The Transgenerational Trauma of Displacement: Rewriting Diasporic Subjectivities in the Shadow of the Phantom of the (M)otherland

Document Type : Original Article


PhD in English Literature, Department of Foreign Languages, North-Tehran Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran



the argument of the present research is based on the premise that assiduous attention to the transgenerational traumatic aspect of diasporic displacements not only gives voice to the often covert narratives of loss and pain encrypted in the diasporic literature, but it also sheds light on the process of the negotiation of subjectivities by both the first and the second-generation diasporic subjects. As a critical inquiry into the literary representations of diasporic subjectivities via a predominantly psychoanalytically-inspired approach, the present analysis of diasporic short fiction thus sits restlessly on the nexus of both diaspora studies and the psychoanalytic studies of trauma. Through a close textual analysis of two samples of short fiction authored by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and Tania James, the study seeks to present its intergenerational conception of diasporic subjectivities in the light of the theory of transgenerational haunting. It explores the ways in which different generations of diasporic subjects are haunted by the phantom of a (M)otherland whose uncanny shadow is woven into the confounding reality of diasporic life. This phantom constantly exposes the diasporic self to a psychic space of empathy whose emergence is facilitated by the presence of an external other who through cathartic interactions with the diasporic self endows her/him with a fair chance to (re-)negotiate her/his subjectivities. It is also to be placed on the threshold of a belated mourning for a hitherto-repressed oft-internalized sense of otherness, if not an oft-occluded shame of unbelongingness. 


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