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Title: Jameson's Theory of National Allegory in the Context of Globalization: A Study of Pakistani Literature
Authors: Rabbani, Munazzah
Keywords: Arts & Humanities
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: The Women University, Multan
Abstract: Due to the advent of postcolonialism as well as of globalization in the late twentieth century, Jameson’s famous and also quite highly debated construct of National Allegory (1986) has assumed significance due to its homogenizing and binaristic categorization of the first world and the third world literary productions on the basis of the former’s capitalist modes of production and the latter’s past colonial experiences. Jameson emphasized that the fragmented de-politicized subject of the first world literary narratives is the outcome of the Western capitalist modes of production, while the highly politicized subject of the third world literary narratives is shaped by the past colonial encounter(s). Hence, the individual’s destiny in the third world literary narratives is almost always the “allegory of the embattled situation of the public third world culture and society” (Jameson, 1986, p. 69). Jameson’s equation of the aesthetic mode of production with the economic mode of production limits the third world literary narratives only to the domain of nationalism as he believes that “a certain nationalism is fundamental in the third world” (1986, p. 65 Emphasis added). But this essentialization of “fundamental” (ibid.) nationalism has become susceptible to re assessment and re-evaluation in these times of globalization. Globalization with its emphasis on deterritorialization questions the relevance of Jameson’s National Allegory in the spatial context of the third world narratives. To limit the impact of global capitalist experience only to the first world texts and contexts seems to nullify what Held et al (1999) describe as the unprecedented inevitable phenomenon of globalization that is overtaking the globe and nullifying the role of nation states. In this context, Jameson’s National Allegory needs to be probed anew and its relevance determined again, particularly, for the third world literature(s). In this context, this research is premised upon a reading of Pakistani literature in English from the perspective of Jameson’s National Allegory and combines this national and allegorical reading with the impact of globalization—with its specific emphasis on deterritorialization—to render possible an epistemic grounding that encapsulates the co existence of these apparently conflicting and contradictory notions in Pakistani literature in English to probe the relevance of Jameson’s construct in these times of globalization. For this purpose, two male and two female writers of Pakistani origin—Mohsin Hamid, Kamila Shamsie, Muhammad Hanif, and Sara Suleri—have been chosen; three out of these four writers—Hamid, Shamsie and Hanif—belong to the “big five” (Chambers, 2011; 2017) of Pakistani literature in English, and Suleri has been made part of this research to add a feminist re-telling of history and nationalism in Pakistan. On the whole, five works of fiction and one memoir including Hamid’s “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” (2007) and “How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia” (2013), Shamsie’s “Burnt Shadows” (2009) and “A God in Every Stone” (2014), Hanif’s “Our Lady of Alice Bhatti” (2011), and Suleri’s “Meatless Days” (1989) have been included in this research. The theoretical framework relied upon in this research includes Jameson’s (1986) National Allegory as an over-arching construct; as Jameson himself has made use of psychoanalysis in his elaboration of National Allegory so the Lacanian interpretation of identification in the context of national and global imaginaries has also been made part of the framework. Along with these, Harvey’s (2005) reading of neoliberalism, Roy’s (2004) global neofundamentalism, Hogue’s (2003) polycentrism, Braidotti’s (1994) reading of nomadic polyglot, and Adam’s (1990) feminist reading of the politics of meat and Eisentein’s (2005) feminist interpretation of nationalism have been made part of the framework. The analysis carried out in this research reveals that Jameson’s National Allegory as a simplistic unitary homogenized category is not sufficient to study Pakistani literature in English in these times of globalization. The six works analyzed in this research cannot be simply labeled as National Allegories as Hamid, for the most part, produces global capitalist/neoliberal allegories. “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” (2007) is a global allegory, not a National Allegory, as it offers a critique of global capitalist fundamentalism and global religious (neo)fundamentalism, not of the nation state or nationalism. “How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia” (2013), again, can be termed a neoliberal allegory concerned with the “developmentalist logic” (Prasad, 1998, p. 3) as it essentializes the need to probe the neoliberal idea of development to detach it from its Eurocentric roots. Shamsie produces both global and national allegories as her work “Burnt Shadows” (2009) has been analysed as a global allegory of nomadic becoming that foregrounds the dis/re-placements of a global nomad in postnational setting. “A God in Every Stone” (2014) can be termed a National Allegory that is global in orientation as it is premised upon a polycentric reading of (national) history and a lococentric palimpsestuous bonding with a city. Suleri’s “Meatless Days” (1989), again, is a National Allegory, not a nationalist allegory, that probes the gendered dimensions of nationalism and questions the absence of women in national narratives and spaces through the national politics of meat using Derrida’s (1995) notion of carno-phallogocentrism. Hanif’s “Our Lady of Alice Bhatti” (2011) can be termed an (anti)National Allegory that deals with the role of faith in the formation and sustenance of national imaginary; it allegorizes the marginalization and othering of minorities through, what Natarajan terms as, the “erotics of nationalism” (1994, p. 73) that eroticizes minority women’s bodies, and sexualizes their victimization to centralize the exclusivist notions of masculine national selfhood. Hence, Jameson’s National Allegory cannot be unequivocally used as a singular category for the evaluation of Pakistani literature in English. The disparate, almost chaotic nature of this literature cannot be simply tied down to this over-simplified category of “fundamental” (Jameson, 1986, p. 65) nationalism. This research makes manifest the need to use Jameson’s National Allegory only as a contextual category for the evaluation of Pakistani literature in English and it highlights the need to evolve multiple heterogeneous non-binaristic categories for the evaluation of third world literature(s) in these times of globalization.
Gov't Doc #: 27009
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