Date of Award

8-10-2021

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Renee Schatteman

Second Advisor

Jay Rajiva

Third Advisor

Randy Malamud

Abstract

Conflating history with literature, and drawing on the powerful metaphor of displacement, my project looks at the select Anglophone prose narratives of six Pakistani writers – Saadat Hasan Manto, Mumtaz Shah Nawaz, Zulfikar Ghose, Sara Suleri, Kamila Shamsie, and Mohsin Hamid – to analyze the multiple forms of pluralist belonging that constitute the collective modern Pakistani identity. Despite the different social, literary, and historical contexts in which these works emerged and developed, key themes that appear in the works of the selected authors – including displaced identities along sudden cartographic divisions, demythologization of national identities, an enduring and intimate identification with places of birth that predates the Partition, and the identity formation of minority and interracial women in an Islamic state – not only refute the idea that Pakistani and Muslim identities are synonymous, but also collectively raise questions about, and provide alternatives to, some of the country’s dominant forms of national identification in the last seven decades. I further suggest that since the country’s inception, the unwavering commitment of Pakistan’s anglophone writing to promote a collective identity at once problematizes the idea of a state-sponsored national identity and evokes the secular agenda behind Pakistan’s genesis as espoused by its charismatic founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah. The selected narratives compete with Western images of prejudice and stereotypes generated by political discourse and media coverage of Pakistan as a problematic partner in the so-called war on terror. They also necessitate a re-visitation of historical perspectives about Pakistan’s inception, Jinnah’s ideology in the creation of Pakistan, as well as postcolonial studies’ reductive fixation on Partition and compartmentalized Muslim identities when dealing with English language writers of Pakistani origin.

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