I’m sure you’re not…

I'm sure you're not surprised that I love it when academics (or others) write about my work. I don't ever see a lot of that writing, as would have been the case for this unpublished grad school paper, "Diasporic Poetics" which offered several pages (!) of analysis of _Bodies in Motion_. Luckily for me, the author, Swathi Sreerangarajan, was kind enough to send me a copy because she thought I might be interested. Might be! :-)

I could quibble with one or two of her interpretations -- but that's an author's prerogative. Mostly, I just love that someone cared enough to take the time to read my work so carefully, and think about what it might mean. There is no greater gift to a writer than an attentive reader!

I won't make you read several pages of analysis, but I thought you might enjoy a taste; she examines the first two stories in the book.


"I'm interested in what I argue is the subtext of this story: Thani's ambivalent 'world-citizenship' in a world charted by the British Empire with London as its metropolitan center. Repeatedly, Thani refers to himself as a 'lucky man,' one who lives in relative comfort and in a position of respect. At the same time, he is also sensitive to the persistent racial othering that serves to keep him in his 'place' on the periphery of colonial-elite circles. In what follows, I will detail the ambivalence portrayed through this character and how, in this instance, it reveals a proto-diasporic imaginary.....

His thoughts are centered on the main issue at hand � i.e. whether or not to send his daughter abroad � while the omniscient narration elaborates the subtext, which is his ambivalent relationship with metropolitan England...

On the one hand, this passage exposes the complicity of the upper-caste, upper-class Tamils with the colonial administration. On the other, it meditates on the racial essentialisms structurally necessary for colonial structures. From this passage, a reader would glean that the British administration, in suppressing the 1915 "troubles," did not ultimately distinguish the comprador class of subservient aristocrats from the agents of the insurrection in question. What emerges from this passage is not historical detail, but the sense that there was no real possibility of 'assimilating' into the ruling class for the native elite. What they occupied, instead, was an ambivalent position, a place that gave them privileges but not "true acceptance and admittance" into the British rule....

What we see taking shape in his thoughts is the diasporic self-narrative of a third-generation migrant still unable to experience complete belonging in either (i.e. native or British colonial) frame of reference. As a structure of feeling that idealizes an earlier moment and place in history, this is a proto-diasporic formation that Thani�s migrant progeny will also experience in different ways, locations, and contexts.

I have focused on the first story because this essay is concerned with diasporic narratives and images of the �global.� I will now briefly discuss the second story, �Seven Cups,� because it is notable for the kind of queer intervention it makes within narrativizations of the Sri Lankan Tamil �homeland.�"



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