Reading Diasporic Literature Using Cultural Trauma Theory: A Study of Sethu’s Aliyah
Diasporic literature prominently deals with the concepts of home, identity and memory. There is an endless cycle of remembering the past and creating the present. The term ‘trauma’ is often associated with diasporic literature because of the crisis of identity and memory faced by the diasporic subject.
Reading diasporic literature using contemporary literary trauma theory would prove to be an engaging exercise. Trauma theory is constantly evolving to accommodate various viewpoints and possibilities. Among the various theories put forward by trauma theorists, Jeffrey Alexander’s theory of cultural trauma engages with trauma as a social theory. The possibility of utilising Alexander’s theory of cultural trauma to read literature is being explored in the recent years. Cultural trauma theory deals with issues of collective memory and re-presenting history.
Sethu is a Malayalam fiction writer who has published more than thirty-five books. His novel Aliyah, translated from Malayalam, narrates the life of Salamon, the representative of a small Jewish community in Kerala. Set against the backdrop of the return of Jews from the diaspora to their homeland, the novel engages with the protagonist’s quest for ‘home.’ The present paper aims to suggest the possibility of studying diasporic literature using cultural trauma theory by taking the novel Aliyah as an example.
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