Dialectics of South Asian Subjectivity across Borders: A Critical Study of Selected Contemporary English and Vernacular Diasporic Fiction
The present thesis examines the dialectics of South Asian subjectivity across borders of nation-state, gender, religion, class, culture and ethnicity through the critical study of eight novels by diasporic writers in English and vernacular languages. The thesis is organised into six chapters. The introductory chapter comprises major trends in contemporary South Asian diasporic literature, the review of existing literature, brief introduction to the selected texts, historically theorising the term subjectivity from the Enlightenment to the postmodern era. The second chapter explores the perceptions of different generations regarding tradition, modernity, assimilation and acculturation, evolved through conflicts and dialogue. The third chapter explores how spatial and temporal contexts keep on shaping individual subjectivity, while at the same time personal and collective history spiral together for determining the historical positioning of these subjects. The fourth chapter examines the contestation between normative discourses (heterosexuality, patriarchy, religion, nationalism etc.) and the existing alternative discourses (homosexuality, hybridity, cosmopolitanism etc.) leading to the dynamic process of South Asian subjectivity construction. The changing definitions and nature of culture, existence of plurality of cultures, multicultural overtones represented in the contemporary fiction constitute the fifth chapter of this study. The concluding chapter presents a composite South Asian subjectivity which cannot be claimed as a definite portrayal because subjectivity is not an event but a process. A pattern can be seen through the analysis of these works which shows the common frames of reference in the subjectivity formation of this community through the dialectics among different notions of existence. The critical study of selected diasporic texts shows that subjugated and muted subjectivities occupy the narrative spaces in contemporary English and vernacular fiction.