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Identity Formation in Muslim Diasporic Literature: Randa Abdelfattah's Does my Head Look Big in this? and Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fendamentalist as Cases of Study

This is a MA research paper written by Mohammed Abdallah, a second year PhD student in Identity and Difference. Diasporic novels have been the object of an ever increasing flow of writings, one of which is this paper. It is a comparative study that is concerned with several main issues that run through Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007) and Randa Abdelfattah’s Does my Head Look Big in this (2005). These issues, which are the result of cultural encounters, are mimicry, hybridity, ambivalence, and sense of belonging. The Label Muslim diasporic subject is an umbrella term that encompasses lots of experiences depending on the interpretations a given Muslim diasporic subject might attribute to a given religious text. Therefore, this thesis contains theories and analyses of excerpts of the aforementioned novels. This thesis attempts to locate signs of mimicry, ambivalence, hybridity and sense of belonging in both texts of Hamid and Abdelfattah. In this respect, it relies on the different theories that have tackled the issues generated by cross-cultural encounters in host country settings brought forward by Homi Bhabha, Stuart Hall, Azmi, Schiffaur, J zim, Harles, Barry, Hashmi and Taylor. The crux argument developed with regards to the issues emanating from the cultural encounters taking place in diasporic settings is that background, upbringing and education, and experiences in the host country are all factors that may to a large extent shape the identity of diasporic subject. Changez’ ambivalent feelings toward the United States, Amal’s journey towards a balanced hybrid identity, Gluchin’s sticking to her ancestor’s culture and Hakan’ and Uncle Joe’s mimicry are all instances that emphasize how Muslim diasporic identity formation has become a complex process that surely demands further in-depth study.

Keywords
Diaspora, Identity, Islam, Randa Abdelfattah, Mohsin Hamid, Does my Head Look Big in this, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Mimicry, Hybridity, Ambivalent, Sense of Belonging, Identity Formation.

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