Revisiting history and reconstructing new forms of belonging and identity in Kamila Shamsie’s Salt and Saffron

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Shirazi, Quratulain
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As a study of Kamila Shamsie’s Salt and Saffron (2000), this article will explain that this novel revisits the South Asian history while deconstructing the periodisation of the South Asian historiography and its narration in terms of the stories of kings, rulers and ruling dynasties. This narration of the South Asian history highlights the position of those who were ruled but their stories were either lost or were silenced by the dominant political and social narrative. This analysis of Salt and Saffron explains that the nationalist discourse is a gendered phenomenon where women are confined within the boundaries of a private space of home, away from the public sphere of modernity and progress. Therefore, Shamsie uses the transnational feminist perspective in her novel, to critique the oppressive forms of nationalism while narrating the women experiences. The first part of this article will explain that how nation should be reanalysed as an open and enunciative space against different forms of nation-centred narratives including the British imperial and the anti-colonial Pre-Partition nationalist narratives which reinforced themselves by their hegemony over ‘Other’. It will explain how Homi Bhabha points out the fixities in the discourse of nationalism and suggests the narration of more open and inclusive form of nation and nationalism. As Kamila Shamsie identifies the unequal gender positions within the patriarchally controlled home/family and nation, she reconstructs the family/nation as a space of reunion and reconciliation where gender roles are redefined and the family/nation is reimagined as a space of refuge and reconciliation. In doing so, she is revisiting the South Asian history and reconstructing a new Pakistani-transnational feminist identity that is removed from the fixities of patriarchally controlled Pre-colonial, colonial, and Pre-Partition nationalist narratives of identity.
Kamila Shamsie, Salt and Saffron