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English/DAAS Faculty Candidate Job Talk



The Departments of Afroamerican & African Studies and English Language & Literature

Present a Job Talk by



Aliyah Khan

University of California, Santa Cruz



Mimic Woman in Eden:

Becoming Caribbean in a Postcolonial Ecology



Tuesday, February 26, 2013

1:00 pm

4701 Haven Hall


*   *   *


In this talk I examine metamorphic acts of mimicry in Shani Mootoo’s Indo-Caribbean novel Cereus Blooms at Night (1996).  Derek Walcott asserts that mimicry, rather than being, as V.S. Naipaul suggests, permanently perpetuated by the mindless, history-bereft colonial subject, has an integral part to play in the building of new postcolonial identities.  It is relational and ongoing, privileging the magic of the semiotic transformation of bodily and linguistic identity.  Metamorphosis in Indo-Caribbean literature explores ways of representing that go beyond hybridity and the racial imaginary.  The shapes of metamorphosing bodies and the pressures that work on them are integrally connected to the environment and landscapes of the New World.  Cereus is a surrealist reaction to racism and patriarchy by an ostensibly Indo-Trinidadian woman.  In the process of refusing her oppressed humanity, Mala Ramchandin takes up speaking to animals in their own languages, and marks place by leaving snail scent and time by the blooming of her cereus plants.  I argue that shifting species perceptions brings her freedom from postcolonial racial and gender violence.  Cereus defies certain ethnographic and political expectations of postcolonial literature, offering instead creative suggestion, metamorphic exercise in potential, and a magical incantation of Indo-Caribbean relation to the island landscape.


Aliyah is a candidate for a joint faculty position in the Department of English

Language & Literature and the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies.

Start Time: 2/26/2013  1:10 PM
Location: 4701 Haven Hall
Contact: karlyjm@umich.edu
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