Transgressing Disability: Embodied Contamination in Postcolonial Parsi Anglophone Fiction
MetadataShow full item record
This dissertation examines the multidimensional operation of disability in the selected novels of Indian-diasporic authors – Rohinton Mistry (b.1952), Firdaus Kanga (b.1960), and Thrity Umrigar (b.1961), novelists who belong to the miniscule ethno-religious community of Indian Zoroastrians, popularly known as Parsis. I emphasize the necessity of contextualizing these representations within the framework of indigenous Parsi history, religion, culture, and the postcolonial existential reality of their dwindling numbers. I argue that these texts contribute to the scholarship that seeks to decolonize disability studies by offering counter-narratives that resist hegemonic notions of “compulsory able-bodiedness and compulsory heterosexuality” informed by local understandings (McRuer). Most importantly, they also help unburden the Parsi community from its underlying elitism by dismantling the colonial propaganda of its racial superiority, hyper-masculinity, and healthier bodies, which their anxiety surrounding their diminishing population has produced. The trope of disability is deployed in more ways than one in these novels, offering multiple frameworks that expose the inevitable slippages, excesses, and transgressions into other hybrid identities such as race, gender, poverty, ethnicity and sexuality. In this regard, I contend that disability transforms into a ‘fluid’ entity that not only transgresses boundaries but also displays the seemingly irreversible, embodied ‘contamination’ of the very aesthetic and theological notions of Parsi purity laws.