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THE CULT OF AUTHENTICITY AND THE EXOTIC EAST: A RE-ORIENTALIST READING OF JAMIL AHMAD’S THE WANDERING FALCON AND UZMA ASLAM KHAN’S TRESPASSING
This study intends to find traces of Re-Orientalism in the present day Pakistani fiction in English and the marketability of such works in the global capitalist market. In contemporary times, under the garb of their putative postcolonial identity, Oriental writers of South Asian origin tend to commodify their native Oriental culture for the consumption of western readers. They practice what is now called Re-Orientalism. This project investigates the process and workings of this re-Orientalisation with a premise that there is a demand for exotically flavored fare due to which writers willingly pander to this demand and voluntarily self-other themselves and their culture to provide an unsustaining diet that leaves the consumer ever hungry. This research invokes Lisa Lau, Graham Huggan, and Meenakshi Mukherjee’s theoretical forays to read Jamil Ahmad’s The Wandering Falcon and Uzma Aslam Khan’s Trespassing. Lau professes that Orientalism is no longer propagated by Occidentals but, ironically enough, by Orientals. This process of Re- Orientalism distorts the representation of Orient to a great extent by seizing voice and platform and, once again, consigning the Oriental within the Orient to a position of the Other. I employ Graham Huggan’s theorizing in order to investigate whether such writing is the outcome of the lure of lucrative Western market and to examine if it may be sold as a cultural commodity in international cultural trade. Re-Orientalism takes into account the issue of representation and explores how far true or un-true that representation is. It also studies the means used by the writer to make his/her work look like anthropologically anchored, which in turn raises the problematic issues of “authenticity” discussed by Meenakshi Mukherjee in her essays. This study aims to critically analyze the problem of generalization, the processes instrumental in commodifying culture as an object of mostly metropolitan, global consumption, and insidious nature of “truth claims”. Since this research is likely to be exploratory and interpretive, this project will be qualitative in nature and, therefore, textual analysis will suit this investigation as research method.