“Transnationalism” is currently in vogue in my field. The word is everywhere in conference proceedings, titles of edited volumes, CFPs. Of course, we are all supposed to be very much in favor, even though nobody knows what it really is. But the term seems to point to “open borders,” and we are all supposed to be very much pro-that.
The more lucid among us have begun to realize that the concept of a national literature was invented to support the nation-state. And people who specialize in national literatures only exist for as long as there is a need to keep alive the myths of the nation-state order. Of course, they still can’t go against the sacred cow of transnationalism but it’s cute to see them wriggle.
The answer that they have found is that well, we should all just specialize in literature as a transnational phenomenon. What will happen when the corporate university cancels their positions and hires one, single, and only specialist in “transnational literature” is not discussed.
I’m not usually possessed by a sense of a higher professional purpose. The whole point of me being a scholar is for me to live a comfortable life that offers as few distractions as possible from my enjoyments.
Recently, however, I have felt that a purpose has been forming itself almost against my will. I want people to stop reciting polite mantras and start thinking at least about this single issue. You know how we are. Censorship is fierce. Anything on a subject like this that departs from the party line by half a millimeter is simply banned.
I understand that one can’t stop liquid capital. But can’t we at least be a little bit critical of it? Can we at least not dismantle our own disciplines so eagerly in order to help it flow?