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Mimicry and Shame in Naipaul’s The Mimic Men and Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss
Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Learning Practices inside and outside School (LPS), Communication, Culture & Diversity @ JU (CCD@JU). University of Gothenburg, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3264-9173
2017 (English)In: Comparative Critical Studies, ISSN 1744-1854, E-ISSN 1750-0109, Vol. 14, no 2-3, p. 205-224Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Reflecting on the affective nature of diasporic experience, the essay begins by developing Arendt's understanding of displacement as a temporal disjunction of being caught between the claims of the past and the exigencies of the present. The impossibility of salvaging the past against the often stifling imperatives of the present that she accounts for in her essay 'We Refugees' is, however, also what produces affective economies in the diasporic subject that I argue are crucial to diasporic identity formation. In this respect, I focus on shame, which I see as an affective residue of the unsalvageable past in the experience of displacement. In order to determine and further develop the significance of shame for diasporic subject formation, this essay will consider its impact on subjectivity in a comparative close reading of two contemporary novels, V. S. Naipaul's The Mimic Men and Kiran Desai's The Inheritance of Loss, both of which manifest the elision of the past in diasporized subjects and the movement towards strategies of identification articulated in mimicry. Mimicry, seen in Fanon's rather than Bhabha's terms, as a disavowal of the past, fails, however, to provide a viable strategy of identification for a diasporic subject in the novels that testify rather to the affective cost of our incumbent efforts to start anew. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Edinburgh University Press, 2017. Vol. 14, no 2-3, p. 205-224
Keywords [en]
salvage, maintain, preserve, reconstitute, holding on, vestige, residue, loss, unsalvageable, letting go, disavowal, effacement, disarticulate, Affect theory, shame, diasporic idenity, Postcolonial studies, Bhabha, Fanon
National Category
Humanities and the Arts
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-37485DOI: 10.3366/ccs.2017.0236ISI: 000432024900006Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85046886049OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-37485DiVA, id: diva2:1145954
Available from: 2017-10-01 Created: 2017-10-01 Last updated: 2018-11-29Bibliographically approved

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