Kitchen at the Border lands: Negotiating the Domesticin a Gendered Diaspora
- Chandrica Baruah
How does the kitchen – which has been a space of repression, containment and abuse, and also one of intergenerational female bonding, community- building and an alternative space of agency – translate, move and revise its affordances and limitations for the woman when placed in the diaspora? How does it shift the relationship of the diasporic woman to the homeland? In this essay, I explore these questions in the context of the South Asian diaspora as depicted in domestic fiction by diasporic women authors Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and Kamila Shamsie which portray the intimate and contentiousrelationshipbetweenthe kitchen andtheprotagonist startingout in an unfamiliar land/ returning ‘home’. Written at the turn of the 20th century post the 1980s surge in South Asian (im)migration, these stories of movements across nations, cultures, and memories prompt diasporic meditations on ‘home’, intimacy, and domestic labour in the face of changing spatial, regional, and territorial affiliations. In doing so, I’d read these stories alongside Gayatri Gopinath’s re-negotiation of the boundaries of diaspora to move beyond the understanding of diaspora as nation-to- nation and redefine it as a regional displacement and emplacement (Unruly Visions, 2018). When the diasporic lens is thus narrowed to a more emotionally-inflected regional movement, memory and belonging become further complicated due to emphatic investments of class, caste, language, religion and family, especially in South Asia where these regional affiliations have a specific history of violence and trauma.
Key words: diaspora, gender, memory, domestic.
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Journal of Frontline Research (Arts & Science)Sibsagar College, Joysagar P.O. & District - SivasagarPin - 785665Assam, India
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