Children’s literature in a global age: transnational and local identities
This essay explores the concept of transnationalism, defining this term in relation both to the lived experience of transnational subjects, and to transnational texts for children. It argues that rhetorics of globalization have over-emphasized the impact and significance of global cultural and economic flows, although the production of children’s books is to some extent shaped by the internationalization of publishing houses and markets. The concept of transnationalism provides a way of thinking about how children’s texts address and are informed by diverse, complex influences, sometimes from a variety of cultures and languages. Transnationalism is not a new phenomenon but is visible in colonial texts which are shaped both by the particular, local ideologies of colonial nations, and also by the common concerns and interests of such nations. The essay draws on two contemporary texts to illustrate the workings of transnationalism: the film Howl’s Moving Castle, and Shaun Tan’s picture book The Arrival. It concludes by considering the concept of transnational literacy as a way of approaching scholarship and teaching in children’s literature.
Keywords: culture, ethnicity, children’s publishing, postcolonialism, politics, migration, diaspora
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