Date of Degree

2-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Liberal Studies

Advisor

Tomohisa Hattori

Subject Categories

American Literature | Asian American Studies | Other English Language and Literature | Other Languages, Societies, and Cultures | Political History | Reading and Language

Keywords

Pakistan, refugee, literature of globalization, late capitalism, cognitive mapping

Abstract

Mohsin Hamid’s novels—Exit West, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and Moth Smoke—offer fecund ground for thinking through globalization and the changing world system. Bruce Robbins articulates a working definition of the “worldly” or global novel as one that “encourage[s] us to look at superstructures, or infrastructures, or the structuring force of the world capitalist system." Following on Robbins’s argument, Leerom Medovoi has written that Hamid’s work belongs to a body of literature that “is not so much of or by, but for Americans”—which he terms “world-system literature,” a literary application of Immanuel Wallerstein’s world systems analysis. This paper considers the ways in which Hamid evokes a world system constituted by distinctions between core and periphery, and describes the breakdown of this system as the walls between them become ever more porous. The paper begins with a brief biographical background of the author and the geopolitical context in which the novels were written, followed by a survey of some key theoretical texts that foreground the world systems structure at work in Hamid’s oeuvre. Next, the author traces the triangulation of core/semi-periphery/periphery that Hamid deploys in these four novels; and finally, analyzes the ways in which the reader—particularly the American reader—is positioned and implicated within the world system. Moving from historical to theoretical to literary analyses, this paper explores the ways in which Hamid’s fiction is exemplar of “world-system literature.”

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