Mothering siblings: Diaspora, desire and identity in American born confused Desi

Souter, Kay and Raja, Ira 2008, Mothering siblings: Diaspora, desire and identity in American born confused Desi, Narrative, vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 16-28, doi: 10.1353/nar.2008.0002.

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Title Mothering siblings: Diaspora, desire and identity in American born confused Desi
Author(s) Souter, Kay
Raja, Ira
Journal name Narrative
Volume number 16
Issue number 1
Start page 16
End page 28
Total pages 13
Publisher Ohio State University Press
Place of publication Columbus, Oh.
Publication date 2008
ISSN 1538-974X
Keyword(s) diaspora
Summary In this essay we consider the construction of cultural identity, motherhood and the family in ABCD, a film of the Indian diaspora that had its world premiere at the 2001 London Film Festival. This film reads family, apparently within familiar narrative structures such as the U.S.-immigrant story, as portrayed in films like Goodbye, Columbus and My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and the "leaving home" story, as classically portrayed in Pride and Prejudice, where a young person needs to escape from her clueless family. The irritating presence of the mother in the film, and the quickness with which her two children appear to make life-determining decisions following her death, seem to invite discussions of plot and character organized around ideas of individual development, self-improvement and understanding. This is the territory of the desire plot, an account of family history captured for the twentieth century by Freudian-Lacanian readings which position sexual desire within the unconscious history of familial fantasies, understood as vertical and Oedipal. In this territory, mothers and old ladies become, as Mary Jacobus memorably phrased it, little more than "the waste products" of a system in which marriageable women are objects of exchange between men (142) and a mother's death would be expected to grease the wheels of narrative. Identity and narrative are inextricably linked here: a certain understanding of narrative as developmental and teleological paves the way for an understanding of identity as either/or. There are problems, however, in trying to read ABCD as a bildüngsroman structured by what Susan Freidman calls "the temporal plots of the family romance, its repetitions and discontents" (137), rendering the "Indian" characteristics of the plot unreadable, and the apparently self-defeating nature of the characters' choices and behavior, rather pointless. A central [End Page 16] difficulty is that the film both responds to and resists readings based on the Oedipal model of the bildüngsroman with its focus on linear development through time.
Language eng
DOI 10.1353/nar.2008.0002
Field of Research 169999 Studies in Human Society not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
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Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Deakin Learning Futures
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