Negative Representation of the East: A Re-Orientalist gaze into Bharati Mukherjee’s Buried Lives

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Muhammad Hamza, et. al.


Bharati Mukherjee’s fiction revolves around the characters from those countries which were once colonized by the Western superpowers like United Kingdom, France, Italy and United States of America. Although, her main contribution is considered from South Asian identities, yet abundance of characters from Africa, Iran and other parts of the World can be observed in her fictions. Unlike other diasporic writers, Mukherjee’s fiction addresses the hostile and nostalgic feelings of her characters towards one’s own homeland and a kind of assimilation in the alien culture. Looking from this perspective, we can put forward the theory of Re-Orientalism by Lisa Lau and Christina Mendes where they have argued that in most diasporic writers’ fiction, we can identify the feelings of describing Orient as the Westernized version. These writers, whether they live in East or West, have strong affiliations with what West had said about the Orient. Thus, applying Lau and Mendes’s concept of Re-Orientalism, it has been examined “The curious development over these few recent decades is that Orientalism is no longer only the relationship of the dominance and representation of the Oriental by the non-Oriental or Occidental, but that this role appears to have been taken over (in part at least) by other Orientals, namely, the diasporic authors”. Mukherjee’s “Buried Lives” from her collection The Middleman and Other Stories (1989) is analyzed from the perspective of Re-Orientalism where Mukherjee’s description of Sri Lanka is matched up with the Westernized version of the East. This concept of Westernized version of the Orient was taken from Edward Said’s Orientalism (1978).

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