • Chatta, R. Re-examining the national between migrant literature and world literature. SOAS "World Literature Conference: Networks of Circulation”. London, 13-15 Dec 2012
  • Chatta, R. Considerations toward a critical remapping of the field of Migrant Literature through the example of Arab migrant writing. BCLA Graduate Reception. London, 21 March 2013
  • Chatta, R. Marginality and individuation: toward a literary critical approach to migrant literature. BCLA XIII International Conference: "Migration". University of Essex, 8-11 July 2013