Transnational spaces, transitional places : Muslimness in contemporary literary imaginations
This dissertation focuses on contemporary literature in English produced by writers of Muslim origin. My study analyzes Laila Lalami's The Moor's Account (2014), Leila Abuela's The Kindness of Enemies (2015), Diana Abu-Jaber's Crescent (2003), Elif Shafak's The Saint of Incipient Sanities (2004) and Randa Jarrar's A Map of Home (2007), and Leila Aboulela's Minaret (2005), Shelina Janmohamed's Love in a Headscarf (2009), and Tanwi Nandini Islam's Bright Lines (2015) to explore and illuminate the ways in which Muslim diasporic subjectivity is being reconfigured in contemporary literary imaginations. Guided by developments in Muslim literary studies, postcolonial and diaspora theories, this dissertation examines, from an interdisciplinary perspective, the particular conjunctures of literature, Muslimness, displacement, and belonging within the new analytic framework of Muslim diaspora space. This project seeks to move beyond the set of discourses -- radicalization vs. secularization; Islamism vs. liberalism-- that have defined Muslimness to highlight alternative positionalities in between. My analyses of the chosen texts through the lens of Muslim diaspora space, I argue, shift the focus from the preconceived notions about the authors' positionality as Muslim to the ways in which they create complex characters that represent the variety of Muslim discourses and practices. Rather than focusing on such over-asked questions as "Is the text Islamic or secular?" and "Western or Muslim?," Muslim diaspora space as a mode of analysis highlights how the writers negotiate the concepts of Islamic vs. secular and Muslim vs. citizen by redefining "Muslimness" as well as "western-ness."
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License.