Tracing the maternal: Memory and writing in contemporary American women writers of the diaspora
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In "Tracing the Maternal: Memory and Writing in Contemporary American Women Writers of the Diaspora," I investigate how literary and artistic practices have responded to the challenges of the postcolonial diaspora by tracing contemporary American women writers' textual excavation of the maternal memories of colonial modernity. The textual productions by ethnic minorities that have surged in the postwar America bear witness to the way in which acts of memory become new forms of active interventions in historiography for the part of literature. Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Maxine Hong Kingston, Toni Morrison and Jamaica Kincaid--the writers under study complicate revisionist production of racial and national collective memories through re-inscribing maternal memories within the politics of memory. The literary texts by these writers provide testimonies of the lost memories of the colonized subjects that haunt the postcolonial world. In each chapter, I intend to demonstrate that the literary (re)presentations of the maternal in the juncture of postcolonial diaspora by four American women writers whom I re-call as 'women writers of the diaspora' grope into sites of the (m)other through acts of remembering, providing various powerful interventions in racial, ethnic, and national legacies of colonial histories. While writing about mothers has been one of major topics in twentieth century American women's literature, the writers under investigation --- Cha's invocation of the maternal, Kingston's present absence of the maternal, Morrison's unforgettable but fragmentary maternal, and finally Kincaid's absolute absence of the maternal--reposition the ineffable memories of and by mothers in the context of postcolonial diaspora. Each chapter also considers the writers' textual witnesses that memory does not always seamlessly pass on, and that historical memory necessitates dismemberment of history itself without a guarantee of re-suturing the dismembered. Upon facing this radical impossibility of transmission and representation of the maternal memory of the diaspora, I focus the way in which writers employ "tracing" as a writing style and a methodology of textual remembrance based on theoretical speculation that I conduct through reading French Philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Luce Irigaray, and postcolonial feminist Gayatri Spivak.