A new look at life in the diaspora

Elahe Haschemi Yekani Photo: Jennifer Sanchez

Elahe Haschemi Yekani Photo: Jennifer Sanchez

Elahe Haschemi Yekani receives European Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council

Elahe Haschemi Yekani has received a Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) for her project "Tales of the Diasporic Ordinary. Aesthetics, Affects, Archives", which deals with everyday narratives of the diaspora. The Professor of English and American Literature and Culture is Executive Director of the Institute of English and American Studies at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, where she researches and teaches with a focus on postcolonial studies.

Prof. Christoph Schneider, Vice President for Research at HU: "I am very pleased for Professor Haschemi Yekani, whose outstanding research work is confirmed and further strengthened with this funding. The analysis of art and literature can change the view of how people perceive themselves in diverse and heterogeneous societies. The award is also a badge and further incentive for dedicated research and teaching at the Institute of English and American Studies at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin."

Narratives of the Diaspora

As part of the project, Hashemi Yekani examines narratives produced by people living in the diaspora. Works by migrant, non-white artists are predominantly associated with labels that lift them out of society. This understanding favours generational models such as the Windrush generation (migrants from the Caribbean between 1948 and the early 1970s) in the UK, the so-called Gastarbeiterliteratur in Germany, but also ethnic and area studies in the US. Such labels reinforce an understanding of migration as the result of exceptional circumstances, such as the so-called refugee crisis in 2015.

The project "Tales of the Diasporic Ordinary" asks what happens when we instead apply a "normalising" perspective to contemporary literature and art in the diaspora. The project thus disrupts models of national canon formation and considers (queer) diasporic artistic practices and aesthetics as interwoven with post-World War II global histories, the decline of empire, neo-imperialism and the recent rise of the New Right.

One hypothesis of the project is that artistic practice can acknowledge negative effects and contribute to a new notion of community that goes beyond national and heteronormative constraints. Thus, the project highlights the importance of everyday narratives of diaspora in addressing racism and promoting new forms of belonging.

About the ERC Consolidator Grants

The prestigious grant is worth up to two million euros and is awarded by the European Research Council to top researchers in Europe who are pursuing potentially groundbreaking projects in basic research.

About the person

Elahe Haschemi Yekani has been Professor of English and American Literature and Culture with a focus on Postcolonial Studies at the Institute of English and American Studies at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin since 2017. Previously, she was Junior Professor of English Literature at the European University of Flensburg. After her doctorate at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, research stays and positions took her to New York University (USA), the University of Potsdam, Leopold-Franzens-Universität Innsbruck (Austria) and the Kulturwissenschaftliches Kolleg Konstanz.

Her research interests include the Anglophone novel from its beginnings to the present with a special focus on Black Atlantic and diasporic writing, postcolonial studies, visual culture, memory culture and the archival turn, queer theory and intersectionality. In addition to numerous articles and the two monographs Familial Feeling: Entangled Tonalities in Early Black Atlantic Writing and the Rise of the British Novel (Palgrave Macmillan 2021, open access) and The Privilege of Crisis. Narratives of Masculinities in Colonial and Postcolonial Literature, Photography and Film (Campus 2011, awarded the Britcult Award 2009), a third book, co-authored with Magdalena Nowicka and Tiara Roxanne, has recently been published on Revisualising Intersectionality (Palgrave Macmillan 2022, open access). This is the conclusion of

In addition, she is currently leading a project on "Re-Imagining the Archive: Sexual Politics and Postcolonial Entanglements" together with Silvy Chakkalakal (Humboldt University, European Ethnology), funded by a Princeton-HU Strategic Partnership Grant.

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