Held to Ransom? The South Asian Diaspora and Postcolonial Discourse


  • Jasbir Jain




The present paper explores the critical approaches to postcoloniality and subalternity in the theoretical writings of the South Asian diaspora as it seeks to define the nature of postcolonial theory – is it a methodology, an approach, or a theory? Its close association with diasporic studies with its emphasis on exile, homeland and identity and its constant addressivity to the West identifies it with diasporic approaches. If so, where does its use lie for home cultures? Working with Arun Prabha Mukherjee’s two books, Bhabha’s essays on the “Postcolonial and the Postmodern†and “Unsatisfied: Notes on Vernacular Cosmopolitanism,†Gayatri Spivak’s translations of Mahasweta Devi’s stories alongside her Prefaces, Introductions and translator’s notes and her long essay “A Literary Representation of the Subaltern,†the discussion foregrounds the gap between political freedom and cultural independence.

Even though there has been a visible shift in translation theories and in the use and intermittent inclusion of native languages, it has still not succeeded in reclaiming cultural territories of intellectual thought. The world of the diasporic critic, no matter where located, is still locked up in a one-sided approach (refer to Vijay Mishra and Satendra Nandan). There is an urgent need to return to a closer examination of the critical views of native writers in order to relocate our objectives and define our spheres and to complete the incomplete process of liberation and reclaim lost territories. This argument requires a better understanding of colonial histories and pushes us towards an in-depth exploration of power relations. The discursiveness which appears to inhabit this discourse must be sharpened towards making a coherent pattern.


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Author Biography

Jasbir Jain

Jasbir Jain is Emeritus Fellow at the University of Rajasthan, India, where she has also been a Sahitya Akademi Writer-in-Residence and a K.K. Birla Fellow. Recipient of several awards for distinguished scholarship, she is an elected member of Clare Hall, Cambridge (UK). Jain has written extensively on cultural and literary issues with a special focus on narratology, and Indian literatures. Amongst her recent publications are Indigenous Roots of Feminism: Culture, Subjectivity and Agency (2011), Theorizing Resistance (2012), The Diaspora Writes Home (2015) and Forgiveness: Between Memory and History (2016). Email: jain.jasbir@gmail.com.  




How to Cite

Jain, J. (2017). Held to Ransom? The South Asian Diaspora and Postcolonial Discourse. Asiatic: IIUM Journal of English Language and Literature, 11(1). https://doi.org/10.31436/asiatic.v11i1.960



Section II: Articles and Interviews on South Asian Diaspora Literature