Events Calendar
Feb 8
17:00 - 18:30
Indo-Argentine Modernist Networks: Tagore, Victoria Ocampo, and South-South Solidarity
Centre for Modern European Literature Seminar
Dr Patricia Novillo-Corvalán (Department of Comparative Literature)

Abstract: This paper explores the cross-cultural relations between countries located in the (so-called) global south, focussing on India and Argentina through the nexus between the Bengali author, artist, and educationalist Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) and the Argentine writer, publisher, and feminist Victoria Ocampo (1890-1979). Originally coined in what has been recognised as the first Asian-African conference held in Bandung (Indonesia) in 1955, the geopolitical phrase global south, I suggest, is of extreme relevance to the recent transnational 'turn' in literary studies that has problematised Western-centric paradigms by foregrounding less-studied geographical areas across the globe. Although the Tagore-Ocampo meeting predates the Bandung conference, I argue that the fruitful cultural relations that ensued from their encounter in Buenos Aires in November 1924, offer a pertinent example of south-south solidarity that proposes a decentred spatial paradigm for global interconnectedness formulated from late-colonial and neo-colonial locations formerly excluded from canonical narratives of modernism. I suggest that the 'contact zones' they generated – in a broader use of Pratt's phrase – offer a transnational framework that arises from, and focusses on, the so-called 'peripheries': India and Argentina. By reading Tagore and Ocampo as part of a comparative horizon that is attendant to the aesthetic possibilities their encounter yields, as well as by positioning it in relation to the outward-looking, multidirectional cultural models of literature they proposed: vishva-sahitya (Tagore) and Sur (Ocampo) – while remaining aware of the fraught, complex relationship their countries sustained with imperial Britain – I seek to situate them as decisive figures that can significantly enrich and enlarge our understanding of modernist practices in the global south.

Dr Patricia Novillo-Corvalán is a Senior Lecturer in Comparative Literature at the University of Kent. Her research interests focus on the relationship between Latin America and European modernisms, the global South, translation broadly understood as a transfer of knowledge and migration of ideas, people, and cultural artefacts, and she has written extensively on cross-cultural encounters between writers worldwide. She is the author of Borges and Joyce: An Infinite Conversation (Legenda. 2011) and Transnational Networks of Literary Exchange (Routledge, 2017).


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