Sneak Peek 14: Shastri Akella

Migratory Aesthetics: Translating the Language of Migration

Shastri Akella

University of Massachusetts (Amherst)

Abstract: Migration is an act of transition and yet representations of the act often concern themselves with the specificity of place: homeland, borderland, destination. Migratory aesthetics, however, draw not so much from place/language in isolation as from the act of juxtaposition: hybrid art that builds from a plurality of places/languages that the artist has inhabited, traveled to, or been influenced by so that multiple landscapes and languages become each other’s context and subtext in the portrayal of the migration experience.

Migratory aesthetics work, as Canclini points out, the way metaphors do in language, enacting a movement that produces a dynamism of meaning. The paper is a comparative study of contemporary works by artists whose experiences of mobility across borders (internal, national, transnational) encompasses a spectrum of origins (economic migrations. second-generation immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers). The paper’s purpose is to show that through a schematic arrangement of sensory details, auditory and visual—still, moving—migratory aesthetics enacts an intersemiotic translation that makes the condition specific to migrants accessible to a broader audience.

Keywords: translation for migration, intersemiotic translation, migratory aesthetics, refugee art, cultural translation, migrant narratives

Bio: Shastri Akella is a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature and Translation at the University of Massachusetts (Amherst). He recently defended his comprehensive exams, and is on track to be film certified and interpretation certified. He recently presented at NeMLA and ACLA, and his areas of interest include cultural translation, migratory art, and children in horror films. He previously earned an MFA in creative writing where he wrote a novel that is currently on the market. His work is forthcoming in Guernica.