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|Title:||Diasporic Sexualities in Contemporary Canadian Fiction|
|Department:||English and Cultural Studies|
|Keywords:||Diasporic Sexualities;Canadian Fiction|
|Abstract:||This dissertation studies representations of diaspora, sexuality and gender, and affect in Shani Mootoo's Cereus Blooms at Night (1996), Wayson Choy's The Jade Peony (1995), Shyam Selvadurai's Funny Boy (1994), and Dionne Brand's In Another Place, Not Here (1996). There is a notable absence of explicitly named sexual and gender identities in these novels. I argue that this absence is a function of diasporic doubleness: the identities are lost in the trauma of relocation and ongoing cultural translation; they have never been inscribed in collective memories about originary lands or have been inscribed only negatively; or they cannot be concretized in language because, under the disorienting conditions of diasporic mobility, nothing that matters is ever concrete. Mootoo, Choy, Selvadurai, and Brand choose against assigning distinct sexual or gender identities to their characters in part because they refuse to reproduce the social, legaL psychologicaL and medical categories through which discursive power flows. This suspension of naming, however, is not only a matter of counter-discursive opposition. Considered in the context of collective displacement, this suspension also produces an opportunity for queer diasporans to strengthen communal bonds across the fragmentary prejudices and differences that are internal to diasporas. By focusing on emergent experiences of sex-gender desire, Mootoo, Choy, Selvadurai, and Brand create room for affiliation between characters-queer and not-who might otherwise remain separated by the power and politics that flow through language. Whereas Western cultures are philosophically founded on binary separations of mind and body, human and animal, civilization and chaos, and thinking and feeling, affect theorists recognize that humans are first and foremost feeling entities, and that sensation is an integral part of any human experience. The key tenant of affect theory, that the economy of the physical body is a rich resource of agency, motivation, and hope, enables me to find common ground between the quite different interests of diaspora theory and queer theory in literary-cultural analysis.|
|Appears in Collections:||Open Access Dissertations and Theses|
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