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Title: Relational identities and politics in African-American and postcolonial Pakistani women's literary counter-narratives
Author: Siddiqa, Ayesha
ISNI:       0000 0004 5994 7848
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis explores the question of “identity” in feminism through an intertextual reading of African-American and Pakistani women’s writing. Its comparative approach to women-centred counter-narratives is also informed by a transnational, postcolonial frame alert to continuities between colonialism and neocolonialism. Although “identity” has become less central in some current linguistic and ontological modes of feminist inquiry, given the enduring relevance of identities both as social meaning-making processes and as repressive political categories, this thesis reshifts focus towards identities by foregrounding their emancipatory potential for feminist politics. Through critical engagement with Judith Butler’s and Allison Weir’s theories of relationality and with the epistemological and ontological dimensions of selected counter-narratives, this thesis reconceives identities as relations of interconnection and interdependence, thus encompassing but also moving beyond definitions in terms of restrictive social categories. Through investigating the (re)narration of histories and (re)presentation of discourses in Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861), Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1987), Bapsi Sidhwa’s Cracking India (1991), and Kamila Shamsie’s Burnt Shadows (2009), the thesis seeks to develop a relational conception of identities, agency, and coalition in a feminist historicist, relational framework. As well as expanding the sparse comparative scholarship on Pakistani and American literatures, this study considers the peculiar positionality of African-Americans vis-à-vis other “postcolonial” groups in the emergence of the U.S. as a neocolonial power. A valuable lens for understanding such transnational politics is found in a feminist analysis of the intersecting histories of racism and imperialism and their contemporary neocolonial manifestations. The contribution of this thesis is thus twofold: it newly brings together the arenas of African-American and Pakistani women’s counter-narratives that renegotiate identities and histories in relational terms; in doing so, it also starts to imagine an anti-imperialist transnational feminist political paradigm that conceives individual and collective identities and political alliances within a relational social ontology.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available