Creating a ‘Global Self’: Meena Alexander’s Dilemma of Identity and its Deconstruction

Author: Afrida Aainun Murshida (Department of English, Sikkim University, India)
Speaker: Afrida Aainun Murshida
Topic: Language Ideologies
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2020 General Session


This paper is aimed at a detailed Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis of Fault Lines: A Memoir by Meena Alexander that recounts the entire cross cultural memoir of her experiences. The paper does not claim that the poet deliberately intended to incorporate a global feminist identity in the text while writing the narratives, rather this paper aims to analyze and explore the writings of the author and deconstruct the creation of a ‘Global Self’ by the author through a detailed feminist critical discourse analysis of the language of the text.

Born in Allahabad, into a Syrian Christian family hailing from Kerela, India, Meena Alexander’s work is primarily marked with the multicultural, multilingual, multiple dislocations as recurring themes. Her works largely focus on ‘language, memory and the significance of places’. She not only just unravels her past but at the same time questions and deconstructs her identity instituting it towards a ‘Global Self’ that breaks the precincts of the identity label of a South Indian, South Asian Woman in Diaspora. Her writings primarily question lines, boundaries not just the geographical but also the anatomical and societal. Her identity as an ‘American’, as an ‘Asian-American’, a ‘South Indian Woman’, a ‘Third World Woman’, a Woman of Colour’ and a ‘Woman in Diaspora’ are questions that she probes into and deconstructs in her narratives. The multiplicity of her ‘self’ does not let her establish any one particular cultural identity and thus this inability to assign an identity turns out to be a strong rhetoric that blurs all the other boundaries and lines and deconstructs into a ‘Global Self’.

Keywords: Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis, Identity, Language, Memory, Deconstruction, Self, Global Feminist Identity.