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Masculine Migrations

Masculine Migrations: Reading the Postcolonial Male in New Canadian Narratives

Copyright Date: 1998
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Masculine Migrations
    Book Description:

    Examines the representation of masculinities in the work of some of Canada?s most exciting writers, including Michael Ondaatje, and Rohinton Mistry, to show how cross-cultural migration disrupts assumed codes for masculine behaviour and practice.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7710-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Sources and Permissions
    (pp. xvii-2)
  6. Introduction: Reading Masculine Migrations
    (pp. 3-28)

    This book is about masculinities in migration: when men emigrate, they take a familiar, though not necessarily unified, set of masculine practices with them; when they immigrate, they encounter a second, less-familiar set of masculine practices. Migration thus involves a process ofcross-cultural refraction. Just as the transition between elements makes the straight drinking-straw appear to bend in the glass of water, so, too, the transition from one culture to another produces distortions. Any movement between distinct social communities will involve such perspectival shifts; a move between rural and urban environments, for example, or between different linguistic or ethnic enclaves,...

  7. 1 ′Playin′ ′mas,′ Hustling Respect: Multicultural Masculinities in Two Stories by Austin Clarke
    (pp. 29-51)

    Austin Clarke has published fifteen volumes of fiction and autobiography since 1964, making him one of the most prolific writers living in Canada today. Yet, despite the Barbadian-born writer′s considerable Canadian success, most of the responses to Clarke′s work to date have come from critics who share his Caribbean background. Lloyd W. Brown′sEl Dorado and Paradise: Canada and the Caribbean in Austin Clarke′s Fiction(1989); the 1994 biography by Stella Algoo-Baksh; articles by Victor Ramraj, Horace Goddard, Frank Birbalsingh, Anthony Boxill, and Keith S. Henry - all make use of that background to delineate the complex genealogy of Caribbean...

  8. 2 How to Make Love to a Discursive Genealogy: Dany Laferrière′s Metaparody of Racialized Sexuality
    (pp. 52-81)

    Dany Laferrière, like Austin Clarke, takes up the scenario of the black male trickster who uses sexual relations with white women to gain social and economic advantages. Just as Joshua is a master of the improvising strategies of the West Indian man-of-words, so, too, is Vieux, the protagonist-narrator in Laferrière′s 1985 novelComment faire l′amour avec un Négre sans se fatiguer(translated by David Homel with the titleHow to Make Love to a Negro, 1987).¹ Vieux′s tricky improvisations, like Joshua′s, produce a parody that exposes and destabilizes often hidden ideologies of masculinity. But Laferrière addresses explicitly what remains implicit...

  9. 3 Resisting Heroics: Male Disidentification in Neil Bissoondath′s A Casual Brutality
    (pp. 82-104)

    If Joshua and Vieux consciously engage with certain social codes of masculinity, Dr Rajnath Ramsingh, the narrator of Neil Bissoondath′s first novel,A Casual Brutality, tries to resist socially prescribed performances. Whereas Joshua and Vieux overperform different kinds of manhood in the face of alienating, and even hostile, social circumstances, Raj underperforms his masculinity. Whereas their parodic performances are given to hyperbole, his actions tend to a sincere variety of understatement. Bissoondath′s novel, then, presents a very different kind of masculinity from those with which I began this study. In the previous two chapters, I traced two types of assertive...

  10. 4 Michael Ondaatje′s Family Romance: Orientalism, Masculine Severance, and Interrelationship
    (pp. 105-130)

    LikeA Casual Brutality, Michael Ondaatje′s fictionalized memoir,Running in the Family, constitutes a narration of loss. Ondaatje′s narrative, like Bissoondath′s, traces an emigrant son′s return from Canada to the island of his birth and his failure to connect satisfyingly with his past. Like Bissoondath, he outlines the alienation that derives from a traumatic family history of displacement and migration. The similarities continue in that the son′s alienation is most poignantly figured in his lost father: the emigrant son′s severance frompatriais emotionally intensified through his severance frompater. But the parallels stop there, for, whereas Bissoondath′s protagonist, Raj,...

  11. 5 The Law of the Father under the Pen of the Son: Rohinton Mistry, Ven Begamudré, and the Romance of Family Progress
    (pp. 131-158)

    In chapter 4, I argued that the extended family′s desire to recuperate from its traumatic past - from social decline and internal dysfunction - mobilizes the family romance that Michael Ondaatje inherits and re-writes inRunning in the Family. This chapter traces Rohinton Mistry′s and Ven Begamudré′s inheritance of a more forward-looking type of family narrative, one which I will call, echoing some of the concerns of the previous chapter, the romance of family progress. Like the Freudian romance, the romance of family progress responds to disillusion through the construction of a family fantasy, and, like the Freudian version, this...

  12. Afterword: Masculine Innovations and Cross-Cultural Refraction
    (pp. 159-170)

    Masculine Migrationswill not conclude. My purpose has been to write towards an opening of possibilities rather than towards closure or settlement. I have been concerned to trace masculinitiesin process, in transition, in movement. To impose certitudes, claims of arrival, solutions at this point would be to commit the Great Male Disappointment of premature ejaculation. This, then, is an afterword, an endingin medias res, a rhetorical way of stepping back from an ongoing process to meditate on its implications even while they continue to unfold.

    Masculine Migrationsis about men′s negotiations of social constraints and their innovations within...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 171-176)
  14. Works Cited
    (pp. 177-188)
  15. Index
    (pp. 189-201)