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Lena Karlsson

Lena Karlsson

Head of Department

Lena Karlsson

Multiple Affiliations: Autobiographical Narratives of Displacement by (Im)migrant U.S, Women


  • Lena Karlsson

Summary, in English

Multiple Affiliations explores the autobiographical negotiations of memory and multilocality articulated by five (im)migrant women writers writing from, and being read (primarily) within the US. Texts as diverse as Korean-American Theresa Hak Kyung Cha's Dictée (1982), Polish (Jewish)-American Eva Hoffman's Lost in Translation: Life in a New Language (1989), Chinese-American Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts (1976)and China Men (1980), Caribbean/African-American Audre Lorde's Zami: A New Spelling of My Name (1982), and Pakistani-American Sara Suleri's Meatless Days (1989)highlight how various (cross-race and transnational)experiences of location, disclocation, and relocation resonate with each other and "immigrant America."

Whereas the conventional immigration/assimilation paradigm assumes the resolvability of difference, (im)migration, related to the concept of diaspora, is sensitive to "different differences," related to race, class, gender,etc. Further, (im)migration points to the variability and mobility within the immigrant experience.I use the concept of diaspora, not as a metaphor, but as a lens through which to investigate subjectivities that disturb the assumed union between place, culture and identity. I further employ various exigencies of "locational feminism" to take into account shifting, unstable, postmodern identities and, at the same time, pay attention to historical and material particularities.

Multiple Affiliations shows how "diasporic" dialectics - negotiations of here and there, continuity and change, roots and routes - continually shape (im)migrant subjectivities, even if the possibility of returning to the homeland is precluded and even if the experience of immigration is not firsthand. Acts of imaginative memory are called upon to re-configure diasporic identity by linking the present and the past, here and there, self and ethnic group, and with marked insistence to rewrite history, frequently to trouble national schemes. I propose that, far from inhabiting separate spheres, immigrant and diasporic sensibilities often overlap.

Publishing year




Document type



Skrifter från moderna språk 2, Umeå Universitet


  • Gender Studies


  • autobiography
  • (im)migration
  • United States
  • diaspora
  • locational feminism
  • history
  • memory
  • place
  • home/displacement
  • body
  • postmodern
  • subjectivity




  • Raoul Granqvist

Defence date

5 May 2001

Defence time


Defence place

Hörsal E, humanisthuset, Umeå Universitet


  • Clara Juncker (Professor)