Rhizome and repetition: Indian cultural identity in migration, diaspora and return

Fishwick, Benjamin Matthew (2012) Rhizome and repetition: Indian cultural identity in migration, diaspora and return. MA dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    Indian cultural identity is not fixed in one location or form; it is has no strict borders, only expanse. Migrancy and the South Asian diaspora offer alternate routes to and sites of cultural Indianness that lay beyond national borders, which are themselves at risk of being both redrawn through political change, or made ever more permeable. If Indianness, as a cultural identity rather than nationality, denotes an ever growing number of individuals, including those living abroad in the diaspora and even those for whom India is not home, how do we begin to conceptualise their return to India?
    I examine migrancy, liminal border spaces, diaspora experiences and returns to India depicted in Anita Desai’s 1999 novel Fasting, Feasting (2000), Kiran Desai’s 2006 Booker Prize winning novel The Inheritance of Loss (2007), Amitav Ghosh’s 1996 novel The Calcutta Chromosome (1997), and Jhumpa Lahiri’s ‘Interpreter of Maladies’ (2000b) and ‘The Third and Final Continent’ (2000c), from her 2000 Pulitzer Prize winning collection of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies (2000a). In theorising the broad nature of Indian cultural identity, I propose that Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s concept of the rhizome, outlined in their philosophical treatise, A Thousand Plateaus (2004) along with Deleuze’s theory of repetition in Difference and Repetition (2004), offer a way to understand identity which continually develops. In doing so I engage with Homi K Bhabha and his essays on the nation and liminality, in The Location of Culture; with Stuart Hall and his work on the Caribbean diaspora ‘Cultural Identity and Diaspora’ (1990) and ‘Thinking the Diaspora: Home-Thoughts from Abroad’ (2005), along with his interrelated work on ethnicity in ‘New ethnicities’ (1996); and lastly, with the work of the Martinican author and theorist Édouard Glissant in Poetics of Relation (1997).
    What emerges from this encounter of the rhizome and postcolonial theory is a different way of conceptualising Indian identity, that each identity created through a return is inherently new, not simply a further representation. To that end, a return to India helps to combine these different visions; Indianness in depth as well as breadth with every return.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social, Historical and Literary Studies
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 07 Jul 2015 15:32
    Last Modified: 07 Jul 2015 15:32
    URI: http://eprints.port.ac.uk/id/eprint/17629

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