Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Gwen Bergner.


My dissertation examines fiction and autobiography by diasporic South Asian women writers to analyze the processes of subject formation in the diaspora. Analyzing the literary expressions of Jhumpa Lahiri, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Shauna Singh Baldwin, and Meena Alexander on contemporary diasporic identities, I examine the critical insights they offer to understanding subjectivity. I argue that subjectivity in the diaspora develops in response to the individual's experience of location. By location I refer to both physical and ideological spaces the individual occupies over time. Examining subjectivity in the diaspora as an analytical and empirical category, I focus on the tactics and interventions enacted by diaspora characters for enabling survival in the diaspora. Thus, I explore subjectivity in the diaspora developing as a function of the space the individual inhabits, experiences, and responds to. My analysis illustrates that diaspora subjectivity is mediated, hybrid, relational, and representative of the tactical strategies developed by the subject, strategies both represented and enacted in the work of these writers. I argue that these strategies reflect the autonomic agency of the subject in response to their locations. My research responds to the insufficient scholarship on South Asian women writers who theorize diasporic subjectivity. At the same time, I critique the lacuna in postcolonial and cultural theory where either location or space are generically theorized but that overlook or subordinate the experiences of the human subject. I work, in short, towards a theory of subjectivity, agency, and responsibility that accounts for both the restrictions and the possibilities of social and empirical space for diaspora characters. Ultimately, my analysis of diaspora subjectivity underscores the modes of cultural survival sustaining the subject in diaspora locations.