• Rhetoric of the Political Novel – Cultures of Migrancy

    156 001 | CCN: 31366

    Cultures of Migrancy

    Instructor: Pheng Cheah

    Location: Social Sciences Building 140

    Date / Time: Tu/Th 12:30pm - 1:59pm

    4 Units

    “What a strange world. The immigrant is the Everyman of the twentieth century” (Hanif Kureishi). Diasporas are frequently characterized as a new form of cosmopolitan subject that challenge and subvert the political and cultural authority of the nation-state. Migration is the fundamental material condition of diasporic subjectivity. In this course, we will read narrative fiction by and about South Asian and Chinese diaspora to explore how transnational migration in the twentieth and twenty-first century gives rise to different forms of cultural community. How do immigrants experience their new countries and what are their memories of the cultural landscape they have left behind? What does it mean to experience one's identity primarily in terms of “culture” or “race”? Are cultures of migrancy shaped by where one emigrates from and immigrates to? How is migrant culture affected by the history of colonialism (e.g. between India and the UK)? Does the racism faced by Chinese and South Asian migrants to the USA shape migrant culture differently? How is the culture of migrancy different when one moves to another part of the Third World instead of the West? What are the differences between multiculturalism in the USA/UK and the culture of labor migration to the Third World? Is migrant culture shaped by the gender of the migrant? In what ways are migrant cultures forms of cosmopolitanism from below that offer a critical perspective on dominant national culture and political order? We will examine the new forms of diaspora that have emerged in contemporary globalization within the framework of the New Empire of the Pax Americana and its conflict with the Islamic world and its competition with Chinese post-socialist global capitalism. Do these new types of diaspora require us to rethink the presumed affiliation of diaspora with cosmopolitan circulation that typifies the North Atlantic model of diasporic subjectivity?

    Required Texts:

    Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club (1989)
    Hanif Kureishi, The Buddha of Suburbia (1990)
    K.S. Maniam, The Return (1981)
    Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007)
    Tash Aw, Five Star Billionaire (2013)

    Additional materials will be available on bcourses (marked by *)