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Dissertation

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Dissertation

  1. 1. Crossing Borders: Jhumpa Lahiri's Female Immigrants and the Transgression of Physical and Ideological Boundaries in The Lowland Submitted by: Abeeha Tariq Student number: 12371886 Supervisor: Dr Sharae Deckard Word Count: 8,784 May 2015 ENG30560 This dissertation is submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of BA(Hons) English to the School of English, Drama and Film, University College Dublin
  2. 2. ABSTRACT: This dissertation will examine Jhumpa Lahiri's representations of Indian immigrant femininity in her fiction. Exploring socio-historical constructions of Indian femininity, this dissertation will demonstrate how Lahiri's early representations of first-generation female immigrants remain conventional while her second novel, The Lowland, radically breaks away from stereotypes through the complex character of Gauri, who crosses physical as well as ideological boundaries. Paralleling contemporary feminist and queer intersections within diaspora studies, which emphasise the importance of independent experiences, Lahiri depicts how individual female narratives rooted in specific socio-cultural contexts help to deconstruct homogenous and normative notions of diaspora and transnationalism.
  3. 3. CONTENTS 1. Introduction 1 2. Feminising Foreignness: Female Experience of Diaspora and Jhumpa Lahiri's Fiction 4 3. Journeying Beyond: The Lowland's Gauri and the Crossing of Geographical and Socio-Cultural Boundaries 9 4. Conclusion 17 5. List of Works Cited 19
  4. 4. 1 1. INTRODUCTION For female Indian immigrants, diaspora and transnationalism become not only a crossing of physical borders but also a transgression of ideological boundaries. Discussing diaspora and South Asian women, Yasmin Hussain writes that diasporic journeys are not simply casual travel but the crossing of physical and psychological borders (8). Hussain highlights how these "borders are politically and ideologically constructed" and this comes to bear particular significance in relation to the female Indian immigrants of Jhumpa Lahiri's fiction who must navigate particular physical and socio-cultural spaces (8). In her fourth book, The Lowland, and through the character of Gauri, Lahiri creates the image of an individual woman who not only physically traverses nations and physical borders but also crosses lines that are drawn politically, culturally and ideologically. This dissertation will follow the trajectory of Lahiri's representation of Indian immigrant women, showing how the first-generation women who populate her early fiction remain within the confines of diasporic gendered conventions while The Lowland begins to radically re-imagine Indian femininity and subvert expectations created by hetero-patriarchy and nation. Lahiri's latest novel parallels concerns of contemporary diaspora studies, especially with the intersections of feminist and queer theory that highlight the necessity of individual experiences and contexts, rather than the simplification, suppression and homogenisation of non-normative narratives. Diaspora studies became rapidly popular in the nineties, with increased focus on modern migration and dispersal patterns. William Safran, one of the leading diaspora theorists, characterised diaspora as a community of people who had been displaced, "exiled or expatriated," across space, using the classical example of the Jewish diaspora as his basis (84-86). His understanding of diaspora, like much work on it during the nineties, emphasised the "homeland", the "original" place from which people dispersed and desired to recreate abroad or return to (84). Diaspora studies began to develop from the classical models of the Jewish, Greek and Armenian diasporas to more transnational movement among communities in modern times, analysing the forced dispersal of the African diaspora, and the South Asian diaspora, characterised by postcolonial exile as well as professional migration. Rogers Brubaker, writing many years later, identified three key characteristics of diaspora: dispersion, homeland orientation and boundary-maintenance – still maintaining that homeland, a fixed space, was essential to diaspora (5-6). Stuart Hall highlighted the nature of constantly developing diasporic identities, claiming that "the diaspora experience... is defined not by essence or purity, but by the recognition of a necessary heterogeneity and diversity; by a conception of 'identity' which lives with and through, not despite, difference; by hybridity" (235). He observed that binary divisions of diaspora limited the nature of developing cultural identities that were increasingly shaped by fluidity rather than nationalist notions of dichotomies and stability. As perception and analysis of diaspora and transnationality increased, Khachig Tölölyan noted "the increasing collapse of the distinction between diaspora and dispersion" (648). He observes that it is best not to think of diaspora as "a fixed concept and social formation but as a process of collective identification... marked by ever- changing differences that chart the shifting boundaries of certain communities" (650). He noted that diaspora became increasingly associated with "transnationalism and its associated
  5. 5. 2 border crossing" (651). Diaspora was characterised by mobility and movement that was largely connected to masculinity, limiting the diversity within diasporic experience. Tracking this development of diaspora studies, Sandhya Mehta observes that "the complexity of the term 'diaspora' soon allowed for the term to be used in various cultural, social, economic and ethnic contexts, all of which remained largely patriarchal" (3). In her influential book, Impossible Desires, Gayatri Gopinath discusses the etymology of "diaspora." She highlights the "patriarchal and heteronormative underpinnings of the term" by quoting Stefan Helmreich's definition, meaning a "scattering of seeds"; emphasising the masculine connotations of the word and concept (5). Diaspora has historically been linked with male mobility while the "condition of 'home boundedness' is gendered in most cultures as feminine" (Puar 88). Despite developments within diaspora studies, nation, domesticity, and home are concepts that remain widely connected with femininity while migration, travel and mobility are linked with the realm of the masculine. The intersections of gender and sexuality with diaspora are increasingly being analysed. Theorists call for the continuous re- assessment of diaspora and its normative associations in contemporary times, highlighting the need for a focus on gender and sexuality and their relationship to diaspora and transnationalism in order to avoid simplifying and homogenising the concept. Jasbir Puar notes that "constructions of diaspora that hinge upon masculinist constructions of home and travel are, for the most part, inattentive to gender and silent on sexuality" (407). Similarly, Sandhya Mehta notes how diaspora has historically been figured as a "heteronormative experience" with little focus on feminine and queer subjectivities which causes the field to remain largely normative (1). In the continually developing field of diaspora studies, more attention is being given to the movement beyond borders not only pertaining to nation but those of society and culture, which involve gender, sexuality, race and religion. Mehta highlights that "diaspora studies are increasingly pointing to ways in which individual experiences of travel and migration are rooted in particular contexts and that no theory would adequately reflect the complexities of diaspora in the contemporary context" (2). Modern diaspora studies are increasingly calling for a more nuanced approach to diaspora, that avoids the homogenisation and simplified categorisation that past studies relied on, highlighting the incredibly complex nature of contemporary diaspora. Jhumpa Lahiri's fiction focuses on the Indian diaspora. Departing from masculine conceptions of diaspora, Lahiri feminises the diasporic experience in her narratives of first- generation female immigrants. While the women of Lahiri's earlier fiction – Interpreter of Maladies, The Namesake, Unaccustomed Earth – remain to be stereotypical representations of domesticated Indian femininity, her latest novel, The Lowland, represents a break away from conventional notions of Indian immigrant womanhood that have been established socio- historically. Lahiri's female immigrants are represented as being caught between multiple geographical locations as well as national and patriarchal constructions of ideal Indian femininity that aim to simplify and homogenise individual female experiences of diaspora and transnationality. By representing a unique and complex female character, Lahiri challenges conventional constructions of Indian womanhood which are proliferated in the diaspora and her own earlier fiction. Paralleling the concerns of contemporary feminist and queer intersections within the Indian diaspora, Lahiri invests Gauri with a particular social,
  6. 6. 3 cultural and political context that shapes her narrative and her decisions, rather than choosing to depict her as the homogenous ideal of the good Indian woman. By representing a politicised, culturally-aware and non-heterosexual woman, Lahiri gives voice to those individual female narratives that have been overlooked throughout the history of diaspora studies, which largely remain heteronormative and patriarchal. While Lahiri's earlier fiction does not focus on the specific ways in which many of the women cross ideological as well as physical boundaries, The Lowland represents a move away from more conventional depictions in order to examine these boundaries. Gauri is a female immigrant who challenges and crosses the socio-cultural and physical boundaries that are constructed to contain her. Lahiri's radical re-representation of Indian women is achieved through Gauri whose choices throughout The Lowland sever her from the image of the traditional Indian woman that Lahiri's previous works have so carefully and meticulously depicted and, in this way, she becomes a more realistic and complex character who effectively alters perceptions and understandings of Indian immigrant womanhood.
  7. 7. 4 2. FEMINISING FOREIGNESS: FEMALE EXPERIENCE OF DIASPORA AND JHUMPA LAHIRI'S FICTION Jhumpa Lahiri's influentially feminises the diaspora in her fiction. Through her multi- generational stories, Lahiri reverses gendered ideals of the Indian diaspora by portraying the lives of first-generation female immigrants. Lahiri emphasises the displacement and alienation that female immigrants experience, creating a more exilic feminised image of diaspora. Utilising the work of critics within diaspora, gender and sexuality studies, this chapter will explore how Lahiri's earlier fiction – her short-story collections, Interpreter of Maladies and Unaccustomed Earth, and first novel, The Namesake – represents conventional images of Indian femininity. Lahiri's work conveys how notions of home and travel are gendered in specific socio-historical ways, but this chapter will then move onto exploring how Lahiri's second novel The Lowland differs, disrupting these long-held diasporic ideals and pushing against the boundaries that limit the subjectivity of individual female narratives. Female immigrants in Lahiri's earlier work largely remain within the confines of conventions, created by nation and patriarchy in order to simplify and homogenise diasporic experience, while The Lowland drastically challenges these narratives of womanhood, and succeeds in portraying how individual female immigrants move not only physically but also psychologically and ideologically, through the character of Gauri. While Gopinath addresses the etymology of "diaspora" and its masculine connotations, Lahiri reverses this perception of diasporic experience in The Namesake when Ashima, the immigrant wife and mother, contemplates her displacement in America: For being a foreigner... is a sort of lifelong pregnancy – a perpetual wait, a constant burden, a continuous feeling out of sorts. It is an ongoing responsibility, a parenthesis in what had once been an ordinary life, only to discover that the previous life has vanished, replaced by something more complicated and demanding. (49-50) Lahiri feminises the diasporic experience in this extract. Concilio observes that "by comparing this kind of existential condition of exile to pregnancy Lahiri manages to convey a powerful gendered perspective on otherness, migration and postcolonial discourse" (99). This passage highlights the responsibilities and expectations that are placed on female immigrants in the diaspora, demonstrating the requirements of biological and cultural reproduction that are usually assigned to women. This direct reference to the reproductive process signifies the task of recreating the home abroad, physically and culturally, as one which is assigned to female Indian immigrants who are expected to remain within the domestic sphere. Alfonso- Forero, in regards to the political purposes of gender roles in postcolonial India, notes that women were positioned "as the guardians and propagators of Indian culture" (854). Ashima's diasporic situation elicits a feeling of "exile and uprootedness," that often pervades the stories of Lahiri's female immigrants (Concilio 99). This shows how ideas about a fixed, stable home become confused within the diaspora, highlighting how women are still burdened with the
  8. 8. 5 task of creating and maintaining it. Lahiri reverses notions of diaspora, by refocusing it on the women who are required to maintain the home and culture in a foreign country. Sandhya Mehta notes that "while the choice of moving from one physical location to another is primarily seen to be a male one... the onus of retaining memories of home, of recreating them within new contexts and ultimately acting as cultural harbingers of homeland culture, remain vividly feminine" (1). This is particularly true of the Indian diaspora, as women become symbols of national and cultural purity, used to re-affirm and reproduce Indian culture and tradition within the diaspora. Jhumpa Lahiri's works focus on a particular subset of the Indian diaspora: male professionals who leave India in order to pursue academic and/or economic pursuits, accompanied by their wives. Their migration as academics and professionals is facilitated by the 1965 immigration bill which allowed certain types immigrants to enter America (Cheung and Dhingra 30). Interpreter of Maladies's Mrs. Sen, The Namesake's Ashima, Unaccustomed Earth's Chitra and The Lowland's Gauri are all women who accompany their husbands abroad after marriage, showing the problematic ways in which these women's movements are largely facilitated and accompanied by men. In these stories, the men are characterised as moving more freely while women's agency and mobility is limited. Women become tied to notions of home and domesticity while men pursue careers. Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt notes that in much of Lahiri's fiction, "the women join their husbands as housewives and depend on their spouses to introduce them to America" while "the men come to America as intellectual migrants and work as professors, librarians and company executives" (66). Economic differences become apparent as the women are not afforded the same agency as their professional male counterparts. The women become confined to the domestic space, unable or unwilling to depart from it and thus the diasporic experience for women becomes more alienating and exilic. In depicting her characters in this way, Lahiri "portrays migration and foreignness as a gendered phenomenon" (66). It is through heterosexual marriage that these women are able to leave behind India but arriving in America carries its own complications and demands for these women. Chatterji and Washbrook write that "it has so often been claimed that women migrants abroad reproduce the culture of 'home' that the proposition is now taken for granted" (7). Women are assumed to maintain culture through food, dress and religion, preserving and policing the "ethnic boundaries of... diasporic communities" (7). Ashidhara Das discusses how Indian immigrant women are idealized by their families and communities, "expected to be culturally and morally perfect" (59) and Tamara Bhalla highlights how "South Asian women bear the burden of replicating a homogenous ethnic 'authenticity'" (119). The ideal, good Indian woman is meant to be "maternal, accommodating, gentle, self-effacing, serving, kind, and chaste" - an image that has been created over generations and one which dominates Lahiri's earlier depictions of immigrant women (Roy 105). The "centring of women as an integral part of definitions of family" was created by nation and proliferated within diaspora too (Mehta 6). Immigrant women become assigned "homemaking roles", tasked with upholding tradition and culture abroad (6). The image of the immigrant woman at the centre of the home, burdened with reproducing and maintaining culture has been proliferated socio-historically and affects the perception and lives of female immigrants. Many critics highlight this reductive image of the traditional Indian wife and mother, calling for the need to assess
  9. 9. 6 individual experiences of diaspora in order to accurately portray it and also to widen the ways in which we understand its effects. Individual female narratives are overlooked in order to reinforce a patriarchal, national and community ideal. Bound by conventions, individual women suffer as they try to maintain a particular image of familial, cultural life. Diasporic grand narratives aim to simplify and homogenise the female experience of diaspora and transnationalism and much of Lahiri's early work depicts this conventional image of Indian women, focusing little on individual contexts and situations. Lahiri's earlier work does not radically move beyond the conventional image of the female Indian immigrant while she influentially feminises the diasporic experience, opening it up beyond its masculine connotations. Mrs. Sen, Ashima and Chitra are women who fall within the category of conventional while, as I will later explore, Gauri transgresses these ideological boundaries that are made to contain these women. While Mrs. Sen, Ashima and Chitra traverse nations, they ultimately remain confined within the categories of the good Indian woman and their mobility and agency remains limited in Lahiri's fiction. While Lahiri depicts these women travelling physically (mostly aided by their male partners), they rarely transgress expectations and roles. Brubaker discusses how boundary-maintenance is characteristic of diaspora and, as examined earlier, the Indian diaspora achieves this through its female members (6). Through food, dress, language, religious and cultural traditions, Mrs. Sen, Ashima and Chitra preserve Indian culture in America, sparked by their desire to keep ties with the country they left. They speak Bengali and wear traditional saris and vermilion in their hair, culturally marking them. They remain within the domestic space, particularly being associated with the kitchen and Indian cuisine. Yun Ling notes how "women hold a very important part in preserving the ethnic food culture" and Lahiri conveys this through her emphasis on how these women create traditional Bengali dishes for their families and Indian-American community (75). These women tirelessly maintain an "imagined homeland" (76). Mrs. Sen spends her time in her apartment, chopping vegetables and preparing fish, trying to recreate tastes from India. Ashima creates a little community of Bengalis, a "microcosm of the India that was left behind" and organises parties and meticulously cooks for her guests (Alfonso-Forero 856). Chitra is referred to as "old-fashioned" as she occupies the kitchen and rarely moves beyond her particular way of life (Lahiri 264). Lahiri's earlier characters remain within the "traditional Indian ideals of a 'good woman'" (Roy 105). Lahiri portrays these women in positive and sympathetic ways, highlighting how diasporic separation emotionally and psychologically affects them, but her representation sacrifices their own subjectivity and individuality when keeping them within conventional ideals of womanhood. Lahiri's fiction is concerned with the themes of travel and mobility. In many of her stories, driving a car comes to signify the ability to move physically and psychologically. As Alfonso-Forero observes, driving is a detail that "reminds us of the significance of mobility in Lahiri's fiction, as it is linked to the ability to permeate cultural borders" (858). It comes to signify agency and initiative. Mrs. Sen refuses to learn how to drive out of fear and stops driving after one incident, tired of the requirements of life in America (Lahiri, Interpreter, 131). Similarly, Ashima is reluctant to learn how to drive, preferring to stay within the family home. At first she has "no interest in learning how to drive" but this gradually changes (Namesake 49). By the end of The Namesake, she has a car and license but "though she is
  10. 10. 7 willing to drive herself around their town, she is not willing to get on the highway" to travel long distances (163). Chitra also claims "I would not like to learn" when she is told driving is easy (Unaccustomed 270). These women share unwillingness and anxiety when it comes to mobility. Rajyasree Sen highlights how interchangeable Lahiri's female immigrants become, stripped of individuality in order to depict their gendered role within the family and community (par. 9). These women become associated and confined to the domestic sphere in these stories and Lahiri does little to emphasise their individuality or cause them to move beyond the culturally-constructed categories of the conventional Indian woman. The women prefer to travel out of their domestic environments with their husbands and it is only after her husband's death that Ashima is shown to drive and fly alone. It is after selling her house at the end of The Namesake, that which offered her the illusion of stability and personal fulfillment, that Ashima is displaced once again, no longer being able to remain within the home that she worked to maintain. The story ends there, Lahiri avoids depicting Ashima's life after she removes herself from the domestic sphere, meaning that Ashima remains the traditional wife and mother character, despite movement beyond the home. Unlike Lahiri's earlier immigrants, The Lowland's Gauri wishes to move beyond the confines of her family apartment alone but cannot. The absence of a car heightens her isolation; she remains in the house with her young daughter "without a car in which they might go anywhere, without a break" – the domestic space for her is entrapment (Lahiri 206). Shamita Dasgupta states how "the general populace still tends to perceive [South Asian women] in stereotypes: docile, subservient, passive, politically unaware, asexual, and bound by traditions" (1). She discusses that while these categories are convenient, they fail to accurately represent the realities of diasporic women's lives, simplifying their lived experiences. She observes that "to assume home in terms of fixed geography belies [their] experiences of physical as well as psychological movement" (1). In this way, Dasgupta influentially highlights how transnational experiences of travel and movement affect women not only physically but ideologically. For women, negotiating borders and boundaries extends to those of society and culture. Home for immigrant women thus cannot be defined as a stable, immovable space as the concept of home for them "has long been fluid and ever- changing" (2). Dasgupta highlights the inadequacy of patriarchal, nationalist notions of home in the lives of diasporic women, emphasising the failure of the essentialist image of the Indian woman in accurately depicting individual lived experiences. It is necessary to move beyond the domestic space when examining female Indian immigrants, focusing on how movement and diasporic displacement affects individual lives. Women are considered to be the agents of boundary-maintenance but they also hold power in negotiating, erasing, and blurring these boundaries. While Lahiri's earlier female immigrants remain interchangeable and homogenous, confined to domesticated roles, Gauri becomes a character who not only transcends physical barriers, she also transgresses the cultural expectations of wife and mother that are placed on her. In The Lowland, Lahiri, paralleling feminist and queer intersections in the field of diaspora studies, highlights the need to focus on individual female and non-normative narratives for nuance and contextual perspective, rather than sacrificing them for the sake of an essentialist image of the Indian diasporic community in America. Mehta claims that "the
  11. 11. 8 articulation of distinct experiences within specific forms of diasporic experience emerges at the centre of narratives of women who attempt to move beyond the limits of socially and culturally constructed identities" (6). Thus travelling beyond not only physical but ideological boundaries becomes important in providing a more nuanced image of diasporic experience. Lahiri delivers this individualised narrative of female immigration through Gauri. Gauri is similar to Lahiri's early characters in-so-much as she only migrates after her marriage and that she is also a wife and mother, confined to the domestic space and within expectations at first. But Gauri actively aims to move beyond the boundaries that contain her. Lahiri's earlier work essentially represents the "clichés of South Asian identity and femininity" (Bhalla 119) but The Lowland moves beyond these stereotypes. While Lahiri's portrayal of first-generation female immigrants in her earlier stories remains conventional, The Lowland represents a break away from these images by portraying a culturally- and self-aware, politicised, queer woman who abandons the expectations of immigrant womanhood that are placed on her by nation and patriarchy. Gauri rejects and defies the conventions of Indian femininity. She is politically involved, sexually experimental and aware, ambiguous in her moral rendering. She drastically abandons her duties as wife and mother, of biological and cultural reproduction, by permanently leaving the familial domestic space, altering notions of immigrant femininity and domesticity. Shamita Dasgupta, in deconstructing notions of South Asian femininity, observes that "this journey to spaces beyond [their] 'assigned' place is not new to [South Asian women]" but that it is widely ignored by homogenous diasporic narratives (3). Lahiri's portrayal of Gauri exemplifies Dasgupta's sentiments, depicting the varied nature of Indian femininity and the problematic nature of confining women within expectations of cultural and moral purity, dictated by nationalist-patriarchal ideals. In the next chapter, I will explore the extent of Gauri's transgression of geographical and socio-cultural spaces and how this affects her position and reception as a diasporic Indian woman.
  12. 12. 9 3. JOURNEYING BEYOND: THE LOWLAND'S GAURI AND THE CROSSING OF GEOGRAPHICAL AND SOCIO-CULTURAL BOUNDARIES The Lowand spans over four generations and nearly sixty years, beginning with the lives of two brothers, Subhash and Udayan Mitra, growing up in the fifties and sixties in Calcutta. At the centre of their story is Gauri, who occupies various roles throughout the novel: daughter, sister, wife, widow, mother – but what is most striking about Gauri is her transgression of these roles. She marries twice, first Udayan and, after his death, Subhash, becoming central to the novel. Gauri complicates the roles and expectations of Indian womanhood, as outlined in the previous chapter, as Lahiri uses her in deconstructing them. Gauri represents a break away from the conventional images of the Indian woman of the nation and diaspora. She transgresses not only geographical boundaries but also socio- cultural ones through the choices she makes. With her growing awareness of the impositions of politics and culture around her, Gauri embarks on a journey of self-realisation and self- fashioning, choosing her individual autonomy over the requirements of communal diasporic and patriarchal-national identity. She appears conventional at the beginning but the novel traces her movement beyond and subversion of the essentialist image of the Indian woman. As a politicised and queer figure, Gauri challenges the grand narratives of diasporic women's identity, and highlights how intersections of feminist and queer theory within diaspora studies, with their emphasis on individual rather than collective narratives, disrupt the normative depictions of diasporic Indian femininity. Gauri challenges the homogenous construction of Indian women that Lahiri's previous works have depicted and portrays Lahiri's radical reimagining of women with individual subjectivities, whose choices convey how they re-negotiate the categories and boundaries around them. Gauri is first introduced as Udayan's wife in a letter he sends Subhash in America. From the beginning, Gauri begins to be seen and judged in the framework of male perspectives, as Subhash views a picture of her and tries to read her. Their male perspectives limit the way in which she is perceived and understood. Gauri defies conventions by marrying Udayan, something neither of their families approve of. She is forced to live with his parents after their marriage and find herself trapped in a traditional home where she is not wanted by her in-laws. Udayan's involvement in the Naxalite movement and particularly in the murder of a policeman culminates in his own death soon after by police, which Gauri views from a terrace. Gauri's own involvement in the movement is at first unclear but the politicised Indian landscape disrupts the life that she thought she would lead. After Udayan's death, Gauri, discovering she is pregnant, feels even more imprisoned as her mother-in-law forces her to obey customs and mark herself as a widow at twenty-three. Subhash returns from America and prompts Gauri to speak up, learning of her unhappiness in his old home. He persuades her to marry him and migrate, saying that "in America no one knew about the movement, no one would bother her" (Lahiri 141). Gauri, yearning for escape, elopes with him, despite the disdain of her in-laws and follows him abroad. Lahiri's problematic rendering of female mobility is replicated here as it is only through her marriage to Subhash
  13. 13. 10 that Gauri is able to leave. She acknowledges that "Subhash had handed her the possibility" of leaving Tollygunge but Gauri's own willingness plays a part in deciding her movements, however limited (150). Her choices, both her marriages, are unconventional yet also restricted at the beginning of the novel, but show how Gauri is a character who subtly trangresses expectations. Lahiri conflates pregnancy with foreignness again as Gauri arrives in America pregnant. This marks her as a diasporic Indian woman, expected to recreate the home culture abroad but this is reversed by Lahiri when she depicts the couple's early life in Rhode Island. In the beginning, Subhash, understanding of Gauri's grief, takes on the roles that would usually be assigned to wives. He cooks and maintains the home, subverting the gender roles of male-mobility and female-domesticity that have been widely proliferated by patriarchy and nation. Lahiri gradually depicts Gauri as distancing herself from the image of the domesticated immigrant woman, though she remains physically confined to the home. Gauri detangles herself from the expectations of Indian womanhood and this is depicted through her lack of involvement within the home, her behaviour, her clothing and her academic pursuits outside of the home. She remains mentally distanced from Subhash, remaining isolated and uninterested in life in America. Subhash brings her to a get-together of other diasporic Indians. Subhash hopes that this will help Gauri but this further heightens her sense of alienation. She claims she has "nothing in common" with the women at the party (166). Gauri feels out-of-place in the company of the Indian wives and mothers who spend their time "talking about children, about recipes, about organizing a Diwali festival on campus" (165). This environment, which Lahiri depicts in her previous fiction as being empowering and comforting to Indian immigrant women, only reinforces that this fails to accommodate Gauri. It is inadequate in comforting her in her geographical and psychological displacement. Lahiri displays Gauri as a woman who is incompatible with this image of the conventional diasporic woman and raises questions about the sufficiency of such a homogenous understanding of women in accurately representing and being fulfilling for individual women located within specific contexts. Amit Saha writes that diasporic "self-fashioning is... the mental adjustment to combat the pangs of physical dislocation and... the physical adjustment to allay the sense of alienation" (2). Confined to the domestic space, Gauri attempts to fashion herself at first by changing her physical appearance. She begins to feel uncomfortable in the saris she has always worn and decides to trade them for the clothes she sees women around campus wearing. One day Subhash returns home to this scene: On the dressing table was a pair of scissors that he normally kept in the kitchen drawer, along with clumps of her hair. In one corner of the floor all of her saris, and her petticoats and blouses, were lying in ribbons and scraps of various shapes and sizes, as if an animal had shredded the fabric with its teeth and claws... She had destroyed everything. (Lahiri 166) Gauri's anger and frustration are clearly conveyed in this scene. She furiously exacts violence against the image of herself she grows to hate. She severs herself dramatically from the expectations of how she should be as an Indian wife and mother who intends on passing on culture to her child. She claims that she "tired" of her old clothes and hair, angering Subhash
  14. 14. 11 who is shocked to see her completely changed: "he found it disturbing... such destructive behavior couldn't have been good for the child" (167). He holds her to standards that neglect attention to her mental well-being, failing to pay attention to why she destroyed her clothes, worrying only about the unborn baby. Subhash, being the calm opposing force to his rebellious brother since childhood, is the figure who is consistently described as relying on tradition and customs (Felicelli par. 7). Gauri's clothes had started to feel like material trappings for her, reminding her of the life she had with Udayan but Subhash does not understand this. He fails to acknowledge her frustration, and this scene, viewed through his eyes, portrays her as a senseless animal acting out. Ashidhara Das emphasises that "cultural reproduction has been achieved at the expense of the well-being of many of the female members of the Indian diasporic community" and that it is done by "sacrificing female individuation and autonomy" (59). This is conveyed with Subhash and Gauri. Subhash does not wonder after Gauri's mental state, about what caused her to act like she did and finds it an affront to his ideals that she has destroyed her own clothes. He is the one who places expectations of motherhood and female obedience on Gauri, "expecting him and Gauri and Bela to carry on as a family. For Gauri to be a mother to Bela, and to remain a wife to him" (Lahiri 180). Sayantani and Shamita Dasgupta highlight that the construction of the conventional and ideal image of Indian diasporic women as being "chaste, modest, nurturing, obedient, and loyal" has been dominated by the Indian male bourgeoisie who largely control the diasporic community (326). Gauri falls short of this image because of her destruction – she is meant to create and preserve, not destroy. Mehta (6) demonstrates that the diasporic formation of women follows from nationalist ideals and Lahiri depicts this, showing how Udayan too held patriarchal expectations of Gauri: "Udayan had wanted a revolution, but at home he'd expected to be served; his only contribution to his meals was to sit and wait for Gauri or her mother-in-law to put a plate before him" (Lahiri 149). Even Udayan, with his visions of political liberation, neglected the confines of culture that women are subject to. Lahiri depicts men as being the upholders of tradition, imposing it on women like Gauri, and challenges the ideological construction of Indian womanhood as being the ultimate goal for and purpose of women by having Gauri reject it. It is not empowering for Gauri when she becomes a mother. She feels disconnected from her daughter, Bela, from the moment she is born. Afraid of harming her, she decides to "handle Bela less" (172). She does not become an imposing mother figure but allows Bela her independence as she grows up, mirroring Gauri's own desire for liberation. Gauri does not feel the same maternal instincts as other women, believing that she is "failing at something every other woman on earth did without trying" (195). This generalisation of motherhood parallels the ideals of the conventional Indian woman and makes Gauri feel inadequate. Gauri's supposed failure to meet the expectations of motherhood leaves her "ashamed" and "frightened" because raising Bela is not "bringing meaning to her life" (194). Her relationship to Bela develops differently to other mother-daughter relationships she sees around her. Bela's independence and quiet solitude echo Gauri's own. Gauri and Bela accept the distance between them, preferring it –Lahiri depicts closeness between them "based on the fact that they spent time apart" (243). Gauri leaves Bela at home as a young child in order to get away
  15. 15. 12 and later lets Bela roam unsupervised when she is slightly older, despite knowing Subhash's disapproval. Subhash is horrified to see that Gauri is not the attentive mother he expects her to be, failing to see that both mother and daughter are more comfortable this way. Lahiri problematises the image of the Indian mother figure with Gauri by showing how the inability to live up to the idealised version of femininity impacts and confuses Gauri, making her feel like a failure. Through Gauri and Bela's distanced relationship, Lahiri re-imagines diasporic motherhood, both characters preferring their own individual autonomy over trying to recreate restrictive ties. Gauri chooses not to pass on cultural traditions, despite being a mother. When Subhash takes Bela back to India for a trip as a child, her grandmother asks her "your mother hasn't taught you to keep [your hair] tied?" and Bela, confused, thinks of how "her mother had never told her this. Her mother wore her hair as short as a man's" (235). As women are usually assigned the role of boundary-maintenance, they also hold the power of re- negotiating and changing those ideological and cultural boundaries which Gauri does as she indulges in a form of motherhood that actively seeks to free her from constraints. Lahiri depicts Gauri's growing awareness of the geographical and socio-cultural boundaries that hinder her freedom. She becomes aware of her entrapment within the domestic space and how it confines her physically and ideologically. Her sense of confinement only intensifies after Bela's birth when she realises that her life is not one she desires. She remains in the family home "without a car in which they might go anywhere, without a break" – her mobility is limited (206). The house becomes prison-like for Gauri who becomes aware of her own helplessness as the Indian wife and mother. In Gauri's life, the home becomes "a gendered space shaped by different and unequal relations of power" and a place that is "alienating and unhappy rather than loving and secure" (Blunt 6). Gauri depends on Subhash entirely, lacking the ability to move completely freely outside the home and relying on him for finance: "she was a student, without an income... Gauri wouldn't survive without him" (Lahiri 210). Unlike Subhash who comes and goes freely, Gauri remains confined to the house and consequentially to the expectations of diasporic women. When she expresses her wish to continue her college education and hire a babysitter, Subhash refuses, "not wanting to pay a stranger to care for Bela" (192). As a mother, Subhash expects Gauri to relish caring for Bela and restricts her agency: though he had encouraged her to visit the library in her spare time, to attend lectures now and again, she realized that he didn't consider this her work. Though he'd told her... that she could go on with her studies, in America, now he told her that her priority should be Bela. (192) Subhash does not believe that Gauri should require anything else in her life when she is already a mother, denying her desires to be more than a mother and wife, portraying patriarchal influences on the construction of female Indian identity. Gauri does not voice her unhappiness, remaining quiet, perhaps silenced by Subhash's unwillingness to accommodate her specific needs and desires, but Bela later in life realises that her mother "had transmitted an unhappiness that was steady, an ambient signal that was fixed. It was transmitted without words" (322). Gauri's unhappiness and anxiety over being physically and ideologically confined result in her drastic decision to abandon Subhash and Bela, leaving the family home
  16. 16. 13 permanently. Her departure is shocking for Subhash and Bela when they return to find the house empty, rid of the mother figure that is meant to be central to it. By removing the immigrant mother from the home, Lahiri destabilises conventional images of the Indian diaspora. The home is not empowering for Gauri but toxic and repressive. Gauri chooses herself over familial responsibilities and expectations, challenging the self-sacrificing image of the mother. She transgresses the boundaries of home along with the socio-cultural roles that patriarchy and nation designed for women. Lahiri's radical re-representation of the Indian woman places a focus on her individual subjectivity and narrative rather than conforming to conventions like the immigrant mothers who populate her earlier fiction do. Yasmin Hussain states "that two types of women are presented in Indian women's fiction, the conventional and the unconventional" (56). While the former is represented by the immigrant women in Lahiri's previous works, Gauri becomes the unconventional woman with the choices she makes. Hussain highlights that unconventional women "violate and question the accepted norms of society" and consequently suffer (56). Their unconventional decisions result in alienation from family and community, which Lahiri depicts with Gauri (56). Feeling alienated within the domestic space, Gauri chooses to isolate herself completely in order to fashion a space that is more adequate in accommodating her. If she remained within the home, Gauri acknowledges that she would have to remain under Subhash's expectations: "[Subhash] had brought her to America and then, like an animal briefly observed, briefly caged, released her" (Lahiri 289). Subhash has no hand in allowing Gauri to leave but he does not attempt to bring her back and Gauri's release into the world outside is freedom for her. This moment echoes the scene where Gauri destroyed her clothes years ago, resenting her social and physical confinement. Lahiri again uses the image of the animal, showing how Subhash's perceives Gauri more as something to be owned, tested and controlled than an individual woman. Gauri traverses America and the ideological barriers that keep her in place as she leaves. The theme of journey is important and, as Gauri leaves, she leaves behind notions of how she should be. Rather than being fixed into the stereotypical role of the female Indian immigrant, Gauri becomes an individual woman trying to find a physical and mental space for herself among a landscape of displacement and alienation. This is something that she has attempted since childhood: "aware of her accidental arrival, she had not known who she was, where or to whom she'd belonged" (72). In retrospect, Gauri reflects on the moment she left, remembering that leaving required "the sheer exhaustion of effort. As if, in order to escape Rhode Island, she'd walked every step of the way" (277). Leaving seems monumental. Gauri acknowledges that "with her own hand she'd painted herself into a corner, and then out of the picture altogether." (276). Leaving demonstrates Gauri's gradual physical autonomy. Her new life pushes her further into isolation from the image of the conventional women but allows Gauri to renegotiate, on her own terms, her life. The narrative structure highlights that even years later, when Bela is an adult, Gauri still revisits her decision to leave, the impact that it had on their entire dysfunctional family. Mehta, discussing Maria Ng's memoirs, mentions how she could not start hers at the beginning "the way conventional, male traditions of narration did, for, 'this linear progression is a narrative that bears no resemblance to the constantly shifting perspectives that present themselves as one reviews one's life and tries to
  17. 17. 14 make sense of events" (8). Unlike Subhash's narrative which follows in a mainly linear manner, Gauri's narrative is disrupted, moving back and forth in time as she suffers from psychological discomfort and the trauma that pervade her life. Gauri is constantly plagued by the past, despite trying to distance herself from it and trying to make sense of her own decisions. It is through her fragmented reflections that we learn of Gauri's involvements in the politics of Naxalite India. Lahiri gradually unfolds how Gauri functioned in the death of the police officer in Calcutta that led to Udayan's own death. The trauma of both her own involvement and Udayan's death affects Gauri continuously, causing her to want a new start that she never fully achieves because of her mental restlessness. Gauri was used by Udayan to secretly record the comings and goings of the police officer from his home, information used to locate and attack him. Gauri is displaced physically, but she also remains in a state of trauma that affects how she sees the world and how her narrative is shaped. Gauri constantly revisits the past mentally while trying to physically distance herself from it. Gauri is "firmly rooted in the moment of Udayan's death" (Felicelli par. 14). Lahiri shows how specific political contexts shape Gauri's life and displacement. She depicts her gradual awareness of the ways in which she has been constrained as it is through wifely obedience in the first place that she ended up involved in politics she did not fully understand. Dhingra and Cheung, writing before The Lowland's publication, discuss how "Lahiri's fiction neither highlights the racial identity or the cultural politics of her characters" and that this implies "they live in a more de-racialized and de-classed U.S. political landscape than is the socio-historical reality" (xvii). Lahiri reverses this in The Lowland by emphasising the political landscape of India and America throughout the novel and Gauri's own personal-political contexts. Gauri becomes a politicised woman in this novel, unlike the image of the apolitical conventional female immigrant. Gauri has a growing awareness of politics in India and America, through the newspapers she reads on campus, which discuss: what it meant to be a black person in America, or a woman, or a homosexual. Long articles focused on forms of exploitation, individual identities. She wondered if Udayan would have scorned them for being self- indulgent. For being concerned less with changing the lives of others than with asserting and improving their own. (Lahiri 158) Lahiri depicts Gauri's gradually developing politics as being different from Udayan's because of her disillusionment with his political vision. Gauri indulges in politics that she sees as being more individualistic, improving collectives one person at a time. Wanting autonomy, this is what causes her to look after herself first and leave the stifling space she shared with Subhash. Gauri becomes more invested in individualistic politics, paralleling modern concerns about diaspora studies and the need to focus on individual narratives rooted in particular contexts rather than those of homogenous collectives. By understanding her political involvement and trauma, Gauri's decisions can be better understood and contextualised. Despite being tasked with biological and cultural reproduction, immigrant women are ideologically constructed to be chaste and desexualised beings but Lahiri subverts these expectations through Gauri. Not only is Gauri aware of her sexuality and how to use it but
  18. 18. 15 she is also depicted as a queer figure by Lahiri. While her sexuality is not dwelt on, Gauri is shown to transgress the conventional images of Indian motherhood through her construction as a sexualised being. Gauri's brief relationship with a woman named Lorna highlights Gauri's refusal of convention. Gauri's relationship with Lorna is also the first time where Gauri is the one in a position of power as Lorna is her student. The relationship becomes a scandalous occurrence not only because of Gauri's queerness but because her student-teacher relationship also breaches boundaries. Gauri "had no recollection of crossing a line that drove her to desire a woman's body," implying that such an invisible line indeed exists for her as an immigrant woman and that she gradually becomes able to move across it (284). As a "nonheterosexual Indian woman", Gauri occupies "a space of impossibility" in the eyes of the hetero-patriarchal nation and diaspora and this results in her failure to understand her own desires at first (Gopinath 18). Queer women radically disrupt national and diasporic constructions of femininity (15). Gopinath highlights that "it is through women's bodies that the borders and boundaries of communal identities are formed" (9) and Lahiri's ambiguous configuration of Gauri as a queer figure erodes these boundaries. She becomes unconventional and uncontrollable. As a queer diasporic woman, Gauri challenges heteronormative and patriarchal understandings of diaspora, renegotiating boundaries, and emphasises her alienation from traditional notions of Indian immigrant womanhood. Lahiri's representation of Gauri highlights the necessity of focusing on individual diasporic narratives, especially those of queer, unconventional Indian women who remain limited in their expression and reception. Bela tries to erase her mother from her memory after her abandonment but accepts that unhappiness and confinement pervaded Gauri's life when she learns the truth. Subhash wonders how Gauri's "heart could be so cold" but also acknowledges that her choices and actions had been "honest" (Lahiri 267; 318). Critics have strong reactions to Gauri. Clare Sestanovich considers "her rugged individualism" to be "chilling" (par. 9). Eileen Battersby calls her "an unfeeling robot" (par. 9) while Katherine Powers considers her a "self-absorbed monster" (par. 7). James Lasdun feels that her depiction is "infuriatingly" compassionate (par. 6) and Savita Iyer-Ahrestani labels her "a selfish and heartless woman" (par. 2). These critics show how unpalatable this figure of the unconventional women still remains. Their critiques fixate on Gauri's abandonment and her insistent desire to make her own choices. They neglect the effects of her alienation within the patriarchal home culture, her feelings of inadequacy as a mother, and how her past political trauma impinges on her life, choosing to label her as a woman with selfish desires. Stephanie Merritt observes that the revelations about the characters involvement in politics demand that we "revise our opinions of the characters and their actions" (par. 6). While she is rendered morally ambiguous, understanding Gauri's social context and political trauma helps to understand her drastic decisions. These critics neglect Gauri's individual needs, also imposing ideals and expectations onto her character. Iyer- Ahrestani insists that Gauri's choice to abandon her home and her roles of traditional wife- mother ultimately leave her with "nothing", failing to realise that Lahiri's past depictions of conventional Indian women also do not colour their lives with content and meaning and that Gauri's life, even before she left the home, held little purpose (par 10).
  19. 19. 16 Despite showing Gauri's isolation and the nothingness that seemingly remains for her, Lahiri remains realistic in what is left for these women who choose to defy conventions. As Yasmin Hussain observes, unconventional women's lives are characterised by suffering and alienation from family and community (56). They are undesirable outcasts who challenge the status-quo. Hussain notes that "death is presented as the ultimate freedom from such suffering," something that Gauri contemplates towards the end (56). Returning to India as an older lady, when Bela has rejected her face-to-face as an adult, Gauri stands out on a balcony overlooking the Calcutta streets and imagines jumping to her death. She feels "desperation" and "clarity", as if this is what her life has led to (Lahiri 386). In that moment she sees all that plagues her: "what she'd seen from the terrace in Tollygunge. What she'd done to Bela. The image of a policeman passing beneath a window, holding his son by the hand" (387). She accepts the choices she has made and where they have brought her but Lahiri does not allow Gauri to follow through with suicide – Gauri eventually backs away from the balcony. Gauri again refuses what is expected of her as the unconventional exiled woman, by choosing to continue living. This chapter ends with a letter Bela sends Gauri, telling her that her grandchild asks about her and that maybe one day, for her daughter's sake, they can meet again. Bela's letter offers hope for redemption and understanding for Gauri someday. Lahiri leaves it ambiguous as to what the future holds but creates a sense that there is the possibility for more compassion and understanding towards these solitary immigrant women whose narratives and choices deviate from the norm, these women who are sexual, politicised, non- heterosexual, morally ambiguous, autonomous, outside the confines of the domestic space and roles of wife-mother – these women who choose individual subjectivity over the demands of tradition and communal identity.
  20. 20. 17 4. CONCLUSION While Mrs. Sen, Ashima and Chitra are sympathetic female characters that populate Jhumpa Lahiri's earlier fiction, her representation of them sacrifices their individuality, freezing them into feminine stereotypes that tell us little about their personal subjectivities. These women, despite traversing nations, remain confined to their domestic space of the diasporic home, socially tasked with biological and cultural reproduction and Lahiri largely fails to probe how displacement and border-crossing affects their lives beyond this. The men in these women's lives facilitate their physical mobility and their expectations limit their ideological movement. These women fall into convenient categories of femininity which are dominated by nationalist, hetero-patriarchal ideals that deem women to be the producers and preservers of Indian culture. The Lowland is a strong departure from Lahiri's previous works and representations of Indian immigrant femininity and coincides with contemporary diaspora studies, intersected with feminist and queer theories, which emphasise the need for individual, socially- and culturally-contextualised narratives in order to deconstruct normative notions of diaspora and transnationality. If the first-generation women of Lahiri's earlier fiction are categorised as conventional, Gauri becomes an unconventional women through the decisions she makes and her specific socio-cultural experiences. Lahiri radically re-imagines and represents Indian immigrant femininity by creating a politicised, sexual, queer, morally ambiguous and individualistic female character, who does not align neatly with ideals of the good Indian woman created by the Indian male bourgeoisie and proliferated through nation and diaspora. Lahiri dramatically alters notion of female diaspora and domesticity by demonstrating how Gauri abandons the home. Migrating after marriage, Gauri is expected to merge with expectations of female domesticity but she increasingly distances herself from them until she finally gains the autonomy to be able to leave the domestic space herself. Gauri essentially rejects the expectations of Indian womanhood as a mother and wife, by choosing to be individualistic rather than conforming to conventions. Lahiri destabilises widespread and long-held diasporic ideals of male-mobility and female-domesticity in The Lowland. She portrays how Gauri's specific life experiences and her political trauma shape her life choices and her need to journey beyond that which constrains her physically and ideologically. Lahiri echoes contemporary diaspora studies by rooting Gauri's narrative in specific cultural contexts that avoid generalisations and homogenous depictions of diaspora, but this comes at a social price for Gauri, who is depicted as living an isolated life. Reactions from the characters in and critics of the novel display that the idea of individualised female narratives that so strongly defy expectations remain to be widely unpalatable. These women like Gauri whose narratives are non-normative and who make unconventional choices are specifically categorised as suffering from exile and alienation from family and community. Lahiri's narrative of Gauri increasingly focuses on her individual subjectivity rather than sacrificing her to normative constructions of diaspora and transnationality. In this way, understandings of diaspora are opened up in order to accommodate those specific narratives, of queer politicised women especially, which were generally overlooked in the formation of hetero-patriarchal diasporic conceptualisations. Lahiri leaves the possibility of acceptance
  21. 21. 18 and understanding for Gauri's personal decisions at the end of The Lowland. Gauri chooses individualism over family and community ideals in order to self-fashion herself and understand her own (dis)place(ment) in the world. Diaspora and transnationality for Gauri become not only a crossing of physical and geographical borders but also a transgression of cultural, ideological boundaries, created socio-historically in order to homogenise diasporic experiences. Gauri breaks away from convention and refuses to be limited by the barriers and categories that are made to contain her.
  22. 22. 19 5. LIST OF WORKS CITED Alfonso-Forero, Ann Marie. "Immigrant Motherhood and Transnationality in Jhumpa Lahiri's Fiction." Literature Compass 4.3 (2007): 851-861. Print. Battersby, Eileen. Rev. of The Lowland, by Jhumpa Lahiri. The Irish Times, 31 Aug. 2013. Web. 3 May 2015. <http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/the-lowland-by- jhumpa-lahiri-1.1509407> Bhalla, Tamara. "Being (and Feeling) Gogol: Reading and Recognition in Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake." MELUS 37.1 (2012): 105-129. Project Muse. Web. 31 August 2014. Blunt, Alison. "Domicile and Diapora: An Introduction" in Domicile and Diaspora: Anglo- Indian Women and the Spatial Politics of Home. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2005. 1-22. Print. Brubaker, Rogers. "The 'Diaspora' Diaspora." Ethnic and Racial Studies 28.1 (2005): 1-19. Print. Chatterji, Joya and David Washbrook. "Introduction: concepts and questions." Introduction. Routledge Handbook of the South Asian Diaspora. Ed. Joya Chatterji and David Washbrook. New York: Routledge, 2013. 1-9. Print. Concilio, Carmen. "From West Bengal to New York: The Global Novels of Jhumpa Lahiri and Kiran Desai." Urban Cultures of/in the United States: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Ed. Andrea Carosso. Bern: Peter Lang AG, International Academic Publishers, 2010. 87-120. Print. Das, Ashidhara. Desi Dreams: Indian Immigrant Women Build Lives Across Two Worlds. New Delhi: Primus Books, 2012. Print. Dasgupta, Sayantani and Shamita Das Dasgupta. "Women in Exile: Gender Relations in the Asian Indian Community in the United States." Asian American Studies: A Reader. Ed. Jean Yu-Wen Shen Wu and Min Song. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2000. Print. Dasgupta, Shamita Das. Introduction. A Patchwork Shawl: Chronicles of South Asian Women in America. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2002. Print. Dhingra, Lavina and Floyd Cheung, ed. Introduction. Naming Jhumpa Lahiri: Canons and Controversies. Plymouth: Lexington Books, 2012. xi-xxvi. Print. Dutt-Ballerstadt, Reshmi. The Postcolonial Citizen: The Intellectual Migrant. New York: Peter Lang Publishing Inc., 2010. Print. Felicelli, Anita. "'The Moment' in Jhumpa Lahiri's The Lowland." Rev. of The Lowland, by Jhumpa Lahiri. lareviewofbooks.org, 9 Oct 2013. Web. 17 March 2015. <http://lareviewofbooks.org/review/the-moment-in-jhumpa-lahiris-the-lowland>
  23. 23. 20 Gopinath, Gayatri. Impossible Desires: Queer Diasporas and South Asian Public Cultures. Durham: Duke University Press, 2005. Print. Hall, Stuart. "Cultural Identity and Diaspora." Identity: Community, Culture, Difference. Ed. Jonathan Rutherford. London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1990. 222-237. Print. Hussain, Yasmin. Writing Diaspora: South Asian Women, Culture and Ethnicity. Surrey: Ashgate, 2005. Print. Iyer-Ahrestani, Savita. Rev. of The Lowland, by Jhumpa Lahiri. Paste Magazine, 14 Jan 2014. Web. 5 May 2015. <http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2014/01/the- lowland-by-jhumpa-lahiri.html> Lahiri, Jhumpa. Interpreter of Maladies. London: Flamingo, 1999. Print. ———. The Namesake. London: Fourth Estate, 2003. Print. ———. The Lowland. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014. Print. ———. Unaccustomed Earth. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2009. Print. Lasdun, James. Rev. of The Lowland, by Jhumpa Lahiri. The Guardian, 12 Sept 2013. Web. 5 May 2015. <http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/sep/12/lowland-jhumpa- lahiri-review> Mehta, Sandhya Rao. "Introduction: Revisiting Gendered Spaces in the Diaspora." Exploring Gender in the Literature of the Indian Diaspora. Ed. Sandhya Rao Mehta. Newcastle- upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015. Merritt, Stephanie. Rev of. The Lowland, by Jhumpa Lahiri. The Guardian, 7 Sept. 2013. Web. 17 March 2015. <http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/sep/07/jhumpa- lahiri-the-lowland-review> Powers, Katherine A. Rev. of The Lowland, by Jhumpa Lahiri. Barnes & Noble Review, 24 Sept 2013. Web. 3 May 2015. <http://www.barnesandnoble.com/review/the-lowland> Puar, Jasbir K. "Transnational Sexualities: South Asian (Trans)nation(alism)s and Queer Diasporas." Q&A: Queer in Asian America. Ed. David L. Eng and Alice Y. Hom. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998. 405-424 Print. ———. "Writing My Way 'Home': Travelling South Asian Bodies and Diasporic Journeys." Socialist Review 24.4 (1994): 75-108. Print. Roy, Manisha. "Mothers and Daughters." A Patchwork Shawl: Chronicles of South Asian Women in America. Ed. Shamita Das Dasgupta. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2002. 97-110. Print. Safran, William. "Diasporas in Modern Societies: Myths of Homeland and Return." Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies 1.1 (1991): 83-99. Print.
  24. 24. 21 Saha, Amit Shankar. "The Indian Diaspora and Reading Desai, Mukherjee, Gupta, and Lahiri." CLCWeb: Comparative Literature & Culture 14.2 (2012): 1-8. Web. 29 October 2014. <http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/clcweb/vol14/iss2/11> Sen, Rajyasree. Rev. of The Lowland, by Jhumpa Lahiri. The Indian Quarterly, n.d. Web. 5 May 2015. <http://indianquarterly.com/an-inheritance-of-loss/> Sestanovich, Clare. Rev. of The Lowland, by Jhumpa Lahiri. The Atlantic, 30 Sept 2013. Web. 3 May 2015. <http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/09/the- bleakest-story-jhumpa-lahiri-has-ever-told/280122/> Tölölyan, Khachig. "The Contemporary Discourse of Diaspora Studies." Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 27.3 (2007): 647-655. Project Muse. Web. 31 October 2014. Yun, Ling. "Restorative Nostalgia and Reconstruction of Imaginary Homeland in The Namesake." Studies in Literature and Language 8.2 (2014): 73-76. Print.

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