The local and the mobile : spaces of belonging and displacement in American narratives / by Dalia Kandiyoti.
This dissertation argues for a “sense of place” as a crucial category of belonging and writing in the literatures of migration and displacement, to which the geographical imagination is central. In the writing of migration, I argue, the traditional formulation as place as settlement and rootedness is subverted, and instead a dynamic, mobile sense of place is asserted. The links between location, ethnicity, gender and literary genre are highlighted in this project to show how nationality and ethnic identity are formed in struggles over places even in the context of migration. In examining certain writers who at certain moments have reconfigured prevailing definitions of space, I show how the (im)possibilities of ethnic and national belonging and identity can be articulated at least partly through a writing of space. Many of the works I consider are concerned with immigrants, travelers, and refugees. They offer “hidden histories” of place, occluded otherwise by dominant spatial and other ideologies. They also create and show the ways in which ethnicity and nationality are spatial practices. My examples are drawn from North American and Argentine cultures, including Chicana/o literatures, and Jewish American and Jewish Argentine “foundational fictions.” In the first chapter, I draw on the theoretical insights of literary critics, historians, and geographers such as Edward Said, Stuart Hall, James Clifford, and Doreen Massey to argue for the geographical articulations of ethnic-identity-in-displacement. I then analyze works by Abraham Cahan and Alberto Gerchunoff to show how they reinvent dominant discourses of territory and local color to represent immigrant Jewish identity in the Americas. In Willa Cather's “prairie” novels about European immigrants, I read a reformulation of political and cultural pluralism based on space. Next is an analysis of the gendered dimensions of Aztlán and the discourse of homelands and narratives of “return” in Chicana culture. The last two chapters are devoted to spatial memory and the articulation of place in post-Holocaust thought and imagination and to American exilic representation of space in Alicia Dujovne Ortiz's work.
Record last modified: 2018-05-22 11:47:00
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