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"This Was My Country-How Could It Not Be?": On the Significance of Travel in M. G. Vassanji's The In-Between World of Vikram Lall

非我家園?:華山吉《維克蘭拉爾的中間世界》中旅行的意義

Abstracts


M. G. Vassanji's The In-between World of Vikram Lall describes how the life of the eponymous protagonist, a third-generation Asian African, is affected by Kenya's independence struggle and its post-colonial aftermath. This essay analyses how this novel uses the motif of travel in order to explore the possibilities and difficulties for Asian Africans to make East Africa their true home. It is often through travel that the protagonist re-examines some facets of his "Kenyan" identity. This essay first explains how the novel reflects the historical particularities of Asian Africans in colonial East Africa, and how those particularities affect the protagonist's early life and his sense of belonging. It then discusses the significance of the trip his family takes when he is an eight-year-old boy, analysing how this journey allows him to bracket the instability of his identity and deepen his sense of geo-cultural belonging. Next, the journeys the adult protagonist undertakes in post-independent Kenya are examined. These trips function as occasions to reaffirm his sense of belonging to the country in spite of the deepening political corruption and his own involvement in it. Lastly, the essay explores the importance of Canada, where he hides himself after fleeing Kenya and writes the autobiography that constitutes most of the novel. The geo-cultural distance between Canada and Africa forces the protagonist to question his relationship with Kenya and ultimately makes him decide to go back to the country.

Parallel abstracts


華山吉2003年作品《維克蘭拉爾的中間世界》描述第三代亞裔非洲人,維克蘭拉爾的生活如何受到肯亞獨立運動與後殖民統治後續的影響。這篇論文試圖分析小說如何運用旅行主題來探索亞裔非洲人認同東非的可能性與困難度,透過旅行論述,檢視主角維克蘭拉爾對於肯亞身份認同的種種複雜面向。論文分為三個部分:首先探討小說如何反應東非亞裔非洲人的歷史特殊性,深入這些特殊之處如何影響拉爾的生活與歸屬感,進而分析童年時期的拉爾所經歷的旅行如何突顯他的身份不確定性,加深他對於地理文化上的認同感。其次,檢視成人之後的拉爾於後獨立時期肯亞的旅行。即使當時肯亞政治崩壞,這些旅行仍加深了他對肯亞的認同感。最後一部分探討加拿大的重要性。加拿大是拉爾逃離肯亞之後的棲身之處,加拿大與非洲之間的地理文化因緣使得拉爾省思他和肯亞之間的連繫,而終究讓他決定回歸肯亞。

References


Cosgrove, Denis E.(1998).Social Formation and Symbolic Landscape.Madison:U of Wisconsin P.
Dubey, Ajay(Ed.)(2010).Indian Diaspora in Africa: A Comparative Perspective.New Delhi:MD Publications.
Fanon, Frantz,Chevalier, Haakon(Trans.)(1989).Studies in a Dying Colonialism.London:Earthscan.
Fisher, Susan(2006).History, Memory, Home: An Exchange with M. G. Vassanji.Canadian Literature.190,49-61.
Gregory, Robert G.(1971).India and East Africa: A History of Race Relations within the British Empire, 1890-1939.Oxford:Clarendon.

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