A Tornado Hitting the Homeland : Disturbing American Foundational Myths in Bharati Mukherjee’s Jasmine
Seeliger, Henriette-Juliane (2020): „A Tornado Hitting the Homeland : Disturbing American Foundational Myths in Bharati Mukherjee’s Jasmine“. doi: 10.3390/h9030112.
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Year of publication:
3, Special Issue Disturbances of the Home/land in Anglophone Postcolonial Literatures
Historically, the United States has always been a country of immigration. Yet, in light of recent political events, a form of nativism and sedentarism is re-emerging that seeks to preserve what is generally perceived as essentially American: an ethnically white and male identity that has its origins in the foundational myths of the pastoral, the frontier, and the West. The American Midwest is where the allegedly “real” America lies: it is what Anthony D. Smith has termed an 2ethnoscape”: a landscape imbued with historical and cultural meaning that has come to represent true “Americanness”. In her 1989 novel Jasmine, Bharati Mukherjee uses the figure of Jasmine, an undocumented female immigrant from India, to disrupt this traditional trope of “the West” as the perceived location of American cultural identity. She liberates the land from its national, historical, and ethnic inscriptions by subverting the very foundational myths of the pastoral, the frontier, manifest destiny, virgin land, and the melting-pot, that are so crucial to the justification of this exclusive as well as exclusionary identity… This article analyzes the processes and mechanisms through which Mukherjee liberates the landscape: Firstly, she satirizes the ideal of the American pastoral and exposes the assumption of a stable, uniquely American landscape as purely imaginative. She then subverts the notion of the global city as the ideal location of immigrants, where “the other” can be safely contained outside the homeland and instead makes the Midwest ethnoscape the space where her protagonist uproots American national identity. Through her presence in the American heartland, Jasmine disturbs and challenges naturalized notions of America and constructs a new homeland that is open for all immigrants following her. Mukherjee thus shifts the perspective away from seeing the American homeland as a pre-existing place in need of defense, and proposes a fluid understanding of home that has acquired new relevance in light of recent political events.
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Mittlerer Westen <Motiv>
Kulturelle Identität <Motiv>
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Open Access Journal:
September 16, 2020