Globalisation and dislocation in the novels of Kazuo Ishiguro
Celebratory claims for the epistemic centrality of the diasporic, nomadic and non-territorial subject have been advanced in recent years. Migrancy is said to confer privileged sensibility and ocular omnipotence; it has also been proposed as a universal ontological condition. At the same time there has been immense critical investiture in the counter-hegemonic valencies of diasporic and syncretic or hybrid cultural forms, which are often parsed as inherently oppositional or subversive, all of which helps to buttress theoretical moves that downplay or dismiss paradigms of rootedness, territoriality and/or national identity in contemporary critical discourse. This dissertation challenges the articulations above through a critical elaboration of the writings of Anglo-Japanese author Kazuo Ishiguro. It does this by drawing attention to the operation of exilic self-fashioning in Ishiguro's fiction. But, more importantly, it shows that his writing inscribes a trajectory that is metacritical in its ambit, suggesting that critical elucidation of cosmopolitan cultural production needs to attend to the systematicity and effects of international capital if its oppositional impetus is not to be emasculated. This claim derives from the propensity in Ishiguro's fiction to refine the substance of earlier work in response to their popular reception, while simultaneously restating contestatory themes, which means that his authorial trajectory is also able to illuminate some of the commonplace misrecognitions underwriting the reception of cosmopolitan cultural production. Insofar as the increasingly normative insistence on the oppositional makeup of diasporic and syncretic cultural forms and experiences tends to misjudge the appropriate proclivities of global capital the predominance of the former in critical discourse is, therefore, deeply problematised, together with the allied propensity to devalue materialist interpretative categories. The importance of exilic themes in Ishiguro's fiction and also the trajectory proposed here reminds us, however, that migrant encounters can take many forms, and hence that scrupulous attention must be paid to the negotiated specificities of different migrant encounters.