Reference : Giving up the Ghosts: Diaspora and its Hereafter in “Once in a Lifetime” by Jhumpa Lahiri
Scientific congresses and symposiums : Unpublished conference/Abstract
Arts & humanities : Literature
Giving up the Ghosts: Diaspora and its Hereafter in “Once in a Lifetime” by Jhumpa Lahiri
Munos, Delphine mailto [Université de Liège - ULg > Département des langues et littératures modernes > Littérature anglaise moderne et littérature américaine >]
Postcolonial Translocations 20th Annual GNEL/ASNEL Conference
21-24 mai 2009
GNEL/ASNEL University of Munster
[en] Diaspora ; India ; Melancholia
[en] In spite of diasporic subjectivity being recurrently conceptualised through a rhetoric of “fluidity,” “multiple affiliations” and “national non-attachment,” today’s literature of the Indian diaspora reveals that the “un-transnational” ideology of the return is still running deep in the first and second-generation migrant imaginary. Vijay Mishra’s recent attempt to explore the idea of “writing diaspora” in an analogy with writing trauma or writing mourning is illuminating in this respect, because it constitutes a theoretical framework able to bear witness to the maintenance of a diasporic imaginary structured by the loss of the Motherland, whether this loss involves firsthand experience of migration or originates from a “phantom loss” refigured by the second generation.

Drawing on Mishra’s theorizing of the diasporic imaginary, my paper will explore Jhumpa Lahiri’s representation of the second generation’s “inheritance of loss” in “Once in a Lifetime,” the short-story opening Unaccustomed Earth’s trilogy. By narrating Hema’s and Kaushik’s parallel journey from childhood to early adulthood, Lahiri rewrites the notion of return as melancholic attachments through which the unsymbolizable gap left by the absence of the Motherland can be represented, renegotiated and perhaps then, put to rest. In my paper, I wish to show that not only does Lahiri use melancholy as a means of representing second-generation subjectivities haunted by impossible mourning and unclaimed legacies, but also that she rehabilitates the notion of return as a way of envisaging a diasporic future that is swarming with ghosts. In that sense, Lahiri illustrates that the notion of homeland and the trope of the return can also be associated with a promise of futurity.
CEREP (Centre d'Enseignement et de Recherche en Etudes Postcoloniales)
Researchers ; Professionals

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