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Between the Lines: South Asians and Postcoloniality

Mary Deepika; Vasudeva Bahri

Publication Year: 1996

Published by: Temple University Press


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pp. v-viii

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pp. ix-xii

We thank all those who helped in the compilation of this anthology, our contributors, families, friends, and collaborators at Temple University Press: David Palumbo-Liu, Janet Francendese, Patricia Sterling, and Joan Vidal. For institutional support, we thank Bowling Green State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Emory University. ...

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-32

This volume brings together the voices of South Asians in the Anglo-American academy on the construction and representation of the "postcolonial." 1 Combining interviews, literary criticism, commentaries, and cultural studies, Between the Lines: South Asians and PostcoloniaIity suggests the diversity and complexity of what one might designate the "postcolonial" subject. Further, even within the narrower parameters of specifically South Asian ...


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2. Observing Ourselves among Others: Interview with Meena Alexander

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pp. 35-53

This interview was conducted at Meena Alexander's home in New York City on 12 November 1993. Settled in front of the picture window in her apartment, we began our discussion over chai (tea) and cookies. We sat on the edge of a covered futon (no American sofa or La-Z-Boy here), surrounded by Wordsworth, Anita Desai, Gunter Grass, works by Alexander herself, and other books too numerous to count. ...

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3. Pedagogical Alternatives: Issues in Postcolonial Studies Interview with Gauri Viswanathan

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pp. 54-63

This interview was conducted in segments, by mail and through telephone conversations in March and May 1994, between Viswanathan's busy schedule and repeated trips to India. ...

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4. Transnationality and Multiculturalist Ideology: Interview with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

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pp. 64-90

This interview took place at Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak's office atColumbia University on 12 November 1993. We had caught Spivak at an ob viously busy time, since she was preparing to leave the country in less than amonth. Meanwhile, she had two days to complete her compilation of materi als for a course on theorizing women. As we settled into her office, cluttered...


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5. African Americans and the New Immigrants

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pp. 106-123

People of South Asian origin in the United States number about two million now and may be regarded as an "imagined community" within the broad framework of Benedict Andersonts definitions.1 Although American conceptions of "race" play a significant role in how all immigrants of color are perceived (more on this later) t their assimilation into American life parallels in many ways what earlier European ...

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6. Life at the Margins: In the Thick of Multiplicity

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pp. 111-120

The condition of the world today brings home to us - those of us who had forgotten - the pervasiveness of smaller ethnic, communal, or sectarian identities and the tenacity with which they survive. We have seen pluralism-based national identities - built on the idea that human equality and fraternity should ultimately override ethnic or other communal differences-disintegrate and these smaller components ...

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7. Mullahs, Sex, and Bureaucrats: Pakistan’s Confrontations with the Modern World

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pp. 121-136

Pakistan's attempts to enter modernity on its own terms have been fraught with obstacles and contradictions. Caught between East and West by globalization, undone by leakages through the tenuous membrane of national sovereignty (the rise of ethnic nationalism and sectarianism), and yet vulnerable to the reemergence of Islamic and pre-Islamic myths long forgotten, Pakistan remains both traditional and modern.1 ...

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8. Coming to Terms with the “Postcolonial”

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pp. 137-164

Some fifteen years after the term "postcolonial" began to circulate in the Western academy, the question "What is the postcolonial?" - raised by Vijay Mishra and Bob Hodge in 1991 - continues to tax the imagination of academicians.1 Essays interrogating the term, its use and abuse, its pitfalls and diffuseness, abound in journals and conference meetings. Discontent in and about the field has not, ...


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9. An Explosion of Difference: The Margins of Perception in Sammy and Rosie Get Laid

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pp. 180-197

Framed with sound bites from Margaret Thatcher, Stephen Frears and Hanif Kureishi's second collaborative film, Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (1 987, U.K.), firmly situates itself not only in the British but specifically in the London scene of race, class, and sexual politics. While focusing on the infidelities and complexities of the lives of Sammy, an accountant of South Asian descent, and his wife, Rosie, a white social worker, ...

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10. Emigrants Twice Displaced: Race, Color, and Identity in Mira Nair’s Mississippi Masala

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pp. 185-203

The relationship between nonwhite minority groups in the United States today is an issue that requires our immediate attention. To recognize the gravity of the situation, one has only to look at such disputes in Brooklyn as the 1990 black boycott of two Korean grocery stores, and the clashes between the Hasidic and African American communities in the Crown Heights neighborhood. ...

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11. From Ritual Drama to National Prime Time: Mahabharata, India’s Televisual Obsession

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pp. 204-215

The Mahabharata has recently been introduced to Western audiences via Peter Brook's elaborate, international, and multiethnic theatrical production. Between 1987 and 1988 the English-language version, produced by Brook's International Center ofTheatre Research (CIRT), traveled around the world, opening in Zurich and moving on to Los Angeles, New York, Perth, Adelaide, ...

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12. Television, Politics, and the Epic Heroine: Case Study, Sita

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pp. 216-234

On a Sunday morning in January 1987 Indians all across the nation sat down, or stood around, to participate in yet another telling of the two millennia-old Ramayana.1 The epic, the primary text of which has been attributed to the poet Valmiki, has been retold hundreds of time in major and minor regional languages, through folk tales, ritualized readings, pageantry, and even film.2 ...


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13. Replacing the Colonial Gaze: Gender as Strategy hi Salman Rushdie’s Fiction

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pp. 237-249

The fictional author in Shame, in one of the many metatextual moments in the novel, asserts somewhat disingenuously that his "fairy tale" has escaped his control, that the women have taken over what was, he believed, a story primarily about males: ...

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14. Style Is (Not) the Woman: Sara Suleri’s Meatless Days

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pp. 250-269

In an interview, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak has replaced an old question about female identity (particularly Third World female identity)namely "What is woman?"- with another question: "What is man that the itinerary of his desire creates such a text?" In rehabilitating the position of the questioning subject she intends to call attention to the context of phallocentrism. The question she posed originally ...

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15. Redefining the Postcolonial Female Self: Women in Anita Desai’s Clear Light of Day

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pp. 270-283

The politics of theoretical and literary representation by international women of color in the last decade or two and its intervention in the diversifying context of feminist discourse invites and, in many cases, challenges theorists and practitioners to address the specific nature, method, and polities of these representational practices. In this context, to borrow Bapsi Sidhwa's terms, "third world, our world" ...

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16. “Luminous Brahmin Children Must Be Saved”: Imperialist Ideologies, “Postcolonial” Histories in Bharati Mukherjee’s The Tiger's Daughter

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pp. 284-297

Few South Asian immigrant writers have commanded as much critical attention as Bharati Mukherjee (only Salman Rushdie comes to mind) or provoked as strong and disparate reactions in critics and readers. Two excerpts may illustrate the spectrum of Mukherjee criticism. ...

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17. The Troubled Past: Literature of Severing and the Viewer/Viewed Dialectic

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pp. 298-312

When one nation, albeit with great self-contained diversity, "chooses" to split into unequal halves, what questions are we forced to ask about the historical and social psyche of peoples who were part of an uneasy whole but whose severance led to a massive butchery of one another? At the theoretical level, this violence against so-called different religious groups has a long-standing history in the subcontinent, ...


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18. Jane Austen in Meerut, India

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pp. 315-336

Twelve sleeping pills in fancy packets of four each, made in Ulhasnagar, near Bombay. Brand name Somnorax. Asupine king on each packet with hands beneath his head and eyes wide as chasms. And inscribed beneath him the lines from Shakespeare's Macbeth: "the innocent sleep, Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleave of care." ...

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19. Border Crossings: Retrieval and Erasure of the Self as Other

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pp. 337-350

For now I am hidden, nearly invisible in this dark that is the inside of the mango tree. Here it smells of a sweet ripening and camphor. In the topmost branches, the monkeys make sorrowful noises and shake the boughs. Just beyond the shadow-pool of the tree, the heat is strong enough to lean on. Through the chinks in the leaves, I can see the boy strip off his clothes and lie naked in the tall grass. He thinks he is hidden, but I can see him clearly-his brown body dappled by the sun-from where I am crouched, ...

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20. I See the Glass as Half Full

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pp. 351-368

So what is it like to be a woman, a South Asian, and a feminist in North America?1 What is it like to be a nonwhite, non-Judaeo-Christian, non-male in academia? What is it like to be a Canadian writer who was born and educated in India? ...

About the Contributors

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pp. 369-372

E-ISBN-13: 9781439901083

Publication Year: 1996