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After The Last Ship

A Post-colonial Reconstruction of Diaspora


Audrey Fernandes-Satar

After the Last Ship illustrates the author’s own history, as well as its connection to the history of other women and children who left India and made the journey across the Kala Pani, the Indian Ocean, and lived as migrants in other countries. In this book the author brings greater understanding of how subjectivities are shaped through embodied experiences of ‘mixed race’. She bears witness to the oppressive policies of the fascist government in Portugal in the 1960’s and 1970’s and the effects of displacement and exile, by reconstructing her own passage from India to Mozambique and finally to Australia. Further, the author shows the devastation that labels such as ‘half-caste’, ‘canecos’ and ‘monhe’ can cause, when they eat at your flesh, your being, and your body. She sheds light on how identity and culture can serve as vehicles of empowerment, how experiences of belonging can germinate and take root post-diaspora.
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Chapter Two: To live on this border


…We looked at the rice and she began to draw rice ears with her fingers on the palm of my hands.

I came to theory…

I can still picture the day when I first came across an article written by Gloria Anzaldua (1990). It was placed at the end of a collection of readings in a feminist unit reader. Whilst flicking aimlessly, a section titled Making Face, Making Soul, Haciendo Caras caught my eye. It was the fleeting recognition of something written in another language, a language other than English, a different arrangement of letters that caught my eye at first… I read on… it was food for thought, khana, food, eatables… I kept reading… this made sense, I could understand this voice… I could hear the writer as if she was talking to me, about me, with my tongue… my vocal cords. I have kept on reading ever since…

In this book my general aim is to disrupt discursive representations of the female ‘Indian’ body by articulating my own hybrid cultural identity. This involves unearthing bodily and embodied experiences of diaspora, then subjecting these experiences to reflective analysis, thus admitting the diasporic body into theory. In this chapter I briefly analyse the effects of imperial legacies and the space of the postcolonial. I reconstruct the concept of diaspora in the aftermath of colonialism, focussing on experiences of embodied displacements, exile and shame, multi-placedness and poverty. In this chapter I also include visual documentation...

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