Thesis Defence: Intergenerational Conflict and Diasporic Identity: A Study of Memory and Affect in Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake and The Lowland
March 11 at 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Dravida Anjuman Huda, supervised by Dr. Jennifer Gustar, will defend their thesis titled “Intergenerational Conflict and Diasporic Identity: A Study of Memory and Affect in Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake and The Lowland” in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in English.
An abstract for Dravida Anjuman Huda’s thesis is included below.
Defences are open to all members of the campus community as well as the general public. Registration is not required for in person defences.
The study of memory and affect has gained importance in the critical examination of intergenerationality since the advent of memory theory relating to the Holocaust. While in recent times, scholarly attention tends to view memory and affect in their fluid as well as multidirectional capacities, the two interconnected concepts also offer substantial insight in contexts where the acts and repercussions of memory and affect’s transmission from one generation to the next are conditioned by specific circumstances such as that of diaspora. Diaspora studies offer a broad spectrum of situations related to migratory movement, such as generational conflict, cultural assimilation, hybrid identity, multiculturalism, and transnationalism. These concepts are consistently raised in the extant criticism of prominent Indo-American author, Jhumpa Lahiri’s nuanced rendition of the Bengali diaspora in the US. However, research on Lahiri’s fiction focuses on postcolonialism while generally overlooking the issues of memory and affect, and their capacity to provide new and important perspectives on intergenerational conflict and diasporic identity. My MA thesis addresses this significant gap in Lahiri studies and investigates two of the author’s novels, The Namesake and The Lowland. My study proposes that the migratory quality of memory and the affect associated with it instigate intergenerational conflicts in a diasporic situation, and eventually impact specifically the formation of second generation diasporic identity. I specifically consider purposefully withheld memories of migration by first generation of diaspora, the resultant “absent-presence” of affect in the second generation of diaspora, and finally the repercussions of such affect as it materializes in different modes of struggle for the latter group of diasporic people with their identity. Ultimately, my work contributes to an understanding of Lahiri’s representations of the fluidity of diasporic identity, as it is strongly connected to the movement of memory and affect between diasporic generations.