Reference : Possessed by Whiteness: Interracial Affiliations and Racial Melancholia in Mohsin Ham...
Scientific congresses and symposiums : Unpublished conference/Abstract
Arts & humanities : Literature
Possessed by Whiteness: Interracial Affiliations and Racial Melancholia in Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Munos, Delphine mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > Département des langues et littératures modernes > Littérature anglaise moderne et littérature américaine >]
Strokes Across Cultures 15th ACLALS Triennial Conference
6-11 June 2010
University of Cyprus
[en] Whiteness ; Model Minority ; US
[en] Towards the end of the 20th century, as the propagation of new discourses of ethnic success generated new versions of the American Dream, “America” came to signify not only immigrant mobility and whiteness, but also multiculturalism. As Inderpal Grewal argues in Transnational America, this paradox of sorts was only made possible through a slippage in the meaning of “white,” within which whiteness still connoted Anglo-America, yet extended its meaning to include a more heterogeneous group that passed as white through the endorsement of culturally-specific consumerist practices and middle-class norms of behaviour. Posing as multicultural yet covertly fastening whiteness to an ideal Americanness, these so-called “new” versions of the American Dream elevated the Asian American community to “model minority” status, thus contributing to rationalize away the lure that a “relative whiteness” could somehow be acquired by non-white minority groups.
Drawing on whiteness studies and psychoanalytical theory, my paper will explore representations of interracial relationships as a means to claim and/or contest the ideal of whiteness in Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist. In Hamid’s novel, the 9/11 attacks trigger a crisis in self-identification for model-minority protagonist Changez, which proves illuminating in terms of the invisible racial subjugation exerted so far onto him by Jim, Changez’s passport into the corporate world, and by Erica, his (white) lifeline to exclusive Manhattan. My paper will focus on the ways in which Hamid uses the post 9/11 context to reveal the racial melancholia surreptitiously informing today’s “new” versions of the American Dream, which is apparent in Changez’s and Erica’s relationship as well as in their parallel impossible mourning of the broken mirror of “white” Am/Erica. Emphasizing the extent to which whiteness and racial melancholia permeate the discourse of assimilation, Hamid’s book rewrites the “new” American Dream as a “fantasy built on absences” (Anne Anlin Cheng).
CEREP (Centre d'Enseignement et de Recherche en Etudes Postcoloniales)
Researchers ; Professionals ; Students

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