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Title: Behind the backs of borders : diaspora microspace in Imtiaz Dharker’s poetry
Authors: Betik, Bailey
Keywords: Pakistani diaspora
Poetry -- Explication
Poetry -- 21st century -- History and criticism
Group identity in literature
Issue Date: 2018-02
Publisher: University of Malta. Department of English
Citation: Betik, B. (2018). Behind the backs of borders : diaspora microspace in Imtiaz Dharker’s poetry. Antae Journal, 5(1), 6-16.
Abstract: A self-described ‘“Scottish Muslim Calvinist’”, poet Imtiaz Dharker uses her collections to vividly depict everyday life ‘between borders’. Dharker’s cultural identity, one indubitably rooted in hybridity, displays itself in the shattering of binaries between Other and indigene throughout her body of work. However, factoring in the changing sociopolitical climate and attitudes toward Muslim women in the Western world, heightened in the aftermath of 9/11, and comparing her collections I Speak For the Devil and The Terrorist at My Table, one can see Dharker’s imagery of hybridity drastically shift. To better unpack the notion of existing in a perpetual life between borders, I propose a notion of “diaspora microspace” that combines Avtar Brah’s definition of a ‘diaspora space’ with Homi Bhabha’s ‘inter’ of the Third Space. Diaspora microspaces then act as frames of examination for the manifestations of diaspora narrative in everyday spaces of identity—where collapsed borders echo through quotidian spaces like dinner tables, doorways, and the home. Pre-9/11, these diaspora microspaces in the former collection begin as thresholds of optimistic negotiation, understanding, and translation, but in the latter, post-9/11, more often end in mistranslation, power struggle, and misrepresentation. Drawing upon Brah and Bhabha’s aforementioned theories alongside Gaston Bachelard’s Poetics of Space, I will chart how Dharker blurs Other-indigene and public-private binaries with this imagery, as well as how her agency over her disaporic cultural identity waxes and wanes.
Appears in Collections:Antae Journal, Volume 5, Issue 1
Antae Journal, Volume 5, Issue 1

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