Exploring Identities in Motion in Diasporic and Global Literature

Matthew Russo
Loyola University Chicago

Full manuscript: www.kon.org/urc/v13/russo.html

Abstract: The increasing ease with which individuals can move across the globe provides more opportunities for people to explore the world, but it also results in the displacement of some individuals from their native countries or “homelands.” This displacement, referred to as diaspora, is certainly not a new concept; however, the problem becomes exacerbated in an age of globalization. Two specific novels, Aleksander Hemon’s The Lazarus Project and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, provide narratives focused on characters in the midst of what sociologist Robin Cohen refers to as a “victim diaspora,” but my reading of the novels suggests a slightly different view of diaspora than that suggested by Cohen (28). Particularly, I argue that the main character of each story is not necessarily searching for a lost “homeland” but rather reshaping or altering identity in response to the respective diaspora.

Introduction Whether conceived in terms of individuals or groups, identity has many precedents ranging from cultural backgrounds to the types of TV shows one grows up watching. This already-general part of the human experience is increasingly complicated by the process of globalization. In his article, “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy,” sociologist Arjun Appadurai presented a framework for analyzing globalization by breaking it down into various global flows or “-scapes,” including “ethnoscapes” (588-589). Appadurai noted that in an increasingly global world, individuals are continually moving and dispersing at greater distances across the globe. He mentioned two specific groups affected in this process, immigrants and refugees, which are particularly pertinent in discussions of identity in an age of globalization (Appadurai, 589). Specifically, many of these individuals will struggle with their identity due to the highly precarious nature of diaspora, which is defined by Susan Stanford Friedman as “migration plus loss, desire, and widely scattered communities held together by memory and a sense of history over a long period of time” (268).

Read the full manuscript: www.kon.org/urc/v13/russo.html