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[Pn. 6] Overturning Colonial Indifference: Female Desire and Sexuality in Modern Postcolonial Novel

19 October 2013


The paper I propose will serve as an introduction to my dissertation project, which focuses on female desire and sexuality in postcolonial literature. Through an exploration of three contemporary postcolonial novels, Edwidge Danticat’s The Farming of Bones, Ahdaf Soueif’s The Map of Love, and Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things, I intend to examine how female expressions of sexuality—namely the acknowledgement, pursuit, and satisfaction of love and desire—serve, by varying degrees, to transgress the colonial force of indifference. Only through bodily expressions of sexuality, through allowing their physical desires to lift them out of the numbness and indifference with which they face their roles as colonial/postcolonial subjects, are the female characters depicted in these three novels able to reclaim buried, fragmented memories, to cast off the veils of apathy and ignorance, and, ultimately, to free themselves. Using postcolonial and gender theory to guide me through a consideration of these female voices and perspectives—which span different postcolonial regions and cultures—and the relationships these women enter into, I intend to establish how such indifference functions and how it can be overcome in the lives and through the bodies of individuals. In novels in which the authors themselves transgress even the conventional rules of time and language, they create a space for their female characters to transgress even more dangerously.


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