“Imagined Homelands: Fractured Domesticities in Disparate Histories in Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth”

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Maria Rhodora G. Ancheta

Abstract

This paper proposes to read Jhumpa Lahiri’s short story collection Unaccustomed Earth (2008) as instances of fractured domesticities and domestic fractures. This paper aims to examine how the apparently quiet, normal, routine intimate family moments and relationships Lahiri features in these stories are ways by which Bengali-Americans exhibit their own diasporic subjectivities.
While the stories focus on Indian-Americans living apparently affluent, upper-middle class American lives, the shifts in relationships, generations, and literal geographic movements could be tracked as ways to “build hybrid realizations” (see also Katrak) in everyday life as im/migrant histories, especially in a South Asian sense.
This paper problematizes, too, the United States and India as “imagined homelands”, thereby reckoning with Unaccustomed Earth’s characters not only as hybrid identities but as liminal ones, as identities negotiating transnational migrant histories and conditions for which concepts of American domesticity are seen as a possible palliative.

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