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The question of identity in Hanif Kureishi’s the buddha of suburbia and the black album

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2010
Sezer, Şermin
Against the background of The Buddha of Suburbia and The Black Album, this study explores the ways Hanif Kureishi problematizes the notion of identity. The present study aims to lay bare how Kureishi moves the previously fixed categories into a slippery ground in his fiction and, in the process, how he challenges the fundamental givens of identity politics against the background of Homi Bhabha’s key concepts: hybridity, mimicry, ambivalence, agency, liminality and the third space. It will also make references to the category of nation as narration in relation to Thatcherite politics and identity as a performative act/process. Bhabha’s theories will also help highlight how Kureishi’s characters create their liminal spaces and how they perform their identity within these spaces. Looking at both novels, it is concluded that the nature of identity is fluid since it is configured according to many variables such as religious practice, political activism, arts and sexual discourse which are not stable, either. Kureishi’s novels fictionalize that identity can never be reified by the essentialist pre-givens of the traditional ideologies. In a multicultural world, rather than assimilation, it is important to grasp the unstable nature of identity in order to respect cultural differences. Thus, in a world where the dominant voices do not/cannot suppress the marginal ones, identity, national or individual, will keep on transforming itself.