UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Im-person-ating identity in spaces of difference Gill, Hartej


Impersonating Identity in Spaces of Difference is an ALTERnative discourse of dis/ruption, decolonization, deconstruction....Writing on the b/orders of theories, disciplines, genres, cultures....this re/search weaves together personal, familial, and societal stories of silence and silencings. By subverting conventional academic texts and hegemonic frameworks of Canadian "MultiCULTural institutions and Canadian "MultiCULTural society," this subaltern re/search claims a space for marginalized voices. Conventional ways of knowing, being, becoming are generatively disRupted in order to create awareness of the continuing legacies of colonialism, modernity, patriarchy...and to highlight the urgent need to provide genuine spaces of "belonging" that inclusively honour and respect the gifts of all individuals. Entangled in the in/visible hierarchical realities of "Canadianness," this in/quiry articulates decolonizing resistance. The layers of the impure academic textual body perform the multiple fragmented intertextual layers of the improper Indocanadian/ Can-indian body creating em(bodi)ed re-imag(e)inings of epistemology and pedagogy. This tense, restless landscape of multi-languages, multi-genres, multimeanings, multi-truths is an inter-Ruption of predetermined b/orders and predetermined bodies of predetermined purity, in a world of ever-changing multiplicity. Drawing on "difference" in multiCULTuralism, language, voice, and identity, this performative work travels in and out of questions of absence, "hybridity," foreignness, loss, displacement, marginalization, patriarchy, colonialism, modernity....In this powerful and liberating form of non-traditional in/quiry, meaning making takes precedence over conventional stylistic or pre-established structures and acknowledges personal "ethnic" experience as a valuable form of reliable "academic" knowledge. This trans-disciplinary, transformative, transcultural...in/quiry disRupts traditional hegemonic narratives and challenges the conventional notions of re/search and writing through its form and content. Through the braided weaving of English, French and Punjabi, personal stories, familial narratives, prose, letters, e-mails, cross cultural conversations, visual imagery, historical documents, "subtexts," "surtexts," intertexts, collaborative texts...undermine and upset hegemonic linguistic norms. Fiction, fantasy, History, herstory, theirstories, memory...are juxtaposed through mixed non-linear genres and codes in protest of violent acts of com(form)ity, exclusion and censorship. Stories of India and Canada find themselves interwoven unexpectedly, betraying the lies and the truths of patriarchy, colonialism, modernity, multiCULTuralism, transCULTuralisms...disrupting clean, linear readings of writing and of research. This experiment with nonstructure and typography attempts to actively decolonize, deconstruct/re-construct imposed academic and social identities in a more meaningful way and provide readers with a sense of living in the "transculturality" of the "diasporic in-between." Only by provoking a critical, cross-cultural "INNERstanding" of History, POWer, systemic marginalization, colonialism and modernity can we begin to relationally take on the collective response-abilty for social justice in policy and practice ~ in the word and in the wor(l)d.

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