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Title: (Un)Belonging, affect and gender in a selection of contemporary British South Asian women’s novels by Sunetra Gupta, Meera Syal, Monica Ali, and Rekha Waheed
Other Titles: Belonging, affect and gender in a selection of contemporary British Asian novels
Authors: Hamed, Yaser
Advisors: Hubble, N
Cox, J
Keywords: Anglo-Asian;Identity studies;Diasporic feminism;Diaspora;Cultural studies
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Brunel University London
Abstract: Questions of human being and identity have been around for centuries. But questions of belonging and identity politics in Britain have only upsurged since the large-scale waves of postwar immigration in the latter part of the twentieth century, especially from the Indian Subcontinent. Across the Atlantic, this era has also seen the birth of affect theory in 1962 with the publication of the Affect Imagery Consciousness by the American psychologist Silvan Solomon Tomkins. From an affective perspective, this thesis discusses feminist questions about women’s (un)belongings in selected novels by the British South Asian women writers Suntra Gutpa, Meera Syal, Monica Ali, and Rekha Waheed. It seeks to establish whether the affective experiences of disgust, distress, pride, shame, interest, fear and anger can provide new insights into the British Asian women’s belonging and sexist social and cultural identity politics. Therefore, this thesis highlights the gendered interplay between intra-personal (psychological) and extra-personal (sociocultural) dynamics of (un)belonging as an act as well as an affect. This thesis asks whether the women characters in the selected novels in question belong or wish to (un)belong. At this postmodern age of globalisation and increased communication, crossborder movements and intercultural transactions, identity and belonging have become plural and even more variable and controversial. A simplistic yes/no answer to plural belonging is no longer the question. Instead, this thesis explores the affective social and political dynamics that influence men’s and women’s (un)belongings in various settings. If (un)belonging involves subjective and, at times, silent affects and feelings, I wonder what if one gives a voice to these unvoiced states and whether these affective states can react and imply action. What sort of original commentary would they produce concerning the status quo of diasporic (refugees, diasporans and immigrant) women’s belongings and identities? Furthermore, if identity is fluid, dynamic and postmodern, can a critical analysis of these affective responses indicate a specific trend or trajectory in women’s attitudes and aspirations concerning their being (self-identity) and (un)belonging within specific British South Asian contexts? This thesis aims to answer these controversial questions affective interdisciplinary approach that draws on affect theory as first conceptualised by Spinoza and Charles Darwin and as pioneered by Tomkins and later studied by Donald L. Nathanson, Brian Massumi, Sara Ahmed and Nira Yuval-Davis. It dismantles the intersections between the ‘affected’, on the one hand, and the various ‘affecting’ social, cultural, racial or patriarchal forces outside subjectivity, on the other, to use Spinoza’s words. This thesis argues that uncharted trajectories transpire about the South Asian women’s aspirations to (re)define their being and belonging. This thesis is not a definitive and exhaustive account of the cornucopia of British South Asian women’s writing. I hope that it will provide a missing link between gender, affect and belongings and thereby initiate a stepping-stone for further topic-related interdisciplinary studies in the future.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the degree of Master of Philosophy and awarded by Brunel University
Appears in Collections:English and Creative Writing
Dept of Arts and Humanities Theses

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