Library Dissertation Showcase

Liminal Spaces: The Parallels between Postcolonial and Queer Theory in South Asian Literature

  • Year of Publication:
  • 2020

Literature of the South Asian diaspora provides an excellent platform for discussing the intersections between postcolonial and queer theory. Liminal identities, as explored in Homi K. Bhabha’s The Location of Culture, exist in both a postcolonial and queer context: as mixed-race people, identities who challenge the caste system, bisexual individuals, and people who exist outside of the gender dichotomy. This independent study will explore what these liminal identities have in common and will examine their universal themes. Jes L. Matsick and Jennifer D. Rubin’s research on the double discrimination dictates that bisexuals face discrimination from both heterosexual and homosexuals. This independent study will apply the idea of double discrimination to other liminal identities and will explore how negative stereotypes, cultural practices, and racism are used to maintain dichotomies. Double discrimination causes liminal identities to mimic the hegemonic identities within their dichotomy. In mimicking these hegemonic identities, through clothing, language, and actions, liminal identities can survive the discrimination targeted against them. Finally, liminal identities form chosen families to counteract discrimination and form loving communities in which mimicry is no longer needed. This independent study will examine the following texts: Funny Boy (1994) by Shyam Selvadurai, Sea of Poppies (2008) by Amitav Ghosh, River of Smoke (2011) by Amitav Ghosh, She of the Mountains (2014) by Vivek Shraya, and The Life and Lies of Rukhsana Ali (2019) by Sabina Khan. These novels from the South Asian diaspora demonstrate that liminal identities exist in many forms and have more in common that one may initially think.

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