"Even as myself, my very own incontrovertible, unexceptional self, I feel I am disguised" : mimicry, masquerade, and the quest for hybridity in the fiction of Salman Rushdie : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in English at Massey University
Salman Rushdie's fiction delineates the author's struggle toward an ideal of hybridity that encompasses both individual and nation. The emblematic figure of the migrant plays a large role in Rushdie's oeuvre, demonstrating the process of translation from one medium to another and the way in which Rushdie's combination of disparate elements leads to heterogeneity. Rushdie uses Bakhtin's discourses of the carnivalesque, the grotesque, and masquerade, and Bhabha's discourse of mimicry to undermine notions of fixity and purity, notions which reify difference and lead to destructive conflict and negation rather than to negotiation and productive change. Focussing on The Satanic Verses, but also using material from Midnight's Children Shame, and The Moor's last Sigh, the thesis applies the theoretical work of Mikhail Bakhtin and Homi Bhabha to the fiction of Salman Rushdie in order to show the possibilities for resistance and the production of new subjectivities. The discourses Rushdie uses have traditionally called into question issues of power and are all ambiguous, able to be used by those in possession of power to reinforce their positions, as well as by oppressed people to undermine that power. The discourses demonstrate these ambiguities particularly when used in situations of colonialism and racism, undermining divisions between colonizer and colonized and between races at the same time they reinforce those divisions. Rushdie focuses on setting up and then undermining binary oppositions, moving toward a liminal space of hybridity where terms in opposition merge into something new.