Transgenerational Affect and Cultural (Self)Acceptance in Two TransCanadian Short Stories
This article offers a comparative reading of two transCanadian short stories: Nalo Hopkinson’s “A Habit of Waste” (2001) and Shauna Singh Baldwin’s “We are not in Pakistan” (2007). Both stories focus on young women who are descendants of migrant parents in North America—Cynthia from the Caribbean in the first, and Kathleen from Pakistan in the second—and aspire to fit into dominant models of postfeminist femininity. Both narratives trace the protagonists’ similar change of attitude, from their utter rejection of their gendered racialized bodies, to them finally embracing their cultural hybridity. This process is triggered by the affective relationship—which equally changes from disgust to respect—that each girl develops with an elderly figure that, to them, clearly embodies the minority culture they have repudiated. My analysis foregrounds the shared intersectional politics of these two works with regard to race, gender and class, and their common critique of mainstream postfeminism and hegemonic neoliberalism.
Keywords: Canadian literature; transnationalism; feminism; postfeminism; racialized bodies; affect
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