Reaping the benefits of being sown apart : identities of intersection and diasporic future as a second chance
Date of Issue2011
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Owing to the great number of migrants on the move in the contemporary world, this paper posits that there is a need to avoid treating diaspora solely as a synonym for anxiety-inducing exile or political rebellion against socio-cultural norms. Correspondingly, it is necessary to review the entrenched antagonistic setting between fixed national and fluctuant transcultural influences, for in fact they jointly constitute diasporic subjectivity. The aim of this paper is to see diaspora in a more enabling light: the intrinsic diversity and unresolved character of itinerant individuals is seen to generate possibilities, however trivial they may seem. In negotiating the trajectories to come, agency is bestowed on the diasporics who draw from the confluence of the historic past in the homeland and the immediate present in the hostland, and make active choices between the two cultural inflections, depending on their daily social situations. This means that diasporic identity remains fluid, but the ambivalence need not be considered a source of apprehension. Rather, it connotes dynamism, as the self is reconfigured continuously by the actions of the individual. But rethinking diasporic subjectivity obviously also calls for the adjustment of the categories according to which the self is determined. Originally from young Southeast-Asian nations with effervescent cultures of reform, the authors of the three novels under discussion here view diaspora and the Asian-American literary genre with fresh eyes. They beckon us to listen to the voices that hail from under the umbrella of Asian America as simultaneously fragmentary and many, and bid for the acknowledgment of the new, non-West-bound, directions of transnational migration. Through the analytical perspectives and revisions proposed in this argument, it is possible to regard identities of intersection in terms of a second chance.