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See detailWho's Afraid of Albert Camus? The Memorialization of French Algeria and the Controversy over Camus' Legacy
Munos, Delphine ULg

Conference (2013, March 23)

Until recently, in France, Albert Camus was regularly dismissed as a consensual writer and a minor philosopher -- for the dubious reason that his work figured too heavily in syllabuses for secondary ... [more ▼]

Until recently, in France, Albert Camus was regularly dismissed as a consensual writer and a minor philosopher -- for the dubious reason that his work figured too heavily in syllabuses for secondary schools. A year before the 50th anniversary of Camus’ death, issues about the memory of Camus in France started gaining new momentum in the face of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s attempt to have the author’s remains transferred to the Pantheon. Although Sarkozy’s ploy was successfully opposed by Camus’ son, who claimed (unlike Camus’ daughter) that moving his father’s remains would be contrary to the deceased’s wishes, the struggle over the writer’s legacy dramatically resurfaced a few years later. In Fall 2012, the project of a major Camus exhibition in Aix-en-Provence for Marseille-Provence European Capital of Culture 2013 was stalled, following on, first, the brutal eviction of its curator, French Algeria historian Benjamin Stora, and second, the consequent underhanded appointment of middlebrow philosopher Michel Onfray, before the latter’s final decision to back off from what he called “la pétaudière” (the madhouse). Given that the forced replacement of Stora by Onfray was pronounced by arch-conservative Aix-en-Provence mayor Maryse Joissains-Masini, the French and Algerian presses have been unanimous in interpreting Stora’s eviction as a result of his resolve to lay stress on one of the most silenced aspects of Camus’ work -- namely, his problematic status as a ‘French’ writer born on North African soil, and his impossible French/Algerian identity as a Pied-Noir who opposed both the OAS and the FLN. “What they did not like in him was the Algerian,” reads the Annex to Camus’ unfinished novel, The First Man. This paper sets out to examine how, beyond its escapist character, Camus’ ‘Mediterranean utopia’ still has a potential for raising unsettling questions about post-colonial Algeria and post-imperial France alike, in a contemporary context where a French apology for more than a century of colonization in Algeria remains overdue. [less ▲]

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See detailAfter Melancholia: A Reappraisal of Second-Generation Diasporic Subjectivity in the Work of Jhumpa Lahiri
Munos, Delphine ULg

Book published by Rodopi (2013)

Mindful of the tunnel vision sometimes created by the privileging of ‘hybridity talk’ and matters of culture in discussions of texts by minority writers, Delphine Munos in After Melancholia reads the work ... [more ▼]

Mindful of the tunnel vision sometimes created by the privileging of ‘hybridity talk’ and matters of culture in discussions of texts by minority writers, Delphine Munos in After Melancholia reads the work of the Bengali-American celebrity author Jhumpa Lahiri against the grain, by shifting the ground of analysis from the cultural to the literary. Via interdisciplinary incursions into the domains of literary and psychoanalytic criticism, as well as into those of trauma and diaspora studies, Munos takes up “Hema and Kaushik,” the triptych of short stories included in Unaccustomed Earth (2008), as exemplary texts in which Lahiri redefines notions of belonging and arrival regarding the Bengali-American second generation, not in terms of cultural assimilation – which would hardly make sense for characters born in the USA in the first place – but in terms of a resymbolization of the gaps in the parents’ migrant narratives. Calling for a re-assessment of Lahiri’s work in terms of a dialectical relationship between (transgenerational) mourning and melancholia, Munos provides a compelling reading grid by means of which underrepresented aspects of the rest of Lahiri’s work, especially her novel The Namesake (2003), gain new visibility. [less ▲]

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See detailAfter Melancholia: A Reappraisal of Second-Generation Diasporic Subjectivity in the Work of Jhumpa Lahiri
Munos, Delphine ULg

Doctoral thesis (2012)

While Jhumpa Lahiri’s work might be thought of as one of the most emblematic instances of the popularity of today’s Indian-American diasporic literature, it remains that its hyper-visibility coincides ... [more ▼]

While Jhumpa Lahiri’s work might be thought of as one of the most emblematic instances of the popularity of today’s Indian-American diasporic literature, it remains that its hyper-visibility coincides with an odd form of critical invisibility. This is not to say that critical interventions on Lahiri’s three books have been nonexistent, nor could they have been in view of the fact that the author won the Pulitzer Prize in 2000 for her first collection of short-stories, Interpreter of Maladies. But the vast majority of these readings takes as its premise that view that cultural assimilation and hybridity are still valid notions to investigate narratives focusing on members of the second generation, even as these descendants of migrants consider themselves Indian simply by virtue of their parents, so that they can only claim a second-hand knowledge of migration. Ignoring the difference between first and second-generation Indian-American diasporic experiences – and, what is more, overlooking the fact that the offspring of migrants, unlike their parents, “[do] not really have any other place [than the U.S.] to call home” (Lahiri) – such critical consensus ignores important aspects of Gogol’s complex trajectory in The Namesake. Worse, it proves highly unsatisfactory when it comes to discussing Lahiri’s recent collection of short stories, Unaccustomed Earth, in which the second generation’s accession to early middle age calls into question various preconceptions on heritage and transmission. Can it be then that what is passed on from one generation to the next organizes itself less around positive, than negative entities, that is, around categories such as the gap, the absent, and the unsaid? Taking its cue from Vijay Mishra’s understanding of the diasporic subjectivity in terms of an impossible mourning, my dissertation examines the ways in which Lahiri redefines the notions of belonging and arrival as regards the Indian-American second generation not in terms of cultural assimilation – which would hardly make sense for characters who were born in the U.S. in the first place – but in terms of a re-symbolization of the gaps in the parents’ migrant narratives, more particularly in terms of the “phantom loss” haunting transgenerational relationships between migrants and their offspring. While investigating the figures of emptiness, spectrality, and the message, my dissertation takes various psychoanalytic theories by Sigmund Freud, Julia Kristeva, Nicolas Abraham, Maria Torok and Jean Laplanche, among others, as its major methodological tools. As against a critical consensus that overemphasizes matters of culture, such theoretical framework aims to revaluate the power of the literary in Lahiri’s work. Although this dissertation extends, at times, to Lahiri’s three books, its four chapters boil down to a close reading of the three texts constituting the “Hema and Kaushik” trilogy, which also form part 2 of Lahiri’s 2008 collection of short stories, Unaccustomed Earth. Through these three narratives, which all traffic with the dead-mother metaphor, Lahiri can be seen to inscribe the dimension of mourning at the heart of her approach to “generational arrival.” The three short stories of “Hema and Kaushik” indeed bring to the fore some unacknowledged facets of the much-idealized diasporic experience, which forces us to revise the cultural scenarios through which today’s contemporary world constructs, even essentializes, the figure of the migrant as an emblem of ultimate freedom. My close reading of “Hema and Kaushik” falls into four parts. Part 1 looks at “Once in a Lifetime,” the first text of Lahiri’s trilogy, with a view to showing how the apostrophic form of the text opens up a space of mourning which might blur the boundaries between absence and presence, return and arrival, self and other, but also positions Kaushik, for Hema, as a transitionary figure whose absence might well prove crucial in letting Hema-as-narrator acquire her own generational voice. Part 2 is devoted to “Year’s End,” and investigates the ways in which Lahiri employs the Gothic to represent the second generation as being haunted by its own belatedness in relation to the first generation’s experiences. The psychoanalytic theories of Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok, among others, will help me clarify how the dead-mother metaphor, in “Hema and Kaushik,” proves tightly interweaved with notions of transgenerational transmission, connection, and infiltration. Calling into question the possible unity of the “I” in the second text of the trilogy, Part 3 tracks the mole, so to speak, and bears witness to aspects of Lahiri’s work that are not all “in the words,” but “among the words,” to borrow Marcel Proust’s suggestive phrase, notably by revisiting aspects of “Once in a Lifetime” and “Years’ End” that are given a new significance through the interplay of the three texts of the trilogy. Relying on André Green’s concept of the “dead mother,” I will then propose an alternative reading of Lahiri’s trilogy in which Hema’s and Kaushik’s romance is only a surface-plot, enlisted to give representability to “the great unspeakable” of Hema’s life. In Part 4, Jean Laplanche’s description of the formation of the ego and the unconscious in relation to “early messages of the m/other” will allow me to look behind the curtain of transgenerational forms of melancholia, to that place where infinite longing is shown to organize itself not around any “real thing” but around a phantom entity whose idealization covers up the necessity to grapple with one’s involvement in a history of loss, which is also a history of guilt. [less ▲]

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See detailMapping Out the ‘Time Zones’ of Diaspora in Bharati Mukherjee’s Desirable Daughters
Munos, Delphine ULg

in Makokha, J. K. S.; Wawrzinek, Jennifer; West-Pavlov, Russell (Eds.) Border-Crossings: Narrative and Demarcation in Postcolonial Literatures and Media (2012)

Although Bharati Mukherjee is famous, or rather infamous, for her shameless embrace of America and its melting-pot ideology, in Desirable Daughters India, the homeland, is unexpectedly made to re-enter ... [more ▼]

Although Bharati Mukherjee is famous, or rather infamous, for her shameless embrace of America and its melting-pot ideology, in Desirable Daughters India, the homeland, is unexpectedly made to re-enter the stage of immigrant identity construction. In many respects it would seem that it has now become untenable to represent immigrant identity in terms of a one-directional movement from “India” to “America.” In Desirable Daughters the rise of India, the accelerated time/space compression of late capitalism, the post-90s paradigm shift in matters of transnational migration, the emphasis on return migrations and the emergence of a new global interaction indeed dramatically outflank Mukherjee’s previous narrative of American “exceptionalism” – which suddenly seems dated by comparison. By portraying the complex transnational network of connections operating between RIs (Resident Indians) and NRIs (Non Resident Indians), Mukherjee’s book gestures towards the “de-spatialization” of immigrant identity construction and its consequent “re-metaphorization” in terms of “time zones.” What is more, the increasingly compelling influence of contemporary India on the Indo-American diasporic subjectivity marks a “back to the future” return of the repressed which temporally repositions migrant identity between a ghostly time of repetition and a “hauntology” of new becomings. What Mukherjee suggests, I will contend, is that immigrant agency and self-fashioning cannot be associated anymore with the “pioneering spirit” of forward-looking characters that discard their “Indianness” upon (geographical) entry into the West. In my reading of Desirable Daughters the protagonist’s zigzagging path to self-transformation will be emphasized, so that it will become apparent that time has become the fourth space through which new spaces for diasporic identity can be renegotiated. [less ▲]

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See detailDaljit Nagra: Sourires de tigre et dents brunes
Munos, Delphine ULg

Article for general public (2012)

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See detailChaudhuri, Nirad C.: The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian
Munos, Delphine ULg

in Clark, Robert; Sandru, Cristina (Eds.) The Literary Encyclopedia (2012)

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See detailReconceptualizing the Second-Generation Diasporic Subjectivity through Gogol: A Reappraisal of Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake
Munos, Delphine ULg

in Interactions Ege Journal of English and American Studies (2012), 21(1.2), 53-68

While Jhumpa Lahiri’s work might be thought of as one of the most emblematic instances of the popularity of today’s Indian-American diasporic literature, it remains that its hyper-visibility coincides ... [more ▼]

While Jhumpa Lahiri’s work might be thought of as one of the most emblematic instances of the popularity of today’s Indian-American diasporic literature, it remains that its hyper-visibility coincides with an odd form of critical invisibility. Indeed, the vast majority of critical interventions on Lahiri’s three books takes as its premise that view that cultural assimilation and hybridity are still valid notions to investigate narratives focusing on members of the second generation, even as these descendants of migrants consider themselves Indian simply by virtue of their parents, so that they can only claim a second-hand knowledge of migration. Ignoring the difference between first and second-generation Indian-American diasporic experiences – and, what is more, overlooking the fact that the offspring of migrants, unlike their parents, “[do] not really have any other place [than the U.S.] to call home” (Lahiri) – such critical consensus ignores important aspects of Gogol’s complex trajectory in The Namesake. Taking its cue from Vijay Mishra’s understanding of the diasporic subjectivity in terms of an impossible mourning, and more precisely, hinging on the hypothesis that what is passed on from one generation to the next organizes itself less around positive, than negative entities – i.e. the gap, the absent, the unsaid – this essay sets out to examine how, through The Namesake’s protagonist, Lahiri redefines the notions of belonging and arrival as regards the Indian-American second generation not in terms of cultural assimilation – which would hardly make sense for characters who were born in the U.S. in the first place – but in terms of a re-symbolization of the gaps in the parents’ migrant narratives. [less ▲]

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See detailPossessed by Whiteness: Interracial Affiliations and Racial Melancholia in Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Munos, Delphine ULg

in Journal of Postcolonial Writing (2012), 48(4), 396-405

Drawing on whiteness studies and psychoanalytical theory, this article explores representations of interracial relationships as a means to claim and/or contest the ideal of whiteness in Mohsin Hamid’s The ... [more ▼]

Drawing on whiteness studies and psychoanalytical theory, this article explores representations of interracial relationships as a means to claim and/or contest the ideal of whiteness in Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist. In Hamid’s novel, the 9/11 attacks trigger a crisis in self-identification for model-minority Pakistani protagonist Changez, which proves illuminating in terms of the invisible racial subjugation exerted so far upon him by Jim, Changez’s passport into the corporate world, and by Erica, his (white) lifeline to exclusive Manhattan. The article focuses on the ways in which Hamid uses the post 9/11 context to reveal the racial melancholia surreptitiously informing today’s “new” versions of the American Dream, which is apparent in Changez’s and Erica’s relationship as well as in their parallel impossible mourning of the broken mirror of “white” Am/Erica. Emphasizing the extent to which whiteness and racial melancholia permeate the discourse of assimilation, Hamid’s book rewrites the “new” American Dream as what Anne Anlin Cheng has called a “fantasy built on absences”. [less ▲]

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See detailDiasporic Hereafters in Jhumpa Lahiri’s “Once in a Lifetime”
Munos, Delphine ULg

in Schultermandl, Silvia; Toplu, Sebnem (Eds.) A Fluid Sense of Self: The Politics of Transnational Identity (2011)

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See detailRelationality and the Transnational Indian Family in Shauna Singh Baldwin’s “Nothing Must Spoil This Visit”
Munos, Delphine ULg

in Postcolonial Text (2011), 6(1),

In Shauna Singh Baldwin’s “Nothing Must Spoil this Visit,” Arvind, a Toronto-based Sikh, returns to the homeland to visit his family with his new wife Janet, a white Canadian of Hungarian origin. Drawing ... [more ▼]

In Shauna Singh Baldwin’s “Nothing Must Spoil this Visit,” Arvind, a Toronto-based Sikh, returns to the homeland to visit his family with his new wife Janet, a white Canadian of Hungarian origin. Drawing on Sara Ahmed’s critique of the general consensus within post-colonial theory that automatically conflates migration with the transgression of boundaries and the destabilisation of identity, this article discusses Baldwin’s short story with a view to showing how the Indian context proves crucial in deconstructing the intersecting forms of fetishism upon which Arvind’s and Janet’s multicultural and inter-relationship is based. In this return narrative, it is striking that the transnational tendencies of the contemporary world are definitely not an occasion for creating more border-crossings, more plurality, more confrontations and interaction. The encounter with otherness is indeed presented by Baldwin as always-already framed by broader relations of power that are far from being acknowledged as such. What is at stake in this text, I argue, is the somehow counterintuitive truth that migration might well work in favour of, not against, fixed notions of identity. [less ▲]

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See detailGender, Migration and Agency: Developing a “Hauntology” of New Becomings in Shauna Singh Baldwin’s “Devika” and in Ginu Kamani’s “Just Between Indians”
Munos, Delphine ULg

in Acta Scientiarum. Language and Culture (2011), 33(1), 23-29

In recent short stories written by diasporic Indian women writers, changes in terms of location or national identity are generally depicted as providing significant opportunities for Indian women to ... [more ▼]

In recent short stories written by diasporic Indian women writers, changes in terms of location or national identity are generally depicted as providing significant opportunities for Indian women to challenge and revise culturally-inscribed gender roles. In two collections of short stories written respectively by Ginu Kamani and Shauna Singh Baldwin, Junglee Girl and English Lessons and Other Stories, not only are ghosts employed to rupture boundaries between the living and the dead, but they also represent enabling presences which authorize female voices by resurrecting stories of women that have been silenced or forgotten. In these two books, the emergence of the archaic is recurrently tinged with liberating undertones since it opens up new spaces for identity by countering gendered expectations of ‘acceptable’ behaviour and by constructing alternative realities. My essay will therefore focus on the central metaphors of female ghosts and doubles as transitional figures through which women in transit empower themselves. My aim is to show how culturally displaced women appropriate the uncanny so as to engender new identities and assert the value of individual female experience. In these haunted narratives, I will contend, women move from a ghostly time of repetition to a ‘hauntology’ of new becomings. [less ▲]

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See detailV.S. Naipaul's The Enigma of Arrival
Munos, Delphine ULg

in Clark, Robert; Sandru, Cristina (Eds.) The Literary Encyclopedia (2010)

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See detailPossessed by Whiteness: Interracial Affiliations and Racial Melancholia in Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Munos, Delphine ULg

Conference (2010, June 08)

Towards the end of the 20th century, as the propagation of new discourses of ethnic success generated new versions of the American Dream, “America” came to signify not only immigrant mobility and ... [more ▼]

Towards the end of the 20th century, as the propagation of new discourses of ethnic success generated new versions of the American Dream, “America” came to signify not only immigrant mobility and whiteness, but also multiculturalism. As Inderpal Grewal argues in Transnational America, this paradox of sorts was only made possible through a slippage in the meaning of “white,” within which whiteness still connoted Anglo-America, yet extended its meaning to include a more heterogeneous group that passed as white through the endorsement of culturally-specific consumerist practices and middle-class norms of behaviour. Posing as multicultural yet covertly fastening whiteness to an ideal Americanness, these so-called “new” versions of the American Dream elevated the Asian American community to “model minority” status, thus contributing to rationalize away the lure that a “relative whiteness” could somehow be acquired by non-white minority groups. Drawing on whiteness studies and psychoanalytical theory, my paper will explore representations of interracial relationships as a means to claim and/or contest the ideal of whiteness in Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist. In Hamid’s novel, the 9/11 attacks trigger a crisis in self-identification for model-minority protagonist Changez, which proves illuminating in terms of the invisible racial subjugation exerted so far onto him by Jim, Changez’s passport into the corporate world, and by Erica, his (white) lifeline to exclusive Manhattan. My paper will focus on the ways in which Hamid uses the post 9/11 context to reveal the racial melancholia surreptitiously informing today’s “new” versions of the American Dream, which is apparent in Changez’s and Erica’s relationship as well as in their parallel impossible mourning of the broken mirror of “white” Am/Erica. Emphasizing the extent to which whiteness and racial melancholia permeate the discourse of assimilation, Hamid’s book rewrites the “new” American Dream as a “fantasy built on absences” (Anne Anlin Cheng). [less ▲]

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See detailA Place Within: Rediscovering India
Munos, Delphine ULg

in South Asian Diaspora (2010), 2(1), 139-141

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See detailMohsin Hamid blanchit le fondamentalisme
Munos, Delphine ULg

Article for general public (2010)

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See detailGiving up the Ghosts: Diaspora and its Hereafter in “Once in a Lifetime” by Jhumpa Lahiri
Munos, Delphine ULg

Conference (2009, May 23)

In spite of diasporic subjectivity being recurrently conceptualised through a rhetoric of “fluidity,” “multiple affiliations” and “national non-attachment,” today’s literature of the Indian diaspora ... [more ▼]

In spite of diasporic subjectivity being recurrently conceptualised through a rhetoric of “fluidity,” “multiple affiliations” and “national non-attachment,” today’s literature of the Indian diaspora reveals that the “un-transnational” ideology of the return is still running deep in the first and second-generation migrant imaginary. Vijay Mishra’s recent attempt to explore the idea of “writing diaspora” in an analogy with writing trauma or writing mourning is illuminating in this respect, because it constitutes a theoretical framework able to bear witness to the maintenance of a diasporic imaginary structured by the loss of the Motherland, whether this loss involves firsthand experience of migration or originates from a “phantom loss” refigured by the second generation. Drawing on Mishra’s theorizing of the diasporic imaginary, my paper will explore Jhumpa Lahiri’s representation of the second generation’s “inheritance of loss” in “Once in a Lifetime,” the short-story opening Unaccustomed Earth’s trilogy. By narrating Hema’s and Kaushik’s parallel journey from childhood to early adulthood, Lahiri rewrites the notion of return as melancholic attachments through which the unsymbolizable gap left by the absence of the Motherland can be represented, renegotiated and perhaps then, put to rest. In my paper, I wish to show that not only does Lahiri use melancholy as a means of representing second-generation subjectivities haunted by impossible mourning and unclaimed legacies, but also that she rehabilitates the notion of return as a way of envisaging a diasporic future that is swarming with ghosts. In that sense, Lahiri illustrates that the notion of homeland and the trope of the return can also be associated with a promise of futurity. [less ▲]

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