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Migrant Identities of «Creole Cosmopolitans»

Transcultural Narratives of Contemporary Postcoloniality

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Nirmala Menon and Marika Preziuso

One defining question links the essays of this collection: How do aesthetic and stylistic choices perform the condition of dislocation of the migrant and, in doing so, also put pressure on the seemingly global promise of cosmopolitanism? Migrant Identities of «Creole Cosmopolitans»: Transcultural Narratives of Contemporary Postcoloniality offers a wide array of narratives that complicate the rhetoric of cosmopolitanism and the related discourses of «hybridity». Many such narratives are under-theorized migrations, such as Dalit narratives from India and inter-island migrations in the Caribbean. Collectively, the essays suggest that there are ways in which the forms of the migrant aesthetics, language, and imaginaries may offer new insights in the interactions between practices and discourses of hybridity and cosmopolitanism by examining their precise points of intersection and divergence. This inquiry is especially timely because it raises questions about the circulation, marketing, and consumption of narratives of migration, dislocation, and «diaspora.»
In addition, the collection addresses in at least two significant ways the question about «beyond postcolonialism» and the future of the discipline. First, by questioning and critically examining some foundational theories in postcolonialism, it points to possible new directions in our theoretical vocabulary. Second, it offers an array of reflections around disparate geographies that are, equally importantly, written in different languages. The value that the authors place on languages other than English and their choice to focus on the effect that multiple languages have on the present of postcolonial studies are in line with one of the aims of the collection – to make the case for a multilingual expansion of the postcolonial imaginary as a necessary imperative.
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Chapter 2. Border Crossings: Cultural Collisions and Reconciliation in Hanan Al-Shaykh’s Only in London

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Cultural Collisions and Reconciliation in Hanan Al-Shaykh’s Only in London

HANADI AL-SAMMAN

Our homes [in the diaspora] are light and fleeting. They miss attics and basements. We ride them as trains with open windows. (Hoda Barakat, 83)

Innaha London ya ‘Azizi (Only in London, 2002), the product of Hanan Al-Shaykh’s decades-long residence in London, is her attempt to examine the possibilities and difficulties of mapping out a hyphenated Arab identity at the liminal seams of diaspora.1 Shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2002, the novel explores the negotiations between identity’s fixity and changeability, borders and borderlands, and difference and hybridity, ultimately demonstrating how, as Susan Friedman puts it, “routes produce roots and routes return to roots” (Friedman, 167, 178). Unlike other diasporic narratives that introduced characters yearning to return to their homelands, these particular émigrés are settled physically in the diaspora but unsettled emotionally. They learn to negotiate the gains and losses of hyphenated identities, and to appreciate flexible citizenship, thereby forsaking homeland longings and engendering new belongings articulated through the “dialogic” relationship between roots and routes.

The novel depicts the lives of three Arab individuals: the British-Iraqi Lamis, the Moroccan Amira (originally Habiba), and the Lebanese Samir. These characters are leaving frustrated projects of a personal and financial nature behind in Dubai, heading to London with dreams of resettling and making a fresh start. ← 19 | 20 → Amira, who usually sells her escort services to Arab men on Edgware...

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