The Intellectual Migrant
2 Forging States of Belonging: Migrant Memory, Nation, and Subjectivity in Meena Alexander’s Memoir, Fault Lines 27
Chapter 2 Forging States of Belonging: Migrant Memory, Nation, and Subjectivity in Meena Alexander’s Memoir, Fault Lines A woman who did not know herself, how could I have written a book of my life and thought it true? I was tormented by the feeling that I had written a memoir that was not true. —Meena Alexander, Fault Lines Meena Alexander belongs to a long list of twentieth century di- asporic writers who seek to create a sense of deep attachment to cherished places based on memory. However, any critical inquiry into the complexity of such memories is not only necessarily li- mited, but must also be approached with a certain degree of cau- tion. In Alexander’s case, memory is something she constantly invents as a means to keep her narrative moving forward. Alexan- der’s memory is filled with either repressed or half-remembered tales from past events/nations and her conflictual presence in the U.S. This very collision between her experience based on past memory and that based on present memory forms a jumbled col- 28 The Postcolonial Citizen lage in her own discursive formation of identity and writing. I con- tend in this chapter that through the genre of the memoir, particu- larly the problematic discursivity staged in the two editions of Fault Lines (FL 1993 & 2003) the issue of gross misrepresentation of the postcolonial states of memory and belonging comes to the forefront. In other words, Alexander’s writing itself becomes a space that begins to expose the arbitrary and contradictory...
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