The New Barbarians Are Coming? A Postcolonial Reading of the Hybrid Identity Construction of London Immigrants in Sam Selvon’s The Lonely Londoners (1956) and Rose Tremain’s The Road Home (2007)
This thesis performs a comparative investigation of the identity reconfiguration of the immigrants to London coming from the former British colonies in the 1950s, and those coming from the Eastern European states after the European Union integration respectively. It uses Sam Selvon’s The Lonely Londoners (1956) and Rose Tremain’s The Road Home (2007), novels that are contextually connected to these two distinct social-historical periods. The analysis focuses on the immigrants’ identity reconfiguration process that the contact with the diasporic milieu triggers. This study depicts characters who challenge the fixed categories of identification promoted by the colonial discourse, by demonstrating the possibility of developing a hybrid identity which bears the marks of both the ancestral and metropolitan cultures. In order to perform a thorough scrutiny of the identity reconfiguration situations that the narratives depict, the investigation takes conceptual support in the Postcolonial critical theory. Hybridity, which represents the pivotal concept, is defined in accordance with the theory developed by Homi K. Bhbaha in The Location of Culture. Since Post-Communist literature proves to be an undertheorised field, the study proposes the use of Postcolonialism as a transferable theoretical platform serving the comparative investigation of these two areas. The identity hybridisation in the diasporic space is illustrated in both novels through a series of figurative representations of mobility, space, and language. The thesis analyses mobility trope, considering both the voyages that immigrants take to, and inside metropolitan London. Since a journey implies a point of departure and a destination, the space in-between is perceived as the third space that develops between the cultural representations of the homeland and of the metropolis. This is a space that favours identity hybridisation. Mobility implies, however, its dialectic opposite, settlement. The immigrants depicted by Selvon and Treamain are constantly looking for a place to settle, a location that reproduces the mental home of the homeland. They therefore engage in a process of inscribing the metropolitan space with traces of the ancestral culture they bring along while simultaneously mimicking the local culture, which results into a new, hybrid identity. Language is in this context a major form of hybrid aesthetical representation. The study examines the linguistic strategies that immigrants employ in developing a hybrid identity through the use of creolised discourse, thus challenging the monopoly of the standard language. By bringing forth an inconspicuous contemporary text to be compared with a canonical postcolonial novel this thesis intends to offer some insights into the similarities of the diasporic experience that immigrants from two distinct, yet comparable social-historical contexts undergo.
PublisherUiT Norges arktiske universitet
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
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