Postcultural studies have highlighted how the body is a social marker which emphasises differences in an us/we vs they/them relationship. If on the one hand, abuse and oppression are directly put into practice on the mind and the body of the human being, on the other one the body might become the “ground” where to root a constructive intercultural dialogue. It happens that the visual image of a body becomes not only the metonymy of a national (or a racial) identity, but also a “location” that enquires as well as a “location” enquired into. Politics of visibility and invisibility have always been exploited both to underline an impossible integration of the black migrant in a white society, as for example Enoch Powell stated in his (in-)famous “The River of Blood” – “To be integrated into a population means to become for all practical purposes indistinguishable from its other members. Now, at all times, where there are marked physical differences, especially of colour, integration is difficult though, over a period, not impossible.” (April 20 1968) – and to assert one’s own presence in an “alien” country, as represented by Hanif Kureishi in My Son the Fanatic, where a group of second generation Muslims engages in an identitarian struggle which is mediated by their “fashionable” and highly visible bodies. Of course, in between these two extremes there is a variety of visibility which denotes an enforced conformity or dis-conformity to the dominant norms. In the same line, I would like to remember the British migration policies in the Seventies when the labour market preferred white to coloured workers. This fact shows how a bodily attribute became a discursive construct, albeit hierarchies of whiteness were established for example between white-Irish workers and white-Russian workers, in what was called “the wages of whiteness”. Visibility and recognition is a way to confront mainstream and stereotypes. Is the stereotype which creates the visibility or vice versa is the visibility which creates the stereotype? We might argue that the problem does not lie in the interpretative codification (stereotype), but in the existence of a mainstream which dynamically tries to incorporate a subjectivity into a prevailing group, while it frustrates the possibility to freely manifest one’s Self. Can we say that a visualization of our identity re-codes our personal semiotics by additions, deletions, and revisions, in what actively constitutes and motivates the operative “I”? The hyper-visualization of the cultural body or its erasure is a form of writing, I mean it is a way to give form, and meaning to a diasporic identity. In so doing, the latter gives voice to a social tension which is generally administered by state policies and the law: think about the Islamic headscarf controversy in France. The display of the diasporic identity forces the West to re-evaluate itself as a centre, since any ‘alien body’ makes also the peculiarities of the ‘domestic body’ visible thanks to a dialogical hermeneutics guided by differance. More often, by a hyper-visualization of (stressing) conflicts (with their dangerous effects), diaspora literature underlines the possibility of a peaceful dialogue based on a personal semantics rather than on social and legal premises. Literature builds nuance of character and thematic significances which might be hard to recognize in reality because of our cultural false believes. Therefore, it fosters the development of a renewed sensitivity through the exemplification of an action or attitude: race becomes thought-in-action that works on hegemonic attitudes, so that a storytelling turns into knowledge, I mean into the truth about our daily praxis. Such process implies the narration of the co-existence. The more the detailed charting of the self is defined, the more the perception of the other is refined. It is at that point that cultural equalities, rather than more obvious cultural differences, come to the fore. Anyway, notwithstanding the opportunities offered by society or the way we ask to be perceived, the belonging to a tradition and the social membership are ruled by will, action and consciousness. In a multicultural context, citizenship is set by the agency individuals exercise in being visible or invisible. It is my intention to discuss this issue taking into consideration postcolonial fiction and cinema with a particular attention on Indian disapora both with respect to Hindu and Muslim cultures.
|Titolo:||Visibility and Invisibility in Diaspora|
|Nome del convegno:||Law and literature in diaspora studies: Villa Vigoni-Gespräche|
|Anno del convegno:||2013|
|Luogo del convegno:||Loveno di Menaggio (CO)|
|Data di pubblicazione:||8-mag-2013|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||02 - Intervento a convegno|