Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Bharati Mukherjee’s Struggle Against Cultural Balkanization: the Forging of a New American Immigrant Writing

Mª Luz González, Juan Ignacio Oliva


This paper aims at analysing Bharati Mukherjee’s individual positioning as a woman writer by using the female characters caught between two different worlds, homes and cultures present in her works. After having undergone several phases in her life: as an exile from India, an Indian expatriate in Canada, a common immigrant and finally a citizen in the United States, all these diverse selves have been translated into her literary career. The writer thus envisions herself as a pioneer of new lands and literatures, initiating a process of re-forming and de-forming American culture, and redefining diaspora as a process of unhyphenated rehousement in which the cultural landscape in which one lives is no longer divided into a centre and its peripheries. Mukherjee celebrates “racial and cultural mongrelisation” but rejects cultural balkanization in its defence of the local over the national. She is neither ignorant nor insensitive to racism and oppression in the United States, yet her characters are always tenacious and feisty in their struggle to belong. Mukherjee stresses their quality as battlers, moved by the instinct to improve their lives. In her construction of America as the land of opportunity and success Mukherjee rejects homesickness and in so doing she clearly marks a difference from the Indian diaspora, though we consider that in defending this posture she goes to extremes, idealizing the “real” to create a personal and literary migrant cosmos.

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