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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 8. The Hullabaloo about Hybridity in Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss

Extract



NIRMALA MENON

The disruptive power of mixed ethnicities in metropolitan spaces is central to the discourse of hybridity. Homi Bhabha, in his introduction to Location of Culture, talks about the boundary being a place “from which something begins its presencing in a movement” (5). For Bhabha, Rushdie’s narrative, especially in Satanic Verses, is testimony that the “truest eye may now belong to the migrant’s double vision” (5). Bhabha calls this moment of transition as “dwelling in the beyond,” an intervening space that becomes “a space of intervention in the here and now” (7).

Postcolonial hybridity may be understood as a disruption of the binaries through the in-between space (Bhabha). Rushdie uses the term “chutney” and Saleem Sinai, the narrator-protagonist in Midnight’s Children, recasts the narrative of his life story as a pickle:

Every pickle jar contains, therefore, the most exalted of possibilities, the feasibility of the chutnification of history; the grand hope of pickling of time! I, however, have pickled chapters. … I reach the end of my long winded autobiography: in words and pickles, I have immortalized my memories. (548)

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