Academic journal article Civilacademy Journal of Social Sciences

Silencing the Other: "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" as a Counter discourse/'Oteki'ni Susturmak: Karsi Bir Soylem Olarak the Reluctant Fundamentalist

Academic journal article Civilacademy Journal of Social Sciences

Silencing the Other: "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" as a Counter discourse/'Oteki'ni Susturmak: Karsi Bir Soylem Olarak the Reluctant Fundamentalist

Article excerpt

Silencing the Other: The Reluctant Fundamentalist as a Counter Discourse

   "Excuse me, sir, but may I be of
   assistance? Ah, I see I have alarmed you.
   Do not be frightened by my beard. I am a
   lover of America..." So speaks the
   mysterious Pakistani at a Lahore cafe as
   the dark settles, seeming to invite the
   reader to sip tea with them as he/she
   reads absorbed in his ironic
   "conversation" with his unnamed
   American guest.

We are living in an era of constant exposure to one-sided discourses in every single phase of our lives through various forms of media. This is such an exposure that on one hand, we unconsciously start to take such discourses for granted even if they actually attack the way we live or believe; and on the other, we produce our own without even being aware of that fact most of the time. One cannot deny the role of mass media or technology in this process.

We walk around with media generated images of the world, using them to construct meaning about political and social issues. The lens through which we receive these images is not neutral but evinces the power and point of view of the political and economic elites who operate and focus it. And the special genius of this system is to make the whole process seem so normal and natural that the very art of social construction is invisible. (Gamson et al. 374)

This is true for all media, both printed and otherwise. Another effect is certainly globalization in a larger sense, which "has had positive consequences with respect to cultural regeneration, communications, decentralization of power, economic efficiency, etc" as well as some negative impacts like "worsening working conditions, increased ecological degradation, widened arbitrary inequalities [...]" in the view of Scholte in Globalization.

Such discourses are more implicit in works of fiction compared to those of non-fiction. All in all, in the midst of a postmodern world when any concrete definition given to any concept has been challenged; any so-called stable civilization or identity starts to erode; and critical debates over new paradigms (like international nations, transcultu-ralism, transnationalism, transgender issues, multilingualism, Western hegemony versus Islamic radicalism, nationalism versus global culture) are so widespread, almost all the works of arts and even science create their own discourse. Such discourses (or anti-discourses) are more apparent in works dealing with some crucial themes of the postmodern world such as the multicultural and postcolo-nial societies, the confrontation of the East and West, contemporary foreign policies/economies. The Reluctant Fundamentalist is such a work by a Pakistani writer Moh-sin Hamid. It is a 2007 novel, an international bestseller, which elaborates quite a controversial issue with a deceptively simple narrative.

The novel claims to provide the reader with a well-oriented account of an Eastern immigrant in the West with all the hardships he goes through. As a Pakistani embracing America, the main character in the book--Changez is depicted undergoing shock and disillusionment as now, in the wake of 9/11, he has to confront 'the drastically changed face of America from an inclusive to an exclusive society'. What is gripping about The Reluctant Fundamentalist for many is that it seems to aim at giving an account of the repercussions of 9/11 through Changez both as an insider (as he feels himself to be) and an outsider. By means of frequent flashbacks, Hamid draws a detailed picture of the overwhelming events in the life of this Pakistani immigrant who is a former Princeton student and a well-paid American employee with a respectable job in New York before, during and after the September 11 attacks. Nevertheless, what makes The Reluctant Fundamentalist seem brave and provocative for some critics is that it reveals Hamid's own attacking view of the West in a smart cover of fiction, rich in irony and intelligence. …

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