A Woman Leaving Twice to Arrive: The Journey as Quest for a Gendered Diasporic Identity in Anne Devlin's after Easter

By Kurdi, Maria | Estudios Irlandeses - Journal of Irish Studies, Annual 2010 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

A Woman Leaving Twice to Arrive: The Journey as Quest for a Gendered Diasporic Identity in Anne Devlin's after Easter


Kurdi, Maria, Estudios Irlandeses - Journal of Irish Studies


Global mobility, a widespread phenomenon of our era, tends to implicate vast numbers of people in large-scale migrations between regions, countries and even continents, making them face the sense of being uprooted and the concomitant need to remould their identity under the new conditions. The crossing of geographical and cultural borders, however, is not necessarily just traumatic without psychological gain or spiritual growth. To quote Ian Chambers, the experience is likely to generate "a form of restless interrogation" (1994: 2) since:

   to come from elsewhere, from 'there' and not
   'here', and hence to be simultaneously 'inside'
   and 'outside' the situation at hand, is to live at the
   intersections of histories and memories,
   experiencing both their preliminary dispersal and
   their subsequent translation into new, more
   extensive, arrangements along emerging routes
   (1994: 6).

The multifaceted interaction between subject and location has become the focal point of a range of social and cultural discourses, conspicuously that of literature. Considering its century-old commitment to the negotiation of and critical engagement with questions of identity and both communal and individual renewal in the theatre, an allegedly heterotopic site of representation, drama can be seen as a genre particularly relevant to staging journeys which lead towards a significant relocation of the self. In her seminal book The Geography of Modern Drama Una Chaudhuri argues that the concept of home is usually structured around the oppositional tropes of "belonging and exile", whose interplay carries ambivalence regarding affiliation and its "incontestability" (1997: 12). Dislocation and homelessness evoke "a new geopathology", she says later, according to which

the exhausted poetics of exile and the defunct heroism of departure are replaced, more somberly but no less successfully, by the anxiety of immigration [...] figured as a search for a new and compelling narrative of self-definition (Chaudhuri, 1997: 175).

Thus in the postmodern era the discourse of 'home' undergoes substantial rewriting and the quest to achieve a viable diasporic identity involves the retelling of stories and the generation of counter-narratives to forge a bridge between self and Other. Instability, as experienced by migrants, tends to inspire the construction of a kind of new stability, whose main feature is that it remains open to further challenges.

The urging relevance of exilic perspectives to the drama and theatre criticism of our time was tellingly demonstrated by the publication of a special issue of the Toronto-based journal Modern Drama in spring 2003. Beginning her introduction to its varied collection of essays Silvija Jestrovic underscores the dynamics of the new situation as well as finds it timely and appropriate to reconfirm a significant aspect of the theatre, namely the Phoenix-like capability of reviving its humanising functions:

   The relationship between theatre and exile is
   perhaps now more complex than ever before. On
   the one hand, modern technology of both art and
   warfare enables a theatricalization and
   fictionalization of destruction, loss, dislocation,
   and trauma; on the other, theatre is still a means of
   transcending the experience of exile, of turning
   trauma into a creative force and turning the no
   man's land between language and cultures into a
   fruitful soil (2003: 1).

Not surprisingly, the implications of global communication have impacted both the choice of subject matter and the ambition to experiment with forms, styles and technique in contemporary world theatre. The most complex treatment of the joint themes of living at the borderland of cultures and responding to the pressures which emerge during the necessary reformation and re-inscription of identity seems to be offered by plays in which the constraints of exilic existence are imbricated with narratives of race, ethnicity, gender or generational tension, and the concerns they evoke.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

A Woman Leaving Twice to Arrive: The Journey as Quest for a Gendered Diasporic Identity in Anne Devlin's after Easter
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?