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The diaspora – in dialogic relation to past and present

December 1, 2012

I’ve no desire to pigeon-hole her as some sort of ethnic writer (disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer!!!), but in calling Alison Wong ‘the Patricia Grace of the Chinese New Zealand experience’, Karen Tay made the discussion necessary… is Alison Wong’s work speaking to a diasporic consciousness in New Zealand??? This is what Tay seems to be saying…

Anyway, a wee note I just came across in an old journal prompted me to state this thought :

The diaspora is… by its nature reflexive and politicized, always in a dialogic relation with the dominant and with the past, drawing on both for its critical resources in the present. Its conception of place is stereoscopic; of time, non-synchronous; and of identity, anti-essentialist. Thus the diaspora implies, says Gilroy, an ‘infinite process of identity construction (1993: 223). More than this, however, the concept of the diaspora is important for the way it reconfigures not only ‘identity’ but also ‘community’ and thus relations of ‘sameness and difference’ and of the ‘self and other’ over space and time.” (p.21, Peter Brooker Modernity and Metropolis (I was reading the e-version and obviously never went back for publication details, sorry)

Note that Dirlik’s discussion about ethnic writers is relevant here, too… see: Arif Dirlik (2002) ‘Literature/Identity: Transnationalism, Narrative and Representation’. The Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies 24: 209-234

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