Year

2006

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

School of English Literatures, Philosophy and Languages - Faculty of Arts

Abstract

This thesis responds to gaps in the scholarship of 'minority literatures' and makes a new contribution to diversifying the field of literary criticism. Given the prominence of South Asian diasporic fiction overseas, the study of South Asian-Australian fiction is now overdue. Given the growing recognition of multicultural and Asian-Australian literatures, the study of South Asian-Australian cultural production now requires attention. Working from the premise that a fictional text is a storytelling device open to a number of interpretations and a commodity with a degree of cultural capital, this thesis examines the tactics employed in and around selected works of fiction. Literary texts are marked by the politics publishing and academic theory. This thesis examines some of the 'invisible layers of intervention' that shape cultural production by indicating the placement of South Asian-Australian fiction within overlapping sets of academic, commercial and policy environments (Apter, 2001: 4). Having affirmed the importance of bringing a relatively invisible area of study into view, this thesis also considers the productive limits and limitations of literary categorisation. To this end, it draws on interviews with a number of writers who speak about their (self)-positioning. It remains crucial to consider the narrative detail of South Asian-Australian fiction: what types of stories do South Asian-Australian writers choose to tell and how do they craft them, what are the effects of such narratives and how are their complex cultural locations conveyed? The majority of this thesis is concerned with fleshing out these questions through detailed textual analysis that focuses on the w/rites of passage arising from the act of migration. Testing the utility of concepts drawn from postcolonial studies, theories of diaspora and critical multiculturalism, this thesis argues for an integrated theoretical approach to a set of texts that operate across local, national and transnational literary contexts.

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