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Vamps, Heroines, Otherwise: Diasporic Women Resisting Essentialism

Fazeela Jiwa

Abstract


This paper examines the shift beyond a preoccupation with ethnic identity in Asian Canadian diasporic literary and cultural productions, challenging the generic conventions of autoethnography. Eisha Marjara’s Desperately Seeking Helen represents one form of South Asian women’s resistance to colonial and patriarchal claims about their subjectivity that are reinforced by Bollywood’s static female stereotypes. Marjara’s interruption inserts women’s experiences into the familiar postcolonial story, using experimental modes to break from methods of memorializing that easily perpetuate prescribed identities. In eliciting Eastern/Western popular culture stereotypes in order to examine their effect on diasporic women, Marjara’s text refuses the submissive, exoticized or silent woman of Bollywood in favour of one who resists.

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