Narrating alternative histories : an exploration of Jamal Mahjoub's The carrier and Amitav Ghosh's In an antique land

Eberhard, Nicole Joanne (2014-04)

Thesis (MA)-- Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie tesis ondersoek die verhouding tussen die verlede en die hede soos uitgebeeld in Jamal Mahjoub se The Carrier (1998) en Amitav Ghosh se In an Antique Land (1992). Hierdie tekste herverbeel die geskiedenis met die doel om 'n ander toekoms te dink. Hulle vertel alternatiewe geskiedenisse en lewer sodoende kritiek op die Westerse historiografie en die uitbeelding van die Ooste en die Suide daarin. Hierdie tesis sal uit Edward Said se Orientalism (1978) put as 'n manier om die dominante Westerse houdings teenoor die Ooste sowel as die Suide, verteenwoordig deur Afrika, te konseptualiseer soos die liminale karakters in Mahjoub en Ghosh se tekste oor die Indiese Oseaan- en Mediterreense wêrelde beweeg. Beide Mahjoub en Ghosh versplinter hulle verhale in 'n historiese en 'n kontemporêre draad, en verweef hierdie fragmente om sodoende kommentaar te lewer op die dinamiese verhouding tussen die verlede en die hede. Hierdie verhouding sal gekonseptualiseer word deur te put uit Walter Benjamin se konsep van 'n konstellasie verbindingspunte in tyd. Die kartering van verbindings word moontlik gemaak deur die skrywer se verkenning van 'n geskiedenis van verbindings tussen diverse mense in hierdie gebiede. Die alternatiewe geskiedenisse wat hier voorgestel word, onthul pre-koloniale Mediterreense en Indiese Oseaan-handelsnetwerke gebou op uitruiling, wat gelei het tot kosmopolitiese samelewings waarin die klem op verbindings eerder as geopolitiese binêre geval het. Gesprekke tussen verskillende kulture, gelowe en denkskole dryf hierdie verbindings in die historiese verhaallyne. Deur hierdie vergange wêreld en 'n meer vyandige twintigste-eeuse wêreld naas mekaar te stel, wil Mahjoub en Ghosh bevraagteken of die herkonseptualisering van die verlede die herverbeelding van die hede en toekoms moontlik maak, in terme van hoe mense in staat is om oor verskilgrense heen met mekaar te verbind.

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis interrogates the relationship between the past and the present, as represented in Jamal Mahjoub's The Carrier (1998) and Amitav Ghosh's In an Antique Land (1992). These texts re-imagine history in order to think a different future. They narrate alternative histories and in the process critique Western historiography and its representation of the East and South. This thesis will draw on Edward Said’s Orientalism (1978) as a way of conceptualising dominant Western attitudes towards the East, as well as the South, represented by Africa, as the liminal characters in Mahjoub and Ghosh's texts move across the Indian Ocean and Mediterranean worlds. Mahjoub and Ghosh both fracture their narratives into a historical and a contemporary thread, interweaving these fragments in order to comment on the dynamic relationship between the past and the present. This relationship will be conceptualised drawing on Walter Benjamin's notion of a constellation connecting points in time. The mapping of connection is enabled by the authors’ exploration of a history of connection between diverse people in these regions. The alternative histories proposed reveal precolonial Mediterranean and Indian Ocean trading networks built on exchange, resulting in cosmopolitan societies emphasising connection rather than geopolitical binaries. Conversations across differences — of culture, religion, and schools of thought — drive these connections in the historical plotlines. By juxtaposing this past world with a more hostile twentieth century world, Mahjoub and Ghosh seek to question whether reconceptualising the past enables the re-imagining of the present and future, in terms of how people are able to connect across boundaries of difference.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/86699
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