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A decolonial reading of the Punjabi (m)other in British Asian literature
journal contributionposted on 15.01.2020 by Kavita Bhanot
Any type of content formally published in an academic journal, usually following a peer-review process.
This reading focuses on the mother figure in recent novels and memoirs by Punjabi-origin male writers. These texts can be seen as forms of translation into modernity, of subjects that are rarely represented in English-language literature, that cannot be recognised by the text, that exist at its margins. These texts are founded in the idea of the nation; which is unable to contain or represent these mother figures. Where is the nation for the non-English speaking Sikh and Muslim mothers in the texts if it is neither India nor Britain (where acceptance is conditional on being ‘modern’, speaking English, secular)? The ‘difference’ of these mother figures means that they don’t fit into the idea of Britain; their identities are tied up with the immediate communities in which they live and the regions from whence they hail. There is little connection to the British citizen-making project and ‘multiculturalism’. Decolonial readings of these texts through regional (Punjabi) lens can help to read the mother figures better, reading her ‘difference’. Meanwhile, resilience can be seen as a form of resistance to British hegemony – connected to rural Punjabi female resistance (resilience) to British and Indian elite hegemony under British colonialism.