Despite the increasing feminization of migration, the intersection of gender and diaspora has been a less explored literary manifestation until recently. Moreover, the physical luggage migrants carry over to the new land, including things imbued with memory, has hardly been considered as a clue to understand the subject’s processes of identity negotiation in the diaspora. Hence, a deeper investigation of the material things through which memories work within houses, landscapes, and innerscapes is necessary in order to shed new light on how diasporic men and women negotiate the past, live the present, and envisage the future. By focusing on two short stories from Jhumpa Lahiri’s Pulitzer-Prize-winning collection The Interpreter of Maladies (1999), I will examine things as emotional anchors and establish whether they impede or facilitate belonging within the diasporic context. First, I will show how in “Mrs. Sen’s” the private museum of memories recreated by the woman protagonist in her American apartment only contributes to increase her sense of alienation and loss and transform her past home into a chimera. On the other hand, I will argue that “The Third and Final Continent” offers an example of successful negotiation of remembrance and forgetting. The male narrator’s reproduction of India through things and artifacts is not paralyzing as they enable a dialogue between here and there, present and past. In conclusion, diasporic memories—both individual and collective—act differently for men and women. If the narration of the past evoked by things can be very positive for their capacity to activate processes of self-analysis, self-discovery, and relocation, their impact on the perception of the present can be problematic. In other words, luggage heavy with memories might impede movement, increase nostalgia, and hinder the natural flux of hyphenated identities.

Luggage heavy with memories: things and gendered identity within the diasporic space / Sofia Cavalcanti. - ELETTRONICO. - (2023), pp. 101-122.

Luggage heavy with memories: things and gendered identity within the diasporic space

Sofia Cavalcanti
2023

Abstract

Despite the increasing feminization of migration, the intersection of gender and diaspora has been a less explored literary manifestation until recently. Moreover, the physical luggage migrants carry over to the new land, including things imbued with memory, has hardly been considered as a clue to understand the subject’s processes of identity negotiation in the diaspora. Hence, a deeper investigation of the material things through which memories work within houses, landscapes, and innerscapes is necessary in order to shed new light on how diasporic men and women negotiate the past, live the present, and envisage the future. By focusing on two short stories from Jhumpa Lahiri’s Pulitzer-Prize-winning collection The Interpreter of Maladies (1999), I will examine things as emotional anchors and establish whether they impede or facilitate belonging within the diasporic context. First, I will show how in “Mrs. Sen’s” the private museum of memories recreated by the woman protagonist in her American apartment only contributes to increase her sense of alienation and loss and transform her past home into a chimera. On the other hand, I will argue that “The Third and Final Continent” offers an example of successful negotiation of remembrance and forgetting. The male narrator’s reproduction of India through things and artifacts is not paralyzing as they enable a dialogue between here and there, present and past. In conclusion, diasporic memories—both individual and collective—act differently for men and women. If the narration of the past evoked by things can be very positive for their capacity to activate processes of self-analysis, self-discovery, and relocation, their impact on the perception of the present can be problematic. In other words, luggage heavy with memories might impede movement, increase nostalgia, and hinder the natural flux of hyphenated identities.
2023
Mobilities and Memories / Mobilidades e Memórias Transculturais
101
122
Luggage heavy with memories: things and gendered identity within the diasporic space / Sofia Cavalcanti. - ELETTRONICO. - (2023), pp. 101-122.
Sofia Cavalcanti
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/951848
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