Identity and Belonging

Topics: Culture, Imperialism, American Empire Pages: 23 (7521 words) Published: April 18, 2013

A Postcolonial study of Identity Crisis in Mohsin Hamid’s the Reluctant Fundamentalist Daryoosh Hayati Islamic Azad University, Iran

Abstract: This essay will present a postcolonial study of Mohsin Hamid’s the Reluctant Fundamentalist. The basis for this research paper is the postcolonial theories of Edward Said, Fanon and Homi Bhabba. The aim is to question simply and sardonically the human cost of empire building, moreover it is discussed how the people in a totally alien culture are faced with different cultural predicaments, dilemmas as well as contradictions threatening their identity. Identity is supposed to be stable, while as this novel indicates, it is at risk due to the cultural conflicts as a result of which identity and ethnicity are subjected to change for the benefit of the hegemony. In line with Edward Said’s: “ the East writes back” it is shown how this novel is a reaction to the discourse of colonization and welcomes de-colonization. Moreover it reflects the laments of the author for the terrorist label attributed to Muslims, in terms of globalization, supported by the hegemony and interpreted as essentialism.

Key words: globalization, identity, postcolonial, binary oppositions, otherness, hegemony, hybridity and ethnicity.

BARNOLIPI - An Interdisciplinary Journal - Volume - II. Issue – II. ISSN 2249 –2666 © REFLECTION Mentoring Services


Introduction: Post colonialism deals with the aftermath of colonialism. It is about the painstaking struggle of being independent. The society is no longer being oppressed; they are independent, free to be themselves again. However they’ve changed, their culture has changed now they need to figure out who they really are. In other words they are faced with identity related choices. Ex-colonies are to choose either to make an attempt to restore the original culture, or conform to the existing colonizers’ culture or the creation of a new culture which combines both. In other words such nations are

encountered by difficult decisions to make. Either to assimilate or dissimilate is the existential condition ex-colonies are exposed to. Such a question faces the ex-colonies with an unresolved predicament. The assimilation and adaptation of cultural practices, the cross-fertilization of cultures, can be seen as positive, enriching, and dynamic, as well as oppressive. "Hybridity" is also a useful concept for helping to break down the false sense that colonized cultures -- or colonizing cultures for that matter -- are monolithic, or have essential, unchanging features. The growth of “hybridity”—the dissolution of rigid cultural boundaries between groups hitherto perceived as separate, the intermixture of various identities, in effect the dissolution of identities themselves. Much anthropology in this field demonstrates how identities have been and are invented, reinvented and shaped for political and other purposes, out of disparate historical and cultural experiences. Other studies have repeatedly shown that identities are driven with contradictions and are not to be understood as seamlessly unified comprehensive cultural entities, therefore impossible to go back to the original one.

BARNOLIPI - An Interdisciplinary Journal - Volume - II. Issue – II. ISSN 2249 –2666 © REFLECTION Mentoring Services


Identities owe their formation and position in society to the operation of social, economic, cultural, and political forces that are inseparable from the forces that create and maintain socioeconomic groups. In this view, rather than being opposed, identity politics and class politics, while distinct, have the potential to be allied actors in a common political process. The three most influential theorists whose ideas regarding the causes of the oriental identity being changed include: Fanon, Bhabha and Edward Said according to whom: ‘The Orient was almost a European invention,...
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