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Negotiating the gendered ethnic self in selected fictions of Amy Tan and Bharati Mukherjee
Published in Springer Netherlands
Volume: 46
Issue: 2
Pages: 435 - 462
In focusing on the ethnic American fictions of Amy Tan and Bharati Mukherjee, this paper seeks to contest the generalisation that the Asian American identity is male. Being women of colour, Tan and Mukherjee have formulated creative ways of countering the racism of the mainstream white culture by reclaiming the right to tell their own stories. Exemplifying radically different ways in which racial and ethnic minorities often seek assimilation into the mainstream society, this paper exhibits how these writers reconstruct Asian American women’s subjectivity by articulating their longing for freedom from the oppression of both American and Chinese/Indian patriarchy. Premised on the reality of the Chinese woman sharing with her Indian counterpart the erasure of her individuality, her subordination to patriarchy and its institutions, this paper foregrounds the multiple modes of resistance embraced by immigrant women to counter patriarchal oppression. The matrilineal continuum resisting historico-cultural erasure in Tan’s fiction speaks to Mukherjee’s use of betrayal as a tool to undermine patriarchy and her protagonist’s struggle to rewrite normative narratives of American identity through personal and cultural transformation. Further, this paper probes how these writers adopt the testimonial narrative style as a means of ‘writing back’. In inaugurating new modes of women empowerment, these writers dismantle the notion of vulnerability associated with immigrant women. In conclusion, the paper investigates how authentically Tan and Mukherjee, who enjoy the privileges of the First world, are able to represent economically marginalised Third World immigrant women. © 2019, Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary.
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