11. Secrets and Revelations in the Diasporic Family
Professor Daniela Berghahn (Royal Holloway, University of London)
This paper was presented at a panel on 'Citizens of Plural Worlds: Family and Nation in the Age of Globalisation' at the SCMS Conference in New Orleans on 12 March 2011.
This paper is based on the premise that in cultural representations the family is constructed as the most important site of social and cultural reproduction as well as a trope of national belonging. Memories play an important role in the construction of familial and national identity. Families and nations are held together by their shared remembering as well as their complicit forgetting (Kuhn 2002). Drawing on Abraham and Torok’s (1994) concept of transgenerational memory, this paper examines how family secrets in Mississippi Masala (Mira Nair, 1991) and in Nina’s Heavenly Delights (Pratibha Parmar, 2004), whether shrouded in silence or disclosed, put a threat to the stability of the family and force it to re-assess its boundaries. In the equation of family and nation, the diasporic family’s capacity to accept the Other, configured either as an illegitimate, racially mixed or as a queer daughter, would correspond with the nation’s capacity to integrate the Other.
If you cannot hear the podcast here then - Download the podcast
Filed Under: Citizens of Plural Worlds, SCMS Conference Panel