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Title: Narrating Pakistan transnationally : identity, politics and terrorism in Anglophone Pakistani literature after "9/11"
Author: Khan, Gohar Karim
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2013
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Anglophone Pakistani literature has thrived in the country since its inception in 1947, but the past decade has witnessed a momentous development of this corpus and its readership, receiving formal recognition in Granta 112: Pakistan in 2010. Literary criticism on the subject, which was relatively limited when I started my research on Pakistani English writing in 2009, has since grown but there remains considerable scope for further study. My thesis focuses on the major works of four Pakistani writers, namely Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007) and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia (2013), Kamila Shamsie’s Burnt Shadows (2008), Nadeem Aslam’s The Wasted Vigil (2008) and Daniyal Mueenuddin’s In Other Rooms, Other Wonders (2009). Using 9/11 as a marker, my thesis purports that Anglophone Pakistani writing counterbalances “post-9/11” discourse in American and British fiction which has tended not only to privilege the 9/11 moment as unique, but also assumed essentialist notions of victimhood, violence and identity in its representations. This literature, when it concerns itself with countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq, focuses primarily on their perceived cultural peculiarities, frequently equating them with extremism, violence and female oppression, and thereby reinforcing the dominant non-fictional rhetoric of the international media. As part of this discussion, my study critiques not only Islamophobia but also refutes the erroneous use recent acts terrorism as a justification for rising Islamophobia. My thesis underscores recent Anglophone fiction’s attempts at destabilising the “single story” about Islam and Pakistan. This study examines the contribution of contemporary Anglophone Pakistani writers in providing alternative representational tropes on the subject of Pakistani identity and selfhood, thereby transforming and revitalising the conventional imagining of the country to the international readership. However, I argue that the work of Anglophone Pakistani literature does not stop here. I show that this reimagining of Pakistan operates within the framework of “transnationalism” and aspires to imagine a political state of “togetherness in difference”. Transnationalism is here conceived as attitudinal, covering human collaborations that link people across national boundaries. It is advanced as a progressive and productive alternative to the assumed cultural, political and economic dominations coded into globalization, which is critiqued for its subtexts of cultural and economic domination. Writing from positions of cultural and spatial uncertainty, these writers simultaneously “host” a rigorous interrogation of fundamentalism, violence and oppression in Pakistan but also strive to facilitate a more “hospitable” understanding of Pakistan internationally. Treading the perfidious fault-line between the binaries of home and abroad, native and foreign and extremist and moderate, these writers address two major issues: one, they intervene by exploding the alleged myths of multiculturalism in the so-called “West”; in characterizing this alternative scenario they effectively question the rise of “Islamophobia” and the ill-informed stereotyping of Muslims around the globe, especially after 9/11. Secondly, I argue that the literary resistance offered by these writers constitute a “zone of contact” between the global north and global south. Replacing the discourse of “us and them”, their fictions advocate the phenomenon of what Ien Ang has called “complicated entanglement”. This entanglement envisages a range of transnational narratives—feminist, political, economic and cultural. As border individuals who embody a complex fusion of cultural experiences themselves, these writers are appositely positioned not only to explore the contradictions of human experiences, but also imagine the possibilities of their resolution.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PR English literature