89.1 Unrooted biographies/unexpected reconnections

Wednesday, August 1, 2012: 10:45 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Karim MURJI , Open University, United Kingdom
In this paper I seek to explore the experiences of otherness through the biographical works of two East African born but South Asian descended writers - MG Vassanji and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, one resident in the UK, the other in Canada. The number of places invoked in the previous sentence already signal the multiple and shifting spaces that could frame an answer to a question about origins, identities/identifications, and national/ethnic and other forms of belonging. But if this makes multiple 'homelands' and the experience of 'strangeness' familiar rather than exceptional, what are the personal, psychic and communal consequences of being 'uprooted'? What kinds of unexpected and unanticipated 'reconnections' are made through the life course and events at both personal and global political levels? By focusing on two writers, my aim is to explore the ways in which the cultural production of diaspora texts, and the transnational imaginaries they contain, shape shifting conceptions and meanings of being 'here', 'there', and 'in between'. In examining the scales, sources and modes of experience of familiarity and strangeness in several locations in these texts I try to show how these are gendered, as well as ethnicised and 'classed'.