Iconographies of diaspora : refracted landscapes and textures of memory of South Asian women in London
Diasporic journeys of South Asian women are examined in this thesis as a record of British Asian oral history and migration. Biographical mapping is used as a means to interrogate the complex diasporic relationship between national identity and race. The thesis seeks to investigate the relationships between the racialised body and the experience of dislocation lived through by South Asian women in London. Identity, memory and landscape are core themes that run through the thesis. Remembered landscapes and environmental memories are points of identification. These environments and textures of memory have a multisensory nature. These in turn are refracted as icons in the visual and material cultures of the home. Home as a site of belonging becomes a space through which these women express their relationship with citizenship in Britain, their experience of life in the colony, and their experience of rupture with their birthplace. Relationships between various lands, landscapes, social and cultural iconographies are revealed through a study of cultures in the home. Iconographies of "home" are further investigated in the thesis through a visual project conducted with landscape artist Melanie Carvalho, and the study group. A set of 17 canvases have been painted from the women's descriptions of "home". These are, in turn, analysed as visual representations of remembered, idealised icons of intimate landscapes. This results in an examination of the multiple axes within which the diasporic group practises identification, and through which they are themselves configured. The research study uses a process of grounded theorising by examining biographies, oral histories, and investigating visual and material cultures in the home. These are treated as triggers of identification which operate as metonymical devices of negotiation, resistance and placing.