Signifying Nothing

Topics: United States, Immigration to the United States, Race Pages: 171 (57779 words) Published: April 18, 2013
University of Miami

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Electronic Theses and Dissertations

2011-05-09

Translating Postcolonial Pasts: Immigration and
Identity in the Fiction of Bharati Mukherjee,
Elizabeth Nunez, and Jhumpa Lahiri
Ann Marie Alfonso-Forero
University of Miami, amaforero@gmail.com

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Alfonso-Forero, Ann Marie, "Translating Postcolonial Pasts: Immigration and Identity in the Fiction of Bharati Mukherjee, Elizabeth Nunez, and Jhumpa Lahiri" (2011). Open Access Dissertations. Paper 577.

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UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI

TRANSLATING POSTCOLONIAL PASTS:
IMMIGRATION AND IDENTITY IN THE FICTION OF
BHARATI MUKHERJEE, ELIZABETH NUNEZ, AND JHUMPA LAHIRI

By
Ann Marie Alfonso-Forero
A DISSERTATION
Submitted to the Faculty
of the University of Miami
in partial fulfillment of the requirements for
the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Coral Gables, Florida
May 2011

©2011
Ann Marie Alfonso-Forero
All Rights Reserved

UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI

A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of
the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy

TRANSLATING POSTCOLONIAL PASTS:
IMMIGRATION AND IDENTITY IN THE FICTION OF
BHARATI MUKHERJEE, ELIZABETH NUNEZ, AND JHUMPA LAHIRI

Ann Marie Alfonso-Forero

Approved:
________________
Lindsey Tucker, Ph.D.
Professor of English

_________________
Terri A. Scandura, Ph.D.
Dean of the Graduate School

________________
Tim Watson, Ph.D.
Professor of English

_________________
Ranen Omer-Sherman, Ph.D.
Professor of English

________________
Bishnupriya Ghosh, Ph.D.
Professor of English
University of California, Santa Barbara

ALFONSO-FORERO, ANN MARIE
Translating Postcolonial Pasts:
Immigration and Identity in the Fiction of
Bharati Mukherjee, Elizabeth Nunez, and Jhumpa Lahiri.

(Ph.D., English)
(May 2011)

Abstract of a dissertation at the University of Miami.
Dissertation supervised by Professors Lindsey Tucker and Timothy Watson. No. of pages in text. (171)
This dissertation examines how postcoloniality affects identity formation in contemporary women’s immigrant literature. In order to do so, it must interrogate the critical fields that are most interested in issues of national and cultural identities, migration, and the appropriation of women by both Western and postcolonial projects. By examining the fiction of Bharati Mukherjee, Elizabeth Nunez, and Jhumpa Lahiri through the triple lens of ethnic American studies, postcolonial theory, and transnational feminism, I will argue that theorizing postcolonial women’s writing in the United States involves sustained analysis of how particular socio-political experiences are translated into the context of American identity.

I am particularly interested in the manner in which female subjects in these texts navigate between the various and often contradictory demands placed on them by their respective homeland cultures and their new immigrant positions in the United States. Although each of these writers depict immigrant women protagonists who adapt to these demands in their own particular ways, a study of these characters’ gendered and cultural identities reveals a powerful relationship between the manner in which women are figured into the preservation of the postcolonial nation-state and the ways in which these women utilize immigration as an occasion to appropriate and subvert this role in the establishment of a new, negotiated identity.

This project draws on three important and current fields of interest to both cultural and literary...

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