What Fragments Shore My Ruins?: Identity and Representation in The Eye Of The Mirror, Kindred, and A Wreath Upon The Dead
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Briege Duffaud, Liana Badr, Liminality, Octavia Butler, Postcolonial Theory, Minor Transnationalism, Race, Gender, and Nation
The postcolonial canon predominately defines colonization as a direct annexing of a Third World space by a European colonizer and postcolonialism as the aftermath of complete withdrawal by the colonizer. This reliance on the historical "post" as a definitional category excludes spaces such as Palestine, Black America, and Northern Ireland, which display symptoms of colonization, notably exile, rupture, and linguistic and cultural dispossession. I reconsider the working definitions of postcolonial theory, and I argue for the inclusion of Palestine, Black America, and Northern Ireland in the postcolonial canon. Thus, I address the sites of discursive privilege and silencing within the postcolonial canon, and I make visible the struggles of the communities occupying the margins of the canon. The three women-authored novels I chose for the project--Liana Badr's Palestinian novel, The Eye of the Mirror, Octavia Butler's Black American novel Kindred, and Briege Duffaud's Northern Irish novel A Wreath upon the Dead--narrate violent nationalisms and its after-effects: the Palestinian carnage in the Lebanese Civil War, slavery and Black Nationalism, and the Irish Troubles respectively. These texts present female author figures located in the contested nation, minoritized because of their ethnic and gender identity, and resisting their minoritization through the act of writing. Thus, the woman-authored novels I examine in this project explore the double bind of gender and nation, and deliberate on the healing and transforming potential of literature in a conflict zone.
Through the transnational scope of my project, I highlight the need for lateral links between various minoritized communities as they struggle for voice and agency. Each of my female writers positions her communal struggle for rights in the larger transcultural systems of oppressions. Each of my writers manifests minor-to minor connections as a strategy of resistance. By theorizing transnationalism from below, I depart from the traditional theorizing of resistance as a vertical struggle against the metropolitan, which often reifies the metropolitan. Thus, by centering transversal method that critiques totalitarian narratives from multiple geopolitical and cultural sites, my project performs layered resistance against various oppressive institutions.
Mukherjee, S. (2014). What Fragments Shore My Ruins?: Identity and Representation in The Eye Of The Mirror, Kindred, and A Wreath Upon The Dead (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/1549