In the past few years, the concept of «liminality» has become a kind of pet theme within the discipline of Cultural Studies, lending itself to phenomena of transgression and systemic demarcation. This anthology employs theories of liminality to discuss Canada’s geographic and symbolic boundaries, taking its point of departure from the observation that «Canada» itself, as a cultural, political, and geographic entity, encapsulates elements of the «liminal.» The essays comprised in this volume deal with fragmented and contradictory practices in Canada, real and imagined borders, as well as contact zones, thresholds, and transitions in Anglo-Canadian and French-Canadian texts, discussing topics such as the U.S./Canadian border, migration, French-English relations, and encounters between First Nations and settlers.
Subversion and Self-Definition in Montréal Novels by Dany Laferrière and Rawi Hage (Derek C. Maus)
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Derek C. Maus
Subversion and Self-Definition in Montréal Novels by Dany Laferrière and Rawi Hage
Abstract: Dany Laferrière’s Comment faire l’amour avec un nègre sans se fatiguer (1985) and Rawi Hage’s Cockroach (2008) both present readers with disadvantaged, non-white immigrants to Montréal who are straddling rejection and integration. They are simultaneously designated as part of a homogenous ‘Third World’ mass and fetishized for their perceived exoticism, paired processes that inherently constrain such immigrants’ identities within a vestigial colonial perspective and thereby deny them equal status. I will first discuss how both writers depict these limiting processes at work and thereafter move on to explicate the subversive and self-defining identities that they put forth as “counter-discourses” that “refus[e] to be integrated” into a system that demands their submissive objectification. Both novels resolve with unusual and provocative forms of liberation for their narrator-protagonists, but they also suggest that there are few, if any, better options available to Montréal’s non-European immigrant population, given the rigidly inflexible cultural processes that require them to remain dependent on the inconsistent attention and benevolence of the dominant white culture if they wish to remain in the city.
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