Identity and Diasporic Trauma in Mira Jacob's “The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing”

Keywords: assimilation, memory, identity, trauma, diasporic experience

Abstract

This article explores the assimilation politics in Mira Jacob’s Novel The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing (2013). The intersection of memory, trauma, and mourning with reference to immigrant experience is discussed. In terms of assimilation, Barkan’s six stage model is critiqued, and diasporic ‘hybridity’ is proposed as an alternative to the notion of total assimilation. In the analysis of traumatic experience, the paper makes reference to Caruth’s formulations of the ‘abreactive model’. The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing (2013) is a transcultural text that represents the gap that truly exists between the first-generation immigrants and their offspring. It is a typical trauma novel featuring timeless and unspeakable experiences. The novel does not present a postcolonial collective trauma but invariably an example of diasporic imagined trauma. By presenting two contrasting generations in her novel, Mira Jacob attempts to highlight the dilemmas that baffle diasporas in the United States particularly of those that resist assimilation. Much of the narrative projects the haunting presence of home, and the anguish of personal loss experienced by first generation immigrants. Moreover, the novel questions the nostalgic and romantic engagements with the past and it promotes a bold affirmation of the culture of the adopted land. In other words, Mira Jacob calls for more genuine engagements with the new culture that the second and the third-generation immigrants are more exposed to than their home culture because their in-between status leaves them with no choice.

Author Biographies

Jameel Alghaberi, Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies, Saurashtra University, Rajkot, India

Jameel Alghaberi is a PhD scholar in the English Department at Saurashtra University, Rajkot India. His research interests include diaspora studies, postcolonial interactions, cultural identity, and hybridity.

Sanjay Mukherjee, Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies, Saurashtra University, Rajkot, India

Prof. Sanjay Mukherjee is the Head of the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies at Saurashtra University, Rajkot, India. His research interests include cultural studies, literary theory, and poetry.

References

Alexander, J. C. (2004). Toward a Theory of Cultural Trauma. Cultural Trauma and Collective Identity. Berkeley. https://doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520235946.003.0001

Antonsich, M. (2009). On territory, the nation-state and the crisis of the hyphen. Progress in human geography, 33(6), 789-806. https://doi.org/10.1177/0309132508104996

Balaev, M. (2008). Trends in literary trauma theory. Mosaic: A journal for the interdisciplinary study of literature, 149-166.

Barkan, E. (1995). Race, Religion, and Nationality in American Society: A Model of Ethnicity - From Contact to Assimilation. Journal of American ethnic History 14(2), 38-101.

Bhabha, H. (1993). Location of Culture. Routledge.

Brah, A. (1996). Cartographies of diaspora: Contesting identities. Psychology Press.

Caruth, C. (2016). Unclaimed experience: Trauma, narrative, and history. JHU Press.

Georgiou, M. (2010). Identity, space and the media: Thinking through diaspora. Revue européenne des migrations internationales, 26(1), 17-35. https://doi.org/10.4000/remi.5028

Gordon, M. M. (1973). Assimilation in American life: The role of race, religion, and national origins. Oxford University Press on Demand.

Guignery, V. (2011). Hybridity, Why It Still Matters. In Vanessa Guignery. Catherine Perso-Miquel, & Francois Specq (Eds.), Hybridity: Forms and Figures in Literature and the Visual Arts (pp. 1-10). Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Jacob, M. (2013). The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing. Bloomsbury.

Jelin, E., & Kaufman, S. G. (2017). Layers of memories: twenty years after in Argentina. In Timothy, G. A., G. Dawson, M. Roper. (Eds.), Commemorating War: The Politics of Memory. Routledge. (pp. 89-110). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315080956

Kołodziejczyk, D. (2018). From Exile to Migrancy: Eastern and Central European Models of Cosmopolitical Writing. Journal of Austrian-American History, 2(2), 91-115. https://doi.org/10.5325/jaustamerhist.2.2.0091

Mishra, V. (2007). The literature of the Indian diaspora: theorizing the diasporic imaginary. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203932728

Nederveen Pieterse, J. P. (2001). Hybridity, so what? The Anti-hybridity Backlash and the Riddles of Recognition. Theory, Culture & Society 18(2), 219-245. https://doi.org/10.1177/02632760122051715

Nititham, D. S. (2016). Making home in diasporic communities: Transnational belonging amongst Filipina migrants. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315593333

Papastergiadis, N. (2018). The turbulence of migration: Globalization, deterritorialization and hybridity. John Wiley & Sons.

Park, R. E., & Burgess, E. W. (1993). Introduction to the Science of Sociology. Chicago University Press.

Seyhan, A. (2001). Writing outside the Nation. Princeton University Press. https://doi.org/10.1515/9781400823994

Trodd, Z. (2007). Hybrid Constructions: Native Autobiography and the Open Curves of Cultural Hybridity. In: Jopi Nyman and Joel Kuortti, (Eds.), Reconstructing Hybridity: Post-Colonial Studies in Transition. Rodopi. (pp. 137–161). https://doi.org/10.1163/9789401203890_009

Visser, I. (2011). Trauma theory and postcolonial literary studies. Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 47(3), 270-282. https://doi.org/10.1080/17449855.2011.569378

Walter, E. V. (1988). Placeways: A theory of the human environment. UNC Press Books.

Weber, M. (2002). The Protestant ethic and the "spirit" of capitalism and other writings. Penguin.

Published
2021-06-01
How to Cite
Alghaberi, J., & Mukherjee, S. (2021). Identity and Diasporic Trauma in Mira Jacob’s “The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing”. English Studies at NBU, 7(1), 51-68. https://doi.org/10.33919/esnbu.21.1.4
Section
Articles