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Sara Upstone

Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, Volume 28, Numbers 1 and
2, 2007, pp. 260-284 (Article)
DOI: 10.1353/fro.2007.0036

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Domesticity in Magical-Realist
Postcolonial Fiction
Reversals of Representation in Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children

sara upstone

Anne McClintock’s assertion that “imperialism cannot be understood without a theory of domestic space” illustrates contemporary critical awareness
that colonialism cannot be considered only in terms of “public” structures,
such as the nation or city, but must also be debated in terms of its construction through the private lives of both colonizer and colonized.1 Against the
anthropological tradition’s repetition of the patriarchal division of public and
private spheres—treating the house as a “self-contained world,” the globe split
between an inside of emotional dialogues and an outside of political negotiations, “intimacy and exposure, of private life and public space”—colonial discourse analysis focuses frequently on the home as a site of power contestation.2
“[C]onnected to, and perhaps stemming from, the principles of spatiality,” as
Bill Ashcroft has noted, “. . . the idea of enclosure, or property, has dominated
colonizers’ views of place.”3 Postcolonial critics connect the home to political
struggle: “a site of resistance” with “a radical political dimension.”4 Not only
does such a home distance itself from representations in geography, spatial
theory, and conventional anthropology, it is at the same time distinguished
from colonial representations of the home.
In this paper, my focus is on the postcolonial novel and how this novel’s
representation of domestic space, reflecting the concerns outlined above,
addresses the preexisting relationship between domesticity and colonialism.
I use Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children as a fiction indicative of postcolonial authors’ engagement with issues of domestic space and its colonial implications.5 Combining close reading of Rushdie’s text and more overarching
theoretical discussion, I want to suggest that at the center of the postcolonial
novel’s focus on the home is the desire to unravel and undermine processes
central to the colonial home, asking for the idea of “home” to be examined not
metaphorically, as I will suggest is key to the colonial home, but, instead, literally. In such a distinction are two opposing representations of domestic space:
260  frontiers/2007/vol. 28, nos. 1 & 2

the dwelling of the postcolonial novel.8 In this reading of colonial domestic discourse. At the center of the postcolonial literary treatment of domesticity. at the height of colonialism. through a reading of the home’s personal spaces. even increased use of particular household items is intimately entwined with colonial expansion. in fact embodies the subversion of colonial order. saw it take a central place in political and literary discourse. in the postcolonial novel.’ ‘wardrobes’ and ‘cravats’ appear to stand for British rule in India. colonial and postcolonial domesticity In colonial discourse. I will suggest that it is the domestic space that. acquisition of territory and its association with violence are replaced with the establishment of home. therefore. what McClintock calls “the mass marketing of empire as an organized system of images and attitudes”: Both the cult of domesticity and the new imperialism found in soap an exemplary mediating form. and the home as a force of colonization. Throughout the paper. which has value). meaning the house never really represented what it was but rather acted metaphorically for the colonial project itself—an exemplification of Homi Bhabha’s argument that the nation is maintained by metaphorical and metonymic strategies. The emergent middle class values—monogamy (“clean” sex. Finally. for whom domestic imagery was a crucial factor in encouraging support for action against Indian mutiny where “the domestic images of ‘houses. is a reversal of representation. not only for colonial discourse. In the dwelling of the postcolonial novel.”7 The home becomes a microcosm of the colony. in which the home is no longer presented in denial of its political status to construct a colonial ideal but is instead explicitly political. this latter metaphorical “colonial home” is an unspoken intertext. Christianity (“being washed in the blood of the lamb”). class control (“cleansing the great unwashed”) and the imperial civilizing mission (“washing and clothing the savage”)—could all be marvelously embodied in a single household commodity. but also for associated concepts of colonial and postcolonial gender politics. industrial capital (“clean” money. the home can be seen as a structure both prominent and overlooked: prominent because of ideological investment in the home in both fiction and nonfiction that. I will suggest the implications that this reversal has.6 Such function is supported by Alison Blunt. overlooked precisely because of the motivation behind this prevalence. which has value). and— rather than violence—an association with the natural and timeless processes Upstone: Domesticity in Magical-Realist Postcolonial Fiction   261 .

it was nevertheless—indeed perhaps even more so because of this—a powerful force. . the colonial nation’s discourse of naturalness is propagated. Importantly. however. nos. 28. both boundaries naturalized by documents—architectural plans or national maps. “domestic space .” The spatialized hierarchies of the colonial home seem to enforce such suggestion. denying the colonial exploitation and tension inherent in colonial settlement. is all part of the fiction. the political role of the home—though ever-present—is obscured. became a theater for exhibiting the Victorian cult of domesticity that needed constant and scrupulous policing. mapped as a hierarchy of specialized and distinct boundaries. . This has been exposed in the writing of Sigmund Freud. the domestic space is not exempt from this control. was a microcosm for the wealth of empire and its maintenance as “the Victorian middle-class home became a space for the display of imperial spectacle . whose discussion of “The Uncanny” (“Das Unheimliche”) captures that what is “homely” is always “unhomely.14 That it is 262  frontiers/2007/vol. while the colonies . Such an ideal. a necessary protection against less predictable social and economic changes. already “fluid spaces. for whom nineteenth-century metropolitan homes were.” in the same way that the colony is divided into territories. A harmonious ideal is invoked. . in all its grandeur. both divisions are heavily enforced. the home followed Victorian trends in domestic practice. K.” The explosion of “uncanny” events both frightening and disturbing are a result of the repression of turmoil in the service of a desire to present a vision of natural order. At least in English colonies and neocolonial America. and well-kept dwellings serve to maintain the colony’s order on the scale of the individual family.”12 Here what happens inside homes plays its part: orderly.”11 Domestic order. clean.13 Not only was the colony described in household terms.”9 Using the home to stand for the colony. because they are to be used in a specific way [. . J. . Noyes offers an account of the fluid spaces underlying colonial settlement and the stratification of these spaces through imperial discourses. Observation of indigenous citizens’ homes by their employers and indoctrination into normalized domestic practices through a discourse of moral concern was commonplace: “the dwellings are to be constructed in a specific way. but the household.of settlement. In keeping with this.10 This is further emphasized in the work of Sharon Marcus. and one inherently tied to colonies. . as “the values and behaviour inculcated in the home were considered crucial to the formation and maintenance of national identity. to enable] a strategy of surveillance and classification. . was rigorously enforced in the colonies themselves. as Antoinette Burton emphasizes. Nineteenth-century domesticity may have been an illusion but. 1 & 2 . . In his study of colonial space in German South-West Africa. despite seemingly solid boundaries.

In addition to Midnight’s Children. Such re-visioning. high and hard and stone. “the violence. Africa. In constructing a transgeographic discourse. The home’s spiral staircase interrogates linearity and order with the promise that “you can’t see more than a step and a half in front.16 This second process is inextricably connected to the first: it is in altering the mode of representation that diversity is reinstilled in the house structure. many postcolonial texts might be cited as engaging this strategy. Joe (a troubled local Maori man). the socially isolated central character Kerewin reflects her isolation in the home she builds for herself: a linear tower. “a prison” that leaves her “encompassed by a wall.”19 Yet even in this imprisoning structure. giving the home its own identity where it must no longer conform to ideals of order tied to colonial ideology. Kerewin builds a very different sort of Upstone: Domesticity in Magical-Realist Postcolonial Fiction   263 . the tower is destroyed and. Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things. a reinvestment of the home with chaos: an awareness of the perpetuation of colonial models in the house stemming from factors such as servitude and slavery.15 I want to suggest that the order and metaphorical function of this home is radically called into question by postcolonial literary representations. a reclamation of the home from colonial metaphor to maintain the “house as house. the United States. one might draw upon Keri Hulme’s The Bone People. such as nation or colony. the short stories of Pauline Melville. contexts that cover the Caribbean. “ rather than seeing it as being in the service of something larger. It is a space of control. for example. entails a two-fold strategy: first.” In the wake of the transformation fostered by the alliance between Kerewin.only with the later eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that we find “housing alterations expressing privacy and class differentiation” as standard practice suggests strong connections between domestic hierarchies and colonial division. Ben Okri’s Famished Road Trilogy. or the novels of Toni Morrison as examples of texts that reconfigure the domestic space as a site of chaotic disorder—each within its own unique postcolonial context. I would argue. and Simon (his equally troubled foster son). at the novel’s conclusion. for Kerewin admits she builds it because she likes “to be able to do most things for myself.”18 Such a home is a literal manifestation of her marginal position—as an independent woman but also as a mixed-race individual whose whiteness alienates her from the Maori culture she longs to be a part of. and second. Wilson Harris’s Da Silva da Silva’s Cultivated Wilderness and Genesis of the Clowns.17 In Hulme’s The Bone People. there is the possibility of an alternative for Kerewin. a space that denies community. terror and difference that is repressed in everyday securing of a home” for many postcolonial citizens. and Australasia—as well as reaffirming the connection to Indian postcolonial literature.

however. I want to argue. What unites such texts. No flowers.home. its “neat lawn bordered by concrete paths. the new spiral home Kerewin builds embodies community. .21 The spirals that for Kerewin “wind and flow together. what results is a new-found postcolonial domestic confidence. like eddies of smoke. eddies of water . a newborn commonwealth.” become the center of the new building. For while the daemon who visits da Silva at the end of the novel suggests “I’m never quite sure where home is. . is their engagement with one particular form of representation: the magical-realist. that precede it. as my discussion of both Hulme and 264  frontiers/2007/vol. . rejecting any sense of a “back home” to end the novel with the capitalized reassertion “Home. . Transforming the domestic space into an artist’s studio.22 Similarly. a colonial home in London’s Holland Park is re-visioned by its immigrant owner.”20 The spiral is no longer overwritten by order in the way that Kerewin’s own cultural identity has been obscured. “a comedy of empire. 28. 1 & 2 .” the protagonist is always sure of his. did you think I could build a square house? So the round shell house holds them all in its spiralling embrace. Sparsely furnished.” The fluid space that is created draws in the postcolonial landscape: the floor “shone like water. it is a space of inclusiveness and of positive disorder: Sunflowers and seashells and logarithmic spirals (said Kerewin). Instead. it is pushed to the forefront and celebrated. No shrubs . challenging the violence.” resonating with the coastal regions of Guyana and the rivers of Brazil. . Noise and riot. joys more than sorrow. . the house may become a space of resistance. I use it here strategically to suggest how particular strategies that extend beyond conventional realism imbue the home with an active presence that offers particular opportunity for subversion of colonial models. This home will provide an alternative not only to her own fixed structure but to the equally austere home of Joe and Simon. Against the isolation of the tower. sweep of galaxies and the singing curve of the universe (said Kerewin). A term itself that is subject to overuse and debate surrounding its relevance. a dying empire. Opened up as an explicitly political space by an acknowledgement of its trauma. At the novel’s conclusion. beyond their postcolonial status. what the central character da Silva paints is a refusal to deny the home’s political status. make more sense than crosses. typical older State house. the oscillating wave thrumming in the nothingness of every atom’s heart (said Kerewin). all is music in this sphere. in Harris’s Da Silva da Silva’s Cultivated Wilderness. . adds a third term to the process I have outlined above.”23 Despite its acknowledged hierarchies. For magical-realism. and the social and racial exclusion. peace and quiet. nos. the home is a space of hope.

This distinction between realist and magical-realist strategy may be illuminated by the commentary on the home provided by R. George in The Politics of Home. that the metaphor—the word is derived from a verb meaning ‘to carry over’—seeks to overcome. the magical-realist novel refuses both colonial and national metaphors as George indicates. Freed from the limits of both colonial and national metaphor. yet also draws upon transformative strategies that facilitate a new form of resistance. The usage supports Nathaniel Mackey’s discussion of imagery in relation to Wilson Harris: “Such recourse to metaphor betrays an estrangement. rather all metaphor is grappling for the unspeakable and lost. a distance.”26 as well as the way in which “the text functions on an axis that is simultaneously metaphoric and metonymic. but rather to reveal inconsistencies and the fact that the discourse of order is both inherently false and—from a postcolonial point of view—immensely damaging. in relation to Morrison’s Beloved “we recognize the implied author’s privileging of metaphor and metonym over black dialect. For George. Against this. so the house breaks free of the colony. The two spaces are seemingly unconUpstone: Domesticity in Magical-Realist Postcolonial Fiction   265 . in failing to do so. they become depoliticized spaces that George sees as lacking what she views as the “conventionally postcolonial” quality of resistance. Equally.Harris above evidences. Metaphorical associations continually attempt to bridge this gap and yet. This is not to suggest that magical-realist texts avoid allegorical elements. revealing its independence because it can never be fully attributed to the larger structure. they are often steeped in them.24 Yet in resisting this burden. as the small and the large are interrelated. The metaphor of the home as colony is no longer the mirage of a perfect colonial construction. The use of metaphor is then a ‘confession of weakness. Yet the intimate connection means they are in fact metonymic. However. Saleem’s “destinies indissolubly chained to those of my country” (9). M. contemporary realist Indian novelists offer representations of domesticity that challenge the earlier use of domesticity as national allegory.”25 In such usage there is always a recognized gap between the house and the colony. to be carried across. only draw into clearer relief a representational chasm. the home is open to diverse meanings encompassing the fluid and subversive. here metaphor is used not to serve order or an ideal.” without distinction between the two tropes. for example. even interchangeable. I want to suggest. where the greatest home is the “noble mansion of free India” (118). Even as house and colony are brought together.27 This recognition seems to be true of representation of houses more than elsewhere: Beloved’s central location of 124 Bluestone Road may be read as metaphor for the slave ship. Homes in Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children. appear to function metaphorically as microcosms of the nation. indeed.’ the recognition of a chasm one wishes to cross.

. placing women at the heart of the imperial project. nos.30 gender One result of the division and idealization of colonial domesticity was an explicitly gendered space. it is a space of postcolonial resistance because it is instead a site of hope and awakening—not closed down into order. prejudices.29 The home is not only a space of postcolonial resistance because it is reclaimed from its colonial service. because there is in fact an explicit connection between the house’s meaning and the slave community.” Such metaphor no longer serves to uphold ideals or discourses of power.” as that which “helped to formulate the ordered space we now recognize as the household. where open domestic space is “in need of spatial and narrative closure. The “idealized domesticity .nected. 28. and limitations”—counters the colonial metaphor of a universal ideal. .” so the house also fulfils the Oxford English Dictionary definition of metonymy as “a figure of speech which consists in substituting for the name of a thing the name of an attribute of it or something closely related. of the Victorian era” not only constructed gender roles.”28 This use of metonym defines what might also be referred to as “postcolonial metaphor.”33 As males are responsible for maintaining political and public order—to overwrite chaos—so females are responsible for echoing this in the home and providing refuge from the perceived turmoil of the mar266  frontiers/2007/vol. but instead dissolves them. but opened up to marvelous possibility. 1 & 2 . fulfilling the Oxford English Dictionary definition of metaphor as “the figure of speech in which a name or descriptive term is transferred to some object different from . . As “the implied history of the house covers the same time-span as Beloved’s ancestral memories.” the postcolonial magical-realist novel’s disordering of this space may be seen to hold the same potential now: a force not only reflecting the status quo but also offering pathways towards new experience. it connects to that which is always fragmentary and provisional and—because metonymy (in contrast to the colonial metaphor) “is context bound and therefore exposes specific cultural values.31 it did so partly to serve colonial needs: A woman must be maintained inside the home as a “devout maiden” and “industrious housewife. Following Nancy Armstrong’s argument that nineteenth-century fiction’s representation of domesticity not only reflected social forces but also had a role “in modern history. The power of this contamination of the colonial vision should not be underestimated.” because through it she had her own role in the imperializing of space. . Yet it is also metonymic.32 Nineteenthcentury fiction and conduct books emphasize both this gendered division of space and the desire to order it. that to which it is properly applicable” (emphasis added).

a bed. as the colonizer battles with territorial expansion. a woman herself could be trapped by. The gender implications of the colonial home do not affect women only.36 In her determination to order domestic space.” and to “buy and keep cows” because of poor local standards of herdraising. postcolonial fiction seems Upstone: Domesticity in Magical-Realist Postcolonial Fiction   267 .34 Firmly establishing the metaphorical connection. gave advice on how to be a good English “hostess” in India in the late nineteenth century. so his wife engages in her own struggle against unfamiliar domestic conditions. in the colonies “competent home management was part of a wife’s ‘civilising mission’”.ket place. whether that subversion would ultimately lead to a concomitant dissolution of domestic patriarchy or. the perpetuation of such space. Wright was vehement on the division of the household from the external world: “Things you must never. even a reinforcement of patriarchy in a new nationalist form. an act of anticolonial resistance. as much as complicit in. an author of several such manuals at the fin de siècle. Notably. and. however.” The power centered on the home gives women a significant status in how colonialism is challenged. What is significant about these approaches. the split between public and private space is corrupted. and the fluid boundaries established by postcolonial fiction instead offer the opportunity for women’s lives to be actively connected to the outside world. more significantly. the influence of colonialism is felt by all the home’s inhabitants. the home becomes tied to colonial power relations and the subversion of these interests is a shared aim. moreover. so maintaining this home against colonial infiltration could be.”37 Yet as the feminist desire to see women freed from the confines of domesticity supports. Temple-Wright. R. even when patriarchy physically confines them to the “inside. moreover. but also its female inhabitants. the successful home was to be seen as a contribution to empire. they reject the continued assumption even in today’s academic climate that control of the home affects men only indirectly through its impact on the public sphere. For the colonial wife. What I want to suggest is that. under any circumstances. part of the postcolonial novel’s subversion of the colonial ideal of domesticity is a coterminous subversion of the patriarchal connotations of that ideal. She instructed her reader “never to eat Bazaar bread. Politicized.” to buy pots from “any large European shop. allow in your kitchen are—a hookah. and the personal apparel of the cook and his mate. For all. The home interrogates the identity not only of the colonized.35 Such practice is evident in the domestic manuals read by Englishwomen in India. for the colonized wife. in its repoliticization of the home. is that they reject the assumption that domesticity is wholly the sphere of women and. while emphasizing nationalist patriarchy. ironically.” to improve the nation “through the improvement of the nation’s homes.

to indicate ultimately that the former result is one shared by both female and male indigenous challenges to colonial domestic discourse. In all its forms. “my novel Midnight’s Children was really born. magical realism is crucial to Rushdie’s engagement with the domestic space: the dwellings Rushdie provides seem to reflect traditional nostalgic construction. nos. Recalling a faded black-and-white photograph of his childhood home in Bombay. For. 28.” Rushdie clearly identifies the domestic structure as central to the novel’s construction. reversing the overwriting The choice of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children to exemplify this process is motivated by the author’s engagement with the colonial role of the home throughout the novel. though I would argue they share this overarching approach. The ways in which postcolonial authors use magical realism to engage with such issues are complex and varied. Rushdie recounts how the photograph motivated him to return to its subject and that. More than for perhaps any other author. but they are quickly imbued with a fantastic life that complicates such connections. which provides clear examples of the strategies I have outlined. In his essay “Imaginary Homelands. with this recollection. this effort would quickly become an acknowledgment “that we will not be capable of reclaiming precisely that 268  frontiers/2007/vol.” while his project may have begun as an attempt to recreate the past. a reversal of the latter is also a reversal of the former. seem to act as simple metaphors for the nation. it may be seen as a powerful component in the postcolonial novel’s use of domesticity as an anti-imperial setting. with obvious differences of emphasis and degree. however. 1 & 2 . as Rushdie outlines in “Imaginary Homelands. as an example.”38 The home becomes the motivation for Rushdie to attempt reclamation of his past from the dislocations of colonial history and migration. With patriarchy indissolubly linked to the colonial project. remaking and re-visioning the home—re-instilling its political status as a challenge to the colonial discourse of domesticity—largely takes precedence over representing the complexities of gender relations outside the colonial dynamic. While gender differences are indicated. I shall now discuss. how a single text by one author—Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie—offers one specific way into the complexities of postcolonial literary reversals of colonial domesticity. such a shift in representation—away from the service of colonial discourse—means that the home’s chaos and hierarchies are no longer overwritten with a space of harmony and order. This may be at odds with analyses that emphasize a nationalist patriarchy with equally restrictive gender politics centered upon the home.

is itself a denial of the colonial project to create an apolitical domesticity and an exposure of the colonial overwriting of the politicization of the domestic space. Rushdie’s homes are immersed in the chaos that colonial discourse of the home overwrites. continued by remembering his mother as the woman for whom moving home means waking up to believe the sun had “come up in the wrong place” (65). The situation of home as private space is central. They are spaces of “violent disorder” with Upstone: Domesticity in Magical-Realist Postcolonial Fiction   269 . The importance of domestic space in the novel is centered on Saleem’s declaration to be “remaking my life” to be no longer “public property” (10. most notably Padma. Rushdie situates Saleem’s search for meaning within the context of a fantastic and unreliable narration that reveals the artificiality of idealized imagined spaces and. who longs to create a typical family unit with Saleem and is characterized as the stereotypical simple.40 This is reinforced by the conventional roles played by female domestics in the novel. private location. beginning his story with the parallel remembrance of a man. Rushdie’s use of the home seems conventional rather than subversive. providing resonances at the same time with the Indian patriarchal institution of similar ideals. the impossibility of creating this perfect metaphorical function in denial of the home’s infiltration by political concerns. . Saleem’s endless search for meaning. Indeed. Yet in terms of the model of postcolonial domestic space I have outlined. In this sense.” Rushdie seemingly repeats the colonial construction of home as politically detached and hermetically sealed. who after “five springs. who brought me my dinner and then withheld it” (31). away from home . Saleem Sinai. continually attempting to woo Saleem through her exhibition of her domestic qualities such as food preparation. 77).thing that was lost”39—a metaphor of fallibility and failure that resonates with Mackey’s discussion of Harris. the house of Saleem’s grandparents in Agra. the way it was before travel and tussocks and army tanks messed everything up” (11). Rushdie’s narrator and protagonist. every remembrance around which the novel revolves seemingly begins with a domestic structure: Ghani’s house. Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children is centered on the remembrance of domestic structures as a flawed corrective to the loss and instability of colonial dislocation. indeed. would try and recall his childhood springs in Paradise. his grandfather. Maintaining the sense of home as “the only haven from the trials of a heartless economic world. In such a way. even as it appears to repeat the gender roles and divisions of public and private space at the center of this construction. his reflection of the colonial need to order domestic spaces and their histories. . home-oriented woman. all framed by the comic domestic machinations of “Padma. offering Saleem the possibility of reconstructing a stable.

most notably Gayatri Spivak’s famous comments on the silencing of Indian women by colonial. the postcolonial novel’s critique often subsumes 270  frontiers/2007/vol. Rushdie reflects upon the connections between domesticity and colonial patriarchy. to rule her chosen domain. (Perhaps. the sense of walking a tightrope across a precipice that is made clear by Rushdie through his linguistic subversion: “the domestic rules she established were a system of self-defence . nationalist. as a “sphere unpolluted by foreign rule. Ironically often self-enforced because of this nationalist turn. there is awareness of exclusions and divisions. 28. is ironically the feature transformed from comfort to trauma. establishing order in the home in an effort to protect it from colonial influence. a reflection that resonates with discussions of Indian feminism. . For Reverend Mother the security of the home is so hyperbolic that it becomes imprisonment. “an invisible fortress of her own making. leaving her.41 In particular. Thus Rushdie problematizes the simple construction of patriarchy as colonial and the challenging of colonialism as naturally a challenge to patriarchal values. and intellectual representations of them.)” (40–41). its provision of assuredness in the wake of anxiety. have a way of leaking into each other” (38). Rushdie represents the particular effect of these exclusions on women in a way that directly calls into question those critical approaches that accuse Rushdie of misogyny. it wasn’t a system of self-defence at all.42 Reflecting readings of Indian nationalism as a discourse that echoes the colonial. The sense of familiarity that the home provides.” Rushdie shows how. rather than security. As water rushes into the home when “there were towels wedged against the doors and windows of the house” (59) because “things . . social realities invading in a way that even the narrator’s recreation cannot prevent. the home may become a prison. so what are in colonial discourse impermeable walls between inside and outside are disrupted. homes with “repeatedly-slammed doors” (250). and Toxy Catrack waits at “a barred top-floor window” because of mental illness (130). the seclusion of women marks at once a challenge to Western influence and a reinforcement of patriarchal domesticity in a transference of values resonant with wider nationalist concerns. the often ignored Padma is consigned to sitting in the narrator’s “enchanted shadows” (121). Rather than an idealized space of safety. and the continuance of these connections in nationalist ideology. but a means of defence against her self. . . for his female characters.“gloomy spidery corridors” that often suggest. as I have indicated. Amina is “immobilized in a room in a tower” (101). too.” complete with the colonially resonant “traditions and certainties” (40). unnamed threats (21. Yet. 1 & 2 . nos. Mumtaz “saw very little in those days of the father whom she loved” because of her marriage to a fugitive (59). 22). like a smug spider.

in his discussion of male bodies. They hurled multilingual abuse at him from their windows” because he was a Hindu (73). “his grandfather’s house containing “the low outhouse rented cheaply to the family of old Hamard and his son Rashid the rickshaw boy” (49). not only for indigenous female inhabitants but also for indigenous males. on white and brown alike” (180). in Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things. but to the female. indigenous males were relegated further to a contradictory but equally damaging stereotype that impinged upon their domestic role: the enlargement of the stereotype of the “animal prowess of the black male” into a larger discourse. creating the male indigenous anxiety that would demand a reassertion of domestic ordering by the colonized male to counter coterminously both emasculation and the sense of the indigenous threat to domestic ideals. which means that these conflicts.45 Midnight’s Children thus presents a unified experience of oppression that reflects this complex interaction.” where imperial discourse on corporeality is simply replaced with an equally “hegemonic image” necessitated by the identity crisis caused by the colonial domestication and demonization of male indigenous bodies.44 This dual subjection cannot be ignored. but rather is an acknowledgment of the negative effect of these models. There is also a strong religious element to such differentiation. and the magician’s ghetto of “higgledy shacks” (386).43 At the same time. but rather Upstone: Domesticity in Magical-Realist Postcolonial Fiction   271 . For all. in which indigenous males of all races were frequently cast as rapists who defiled the bodies of white women and threatened the domestic as a site of privacy and female purity. as well as women. so Saleem is clearly aware of his own privilege. the home is exposed as part of neocolonial social inequalities.” with the result that colonized men. too. rather than as a haven from them. where “the brutalizing effect of servant status” is defined by “a servants’ room behind a blackstove kitchen” (144). are represented on the domestic scale—where Muslims “dropped garbage on his house from their rooftops. for it may itself be seen as essential to the continuance of colonial models. Such awareness reflects McClintock’s argument that “the English middle-class male was placed at the pinnacle of evolutionary hierarchy. the new “ugly concrete blocks” where “we looked down on them all. As Tai lives in “the insanitary bowels of the old wooden-house quarter” (14). Equally. were classed as inferior and subjugated into domestic space—their physiognomy compared not to white males. racism against crosscultural relationships is not escaped from in the Ayemenem House. This is not to deny the nationalist continuance of colonial patriarchal models of domesticity. in which the domestic is for both male and female—in unique ways—a site of power contestation.gender interests into a more general concern with the colonial influence on home life. terms the construction of the “national body. This is what Bill Ashcroft.

It is a space that will never be private: “to forsake privacy and be sucked into the annihilating whirlpool of the multitudes. control. Personified in Major Zulfikar. Rushdie constructs a postcolonial metaphor that raises explicitly the realization of the colonial metaphor’s fallibility. red gabled roofs and turret towers in each corner” (94). too” (96). an “empire in miniature” that comes to represent the perpetuation of imperialism after independence. Vellya Paapen goes to the back entrance because “Pappachi would not allow Paravans into the house. . 1 & 2 .” denied belonging as she reminds them that they live in the house “on sufferance . overwriting of identity through language as the houses are named after “the palaces of Europe” (95). In the novel’s last words we find the hopelessness of such invasion. conqueror’s houses . where the home at times comes to stand for the colony. where they really had no right to be”. In its bleakness. “transferring power. 28. . in such representation. Baby Kochamma proclaims Estha and Rahel “Half-Hindu Hybrids whom no self-respecting Syrian Christian would ever marry. . Methwold’s “little game” (95) of selling the houses “complete with every last thing in them” (95) marks the continued dominance of colonial ideas of domesticity. . 99). postcolonial re-visioning: home as space I want particularly to suggest that. . and to be unable to live or die in peace” (463). While rejection of the colonial ideal may be one element of the postcolonial writing 272  frontiers/2007/vol. and deny is evident. nos. but doing so in such a way that his patterns become part of Saleem’s own family “talking budgies[. entering “with a force of fifteen men” to expose Nadir (62). it is central that postcolonial fiction does not represent the home only as a space of trauma. the narrative must find value in the home outside the colonial ideal—not in place of its political significance but precisely because of it. Instead.] . . the classic colonial utilization of openness only to tabulate. but also the reality of the home.”46 At the center of this politicization is the awareness that colonial infiltration of the home cannot be denied. Nowhere is it clearer than in Methwold’s sale of his home to the Sinai family. only to make such a connection self-consciously constructed and to signal a need for the return to a home qua home. Nobody would. geometry and symmetry in “four identical houses .magnified.47 Methwold’s estate is a perfect example of the colonial ordering of territory on a domestic level. imitation Oxford drawls” further illustrate the colonial influence on nationalist principles with consequences for the construction and valuing of home (98. . as the colonial ideal of domesticity and all that it would obscure gradually fades into the distance and the home’s political status is made explicit. .

53 Such subversion is undoubtedly temporary. like the Ayemenem House. official form—with history. Like Toni Morrison’s slave-ship house in Beloved. unable to retrace their steps because their footprints had been swept away” by colonial assimilation that has made them “adore our conquerors and despise ourselves. suggests a limited impact. where the ideal itself is a political force in the service of a colonial image. but what is neglected is the positive potential of the invasion of politics into the home. it is. at times. home comes to serve other purposes undermining discourses of power. where organized power in the form of the police force uses both neocolonial authority and patriarchal male physical strength. the History House extends beyond both its physical and temporal boundaries to encapsulate far more significance in terms of memory and history than its limited structure seemingly allows. the home’s reflection of wider political concerns is often noted. that Velutha and Ammu find “some of the most precious moments of their togetherness”: the link between caste development and increased control over sexual relations. this is not its whole. For the postcolonial writing of the domestic is not interested simply in negation but rather. and the novel’s ending.”49 The manifold meanings repressed in the colonial writing of homes are now released. negotiation. further entrenched because it is bought by an international hotel chain.”51 It is also iconic of India’s communal conflicts.50 On the one hand. What is important here is that the politicization of the home should not obscure its positive potential but must instead be seen as intimately connected to it. for example.of home. a space that signifies oppression. And yet the way in which various characters interact with the house and the use to which it is put suggest an interruption of its official status. so present in the Ayemenem House. it is in counterpoint to another home at the center of the novel: the History House. it is explicitly imperial. While the Ayemenem House offers one model. replacing History—the capitalized. And yet the fact that such an interruption does take place Upstone: Domesticity in Magical-Realist Postcolonial Fiction   273 . in defiance of its official connotations. a direct confrontation with the values it represents. no longer forced to serve as colonial metaphor. In a world where the inhabitants of Ayemenem House are “trapped outside their own history[. .52 As Simon Barnabas notes. in which the house returns to its negative signification. in Bhabha’s terms. In readings of Roy’s The God of Small Things. it is outside the History House. . a “symbol of colonial authority. and.48 This is its site of subversion: where politicization of the home is not only a negative factor prompting lament for a lost ideal but also the potential for new interruptions.] . and where chaos may be productive as “what is perceived as a ‘disorderly’ house by a visitor is not necessarily perceived as such by the inhabitant.” reclaiming the History House means reclaiming fragments of that lost past. unravels in this alternative domestic space.

thus Aadam Aziz’s mother “had suddenly found enormous strength and gone out to run the small gemstone business . but reclaimed so that its politics can be turned around and used decisively in the service of the postcolonial cause rather than of its colonial predecessor. nos. What is needed is a habitation that forms the first step in a movement toward more fluid spaces. . I would argue. their concept of deterritorialization—signifying removal of fixed boundaries and the renewal of the abstract—offers opportunity to make the home into a space we can politically “defamiliarize. particularly with gender. 1 & 2 .” where the status of the home as contested space leaves it “capable of being mastered” through various activities—“Ornamentation. Rushdie does not reject domestic chaos but rather seizes it as a window to magical awakenings. It is because of this process. and housework. however limited. Such multiplicity is prevented from evolving into postmodern free play. . that the home in the postcolonial novel explicitly becomes a space where negotiations of power are played out and where critique of colonialism is clearly possible. This may appear at odds with the postcolonial literary endeavor to create fluidity that I have outlined earlier.”56 The house is not rejected for its complexity. Most significantly. neuroticized territorialities. first. . yet it is also the necessary first step towards such liberty.”54 Such positive deterritorialization is a useful way to envisage the effect of antimetaphoric strategies: removing the codes and patterns signifying conventional domestic space. In the service of this reclamation of the domestic space. what I will refer to as.suggests the hope of further disruptions and asserts the power of individuals to change their circumstances. Enacting deterritorializations or reversals. Enacting appropriations. . Rushdie may be seen to engage two distinct strategies.” where fluid structures are outside the colonial influence and capable of resistance. 28. maintenance. where “the flows . houses of possibility full of “potential mothers and possible fathers” (51). for deterritorialization may contain a “reterritorialization.”55 This first step of reterritorialization may also be seen in terms of what Perla Korosec-Serfaty designates “appropriation. and second. where the abstract that postcolonial critics such as Ashcroft so suspect ultimately becomes a discourse of freedom.57 The undercurrent to this deterritorialization and appropriation is always the opportunity for reappraisal of postcolonial interactions. . his imprisoned women reverse their status to become the home’s most powerful figures 274  frontiers/2007/vol. we re-inhabit a world of our making. while his father sat hidden behind the veil” (12). have not been reduced to . Rushdie removes the female from the center of the home. domestic deterritorialization. domestic appropriation. . favoring instead the turmoil and tensions that the colonial ideal obscures. Although Deleuze and Guattari do not discuss the home explicitly.

of course. its description also continually marks resistance to imperialism. Rushdie’s women instead appropriate the space and use their assigned role to their advantage. “imperiously” should not obscure the fact that this act is a dual questioning of both colonial patriarchy and its Indian nationalist extension. For when containment is combined with this chaotic setting it may be turned to serve radical ideals rather than the conservative colonial ideal of domesticity. through the no longer denied political status of this location. There is a particular colonial connotation here. and by cleaning. a complex interweaving of secret spaces undermining the projected simplicity of colonial architectural construction. While the 1947 house may reflect colonialism. she continued to rule” (41). a space where the domestic is used to gain a sense of empowerment so that “at the dinner table. The assertion that “this is still India” (100) indicates possibility for appropriation. it is also her “inalienable territory” (41) at a time when perhaps. Here the postcolonial form of narration enacts a crucial intervention: Rushdie’s fragmented. in common with the association of appropriation with housework. enacted by the Brass Monkey. imperially”— denotes that it is Reverend Mother’s own personal appropriation of colonial rule. the domestic becomes a site of resistance to colonial rule. In politicizing the domestic space away from its idealized status in colonial discourse.and. moving to its core as they overwhelm the boundaries delimited for them. Although such interaction with the home clearly has gendered connotations—most notably in the use of women’s domestic work as appropriation. which. “supreme or absolute rule. key players in any negotiations of power. Upstone: Domesticity in Magical-Realist Postcolonial Fiction   275 . chaotic presentation is not the mark of the migrant’s trauma alone but coterminously an effective deterritorialization of the colonial totalization of space. and in the questioning of Indian nationalist patriarchy—Midnight’s Children shows evidence here of the wider engagement with domesticity offered by the postcolonial magical-realist novel. so that Methwold and his empire pass simultaneously with its British parallel. Women seem almost magically to take their place at the center of the narrative. according to the Oxford English Dictionary. where use of “imperiously”—meaning. it is the only territory available. imperiously. In situations where women cannot simply reject their role in the home. whose burning of shoes and items “broken accidentally-on-purpose” (151) obliterates with disorder the last remnants of the mirage of colonial domestic order. Nadir Khan’s concealment “under my family’s rugs” (48) acts against the establishment because “things seemed permissible underground that would seem absurd or even wrong in the clear light of day” (56). in terms of both patriarchy and colonial rule. means “his successors emptied his palaces of their abandoned contents” (128). And. Although Reverend Mother is imprisoned in the home.

discharge.”58 Such a strategy is the ultimate confusion of public and private. covering. my discussion has focused on the home in its entirety. even more obscured than the house proper itself. enclosure. Marcus makes exactly such a point in her deconstruction of the nineteenth-century novel when she explains that “interiorization cannot be sustained because the very activities and attributes associated with perfect interiorization—containment. to a Bombay bathroom. as a general structure linked intrinsically to the world outside. life inside life. But I would like to address. excess. with all its infinite possibilities. nos.”62 Rewriting the political as personal foregrounds the fact that there are some spaces the establishment cannot enter. . drawers. It is in these pockets that dreams of changing the outside flourish: the neglected by the establishment—and therefore protected—spaces of the domestic interior. ultimately. repression. is the most significant subversion of the home as an imperializing social structure. 28. though its influence is always found within them: spaces where resistance operates for the individual.” so that “total internalization collapses in on itself. Enter through an undecided doorway to an undecided room. escape. by way of final comment. Midnight’s Children immediately foregrounds the positive importance of the spaces within the home in an opening chapter that introduces us to “an 276  frontiers/2007/vol. it is a space of its deconstruction. and it is here that you find the real power of the postcolonial house.” which are the secret spaces. and overflow. its fantastic qualities are related to what lies outside . sequestration—produce diametrically opposite effects of explosion. closets. chests. the miniscule spaces where resistance is ultimately and most securely held.” the most private “boxes. to a heavily described white washing-chest of slatted wood. the importance of the spaces within the home. 1 & 2 . . silence.”61 The implied action here is at the center of repoliticizing the home from its colonial ideal.59 It is not the small discussed here but what Frances Armstrong has referred to as miniaturization that enriches “by condensation. The postcolonial domestic is not a space of the complete structure. Focus on these spaces forms the final stage of the postcolonial literary treatment of domestic space and. . . for the most private of spaces—the spaces of the house that visitors never enter—paradoxically become the most contested sites: “sub-units of interior space” where “cultural values are thus embedded. but rather that which “has the capability to make its context remarkable.inside as outside To this point. wrapping.” magnifying meaning and power by creating a “magical condensed domain. its turning around and inside out: the fact that the house may be seen as “simultaneously huge and tidy .”60 This is not an isolated miniature.

that typifies the domestic structure. was excised” (439)—the filling of such spaces is an act of resistance. for domesticity. . particularly within an Indian magical-realist context: not only Arundhati Roy’s well-known repetition of the pickles motif but also Vikram Chandra’s use of magical ladoos in Red Earth and Pouring Rain and the magical kababs of Vijay Singh’s Whirlpool of Shadows. and they drained us of more than that: hope. which itself leads to a “gemstone-crusted silver spittoon” (58) that itself will also later be placed within the same tin trunk. a metaphor for the creative act of filling empty spaces. connected to my nocturnal scribblings . contained within the home of the frame story itself: the factory-home that is both public and private space. The transformation within the pickle jars is. . .empty pickle jar . in a Marquezstyle dénouement. Most magical of these spaces are the pickle jars that allow “chutnification of history” (459). “chutneys and kasaundies . so each of these remembrances leads to an even smaller and more personal contained space. the house on Cornwallis Road leads to a cellar. pepper pots that are used to plan military coups. an “open-sesame” (456) that “carried them back into the world of my past” (210).63 So. a home that holds both the history of India and. In the wake of colonial appropriation of other personal spaces—“testicles were removed from sacs. too. . . what is the result of this deferral to the small? Certainly. of incongruous significance and capacity. . an “old brass spittoon” (44) that is a “lost receptacle of memories” (449). the same transformation from negative to positive space. Such an act typifies the two stages of postcolonial treatment of the domestic that I have Upstone: Domesticity in Magical-Realist Postcolonial Fiction   277 . . Indeed. . . These spaces. getting ever smaller yet more significant. on a smaller physical scale. like Russian nesting dolls. characterized as open both to the narrator’s privileging of them and to multiple meanings—Saleem’s surprise when going to the trunk to find “it had not been locked in the first place” (31)—repeat the refusal of ideal identification that the postcolonial home in its generality refuses. These jars are the novel itself. Its power is such that it has been taken up by several postcolonial authors. Saleem’s own story. dreams” (461) that remain. such personal spaces reinforce the sense of possibility within the domestic structure as a whole: the way that “one jar stands empty” (460) must be seen as hope as well as the novel’s resignation. an old tin trunk” (19). . and wombs vanished for ever . and a renewal of optimism. so that Saleem may write “above present and past” (194). just as each section of the novel begins with a remembrance of a house. Spaces are layered. witness to the “questions .” which itself leads to “this leather bag inside this trunk” (31) in which are contained the perforated sheet of the novel’s opening. the great work of preserving” (38). so that Saleem’s grandparents’ house in Agra leads to “an old trunk.

they represent the fact that there are always other scales. my ugliness” (154). The power of such a secure space is not simply to remove personal anxiety but also public danger: the tumult of society that is. Sites of personal meaning are stripped of ideal status and made explicitly political. . “Nautilids!” another. it is suggested. Nowhere is this space of shelter seen more clearly. rejecting headings. for a time. are absent” (153). . nos. the significance of these spaces. it is a mark of the possibility latent in Kerewin’s life—obscure and only to be revealed with the disruption offered by Simon’s entry into her life. a place which civilization has put outside itself. There are no headings. a site for personal expression and defiance may be located. and names challenges colonial scientific and Enlightenment authority with an alternative means of expression. however. . “Hinatore” says one.” itself contained within Kerewin’s tower. is that even when resistance may seem impossible. offer continued hope: The pages are mainly blank. Thus. By juxtaposing Latin and Maori.engaged with throughout this paper. dates. 1 & 2 . day names. a central part of Kerewin’s survival is a logbook that contains a multitude of different expressive forms but also empty spaces that.] . ultimately. Some days a solitary word. Even within the most oppressive domestic structure. in political crisis: “A washing-chest is a hole in the world.64 As for Rushdie. than in Saleem’s reminiscence of the sanctuary of the bathroom that refuses the colonial idealization of domestic space: where you can be anything because it is at times an “unclean” space that demands none of the usual deference to domestic cleanliness or purity (160). dates. even if it permeates the rest of the house. In the washing-chest in the bathroom of Buckingham Villa. other spaces. In The Bone People. they are re-instilled with positive possibility. like the jars. the logbook is full of concoctions of influences. beyond the pale . a place that violence and cruelty. . where survival can occur. Such a level of intimacy creates a true sacred space from the secular. I could forget. Hulme destabilizes the primacy of colonial use of language as definition. And. She has filled in some pages at random with doodles and sequences of hatching. safe from all 278  frontiers/2007/vol. . as a result of this process. . rather than a unified meaning. because there are 1000 pages. “servants are excluded[. 28. Small precise drawings and linked haiku. leading Saleem to the powerful proclamation: “Banned from washing-chests: cries of ‘Pinocchio! Cucumber-nose! Goo-face!’ Concealed in my hiding-place. can never enter. such a logbook is a space within space: contained on the bottom shelf of a “grog cupboard. too. I was safe . Like the spiral staircase. under transition from empire to freedom. school buses.65 Like Saleem’s jars.

the public space is a colonial battleground. No longer simply a female space. the space is implicitly politicized against the colonial ideal. Saleem’s masculinity is not an issue in this use of the home. paradoxically a “pause in movement”. in which what matters is the possibility outside of an official history that has been revealed to bear only limited truth. Even though gender distinctions clearly still exist. this is absence as positivity: a silence of the currents of time passing and of political change. I would suggest. this may raise questions about the continued silencing of women’s perspectives as conUpstone: Domesticity in Magical-Realist Postcolonial Fiction   279 . is itself a radical statement in terms of gender that goes beyond a simplistic suggestion of nationalist collusion in colonial patriarchy. the house becomes the outside. Indeed his mother. Acting as “a mirror of the nation” (255). Undoubtedly. finally and definitively removing it from the grasp of colonial and national ideologies. suggesting a gender-transcendent relationship to small personal spaces. finds similar sanctuary in the bathroom. Because the basket takes on a more homely significance than the actual dwelling. When Saleem enters the bathroom or produces the pickle jars. men too. Again. extending into its most personal—and perhaps most stereotypically female—spaces. As abstract space. the deterritorialization that leads to the appropriation before the further deterritorialization of leaving the home behind. a “pause. In such a reversal. the public. This. he enacts a politicization and privileging of the domestic that calls into question the gendered division of public and private space. may find the personal a site of significance. This is confirmed by the fact that it is the bathroom and its basket that are the location of Saleem’s awakening—his transformation into an “untuned radio” (163) for the children of midnight—and a chance at democracy. Saleem’s appropriation of the bathroom occurs at no expense to the home’s female inhabitants.pressures. the home is through colonialism reconfigured as a universal site of political resistance. denying the colonial implication of indigenous male destruction of domestic ideals. nevertheless. And though the relationship between colonialism and patriarchy doubly disenfranchises women in this public sphere. Rushdie suggests here. Regardless of gender. Equally. it seems that colonialism radically reconfigures the gender politics of the home. the fact that the bathroom is also a site of powerful anticolonial action in its role as the site of Saleem’s psychic connection to the Midnight’s Children challenges the emasculation of indigenous males by making domesticity central to rather than at the peripheries of resistance. its status as a breach in the normal spatial order gives it a capacity far beyond its linear measurements. they are superseded by a united challenge to colonial rule enacted through the home. concealed from the demands of parents and history” (156).”66 a gasp for breath that facilitates survival. Amina. For instead.67 A new kind of domestic politics emerges in such a space. a stillness. when colonized.

both echoing and challenging its prejudices because it is intensely involved in their construction. the postcolonial home reverses the colonial ideal. 17. as well as colonial. Renewed by chaos and possibility. In their reversals and inversions—their replacement of depoliticized order with politicized chaos. Unlike the ideal home. Anne McClintock. the assumptions and stereotypes on which such a home was so evidently based. and is not hindered by. And. Amina. and. both intensely political and capable of offering the potential for subversion. and instead within magical space. as the deterritorializing and appropriating actions of Reverend Mother. 28.cerns with patriarchy give way to concerns with the colonial. flowing and leaking. Apartment Stories: City and Home in Nineteenth-Century Paris 280  frontiers/2007/vol. Its layers and complexity—the very nature of its confusion—make it a space of important protection: outside the linear narrative of history and all that represents in colonial and patriarchal terms. discourse. 1 & 2 . Imperial Leather: Race. a new vision of the home emerges. Radically re-visioning the role of men within the home and the role’s significance. as Midnight’s Children proves. with it. the re-visioning of home as an important site of anticolonialism. layering and invasion. indeed. The space that results is. Yet.68 Invaded by public space. the gendered mixing and disruption of public and private offered by this may itself be the most powerful subversion of patriarchal. the inversion of large and small scales so that the home itself ultimately becomes the public of a smaller structure—Rushdie engages a magical-realist mode of representation that allows domestic space to transcend the colonial model.” the postcolonial home is always in tension with this outside. Nevertheless. 2. The architecture of this new home refuses to succumb to norms and ideals. 1995). Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest (New York: Routledge. Through motifs of movement and fluidity. their own domestic status only benefits from. in which “[t]he outside has no more meaning. Sharon Marcus. it is impossible to see how nationalist patriarchy might go unchallenged. the home’s gender politics is foregrounded. conclusion What Rushdie does with domestic space is indicative of a wider treatment of the home in postcolonial magical-realist fiction. politicization creates the home as a site of resistance for all its postcolonial inhabitants. regardless of gender. and the Brass Monkey prove. notes 1. at the same time. nos.

and London (Berkeley: University of California Press. Yearning: Race.” Journal of Historical Geography 26. 10. Place and Family in Europe. The “Uncanny. 107. 4. 1977). Tar Baby (New York: Knopf. 1992). Pauline Melville. 12. 208. Apartment Stories. 291–94. 3 (2000): 406. 1982). Rinehart & Winston. Yi Fu Tuan. The Bone People (1985) (London: Picador. All subsequent references to this work are cited parenthetically within the text. ed. 8. 1999). Beloved (New York: Knopf. 1970). At the Heart of Empire: Indians and the Colonial Encounter in Late-Victorian Britain (Berkeley: University of California Press. Songs of Enchantment (London: Jonathan Cape. Shape-shifter (London: The Women’s Press. Bhabha. 7. introduction to Domestic Space: Reading the Nineteenth-Century Interior. Homi Bhabha (London: Routledge. Arundhati Roy. Da Silva da Silva’s Cultivated Wilderness and Genesis of the Clowns (London: Faber. Homi K. 162. George. Toni Morrison. 1987). James Strachey (London: Vintage. R. 34. Bill Ashcroft. 5. Birdwell-Pheasant and LawrenceZuniga (Oxford: Berg.” in Nation and Narration. Imperial Leather. 1981). Alix Strachey. Post-Colonial Transformation (London: Routledge. 15. 2001). Sigmund Freud. McClintock. McClintock. ed. Gender and Cultural Politics (Boston: South End. J. The Bluest Eye (New York: Holt. 2. 27. 1992). 1986). 1996). 1973). 13. 1999). 1990). Keri Hulme. The Politics of Home: Postcolonial Relocations and TwentiethCentury Fiction (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Salman Rushdie. Song of Solomon (New York: Knopf. 2001). 3. “Embodying War: British Women and Domestic Defilement in the Indian ‘Mutiny. 1. Okri’s trilogy consists of The Famished Road (1991) (London: Vintage. 6. 1990). ed. 1999). 14. 168. 1977). M. bell hooks. 1992). 1999). K. introduction to House Life: Space. Marcus. 2003) Upstone: Domesticity in Magical-Realist Postcolonial Fiction   281 . 16. 41–42. Antoinette Burton. 3. Sula (New York: Knopf. 274. no. 10. 1998). 17. Volume XVII (1917–1919): An Infantile Neurosis and Other Works. Imperial Leather. 1993) and Infinite Riches (London: Orion. Noyes.’ 1857–8. Colonial Space: Spatiality in the Discourse of German South West Africa 1884–1915 (Chur: Harwood. reprinted in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. Narrative and the Margins of the Modern Nation. 1998). Bryden and Floyd (Manchester: Manchester University Press. Jazz (New York: Knopf. 9. Donna and Denise Lawrence-Zuniga. and Love (New York: Knopf. Paradise (New York: Knopf. The God of Small Things (1997) (Flamingo-Harper Collins.” trans. Alison Blunt. Donna Birdwell-Pheasant. 217–52. Wilson Harris. 1998). Inga Bryden and Janet Floyd. 11. ed. Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience (London: Edward Arnold. 1977). 1990). “DissemiNation: Time. Midnight’s Children (1981) (London: Picador. 209.

Marcus. Ibid. 442–3. 76. ed. 65. 19. Domestic Allegories of Political Desire: The Black Heroine’s Text at the Turn of the Century (New York: Oxford University Press. Harris. 35. History and Motherhood in Toni Morrison’s Beloved. A. C. and Experimental Writing (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 34. Desire and Domestic Fiction. 38. 22. 32. 37..” African American Review 26. 27. The most well-known of such critiques is Inderpal Grewal’s discussion of Shame “Salman Rushdie: Marginality. 273.. and The Moor’s Last Sigh (see pp. Wright. no. 1992). or Multivocal Remembrances of Things Past. Bernard W. Carol Schmudde. Desire and Domestic Fiction. 1 & 2 . 42. Janice N. but also in Midnight’s Children. 1998) criticizes the representation of women not only in Shame. Jonathan White (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Salman Rushdie. 28. 24–48. 5. 31.3 (1992): 411 (my emphasis). Baker and Cook. Cross-Culturality. 1993). Brownfoot. 7. “Imaginary Homelands. 53. no. Bell. Armstrong. 202. The Bone People. 61. Ibid. 23–24 (emphasis added). This position is reinforced by D. 29. 52. 8. 9. 176. 5. Desire and Domestic Fiction. 28. 43. Hulme. Temple Wright. 26. 33. 21. “Imaginary Homelands. 7. Hilary Callan and Shirley Ardener (London: Croom Helm. M. R. Keenan. “Four Hundred Years of Silence. Da Silva da Silva’s Cultivated Wilderness. 1996). 20. Nancy Armstrong. Nathaniel Mackey.” in Recasting the World: Writing after Colonialism. The Politics of Home: Postcolonial Relocations and TwentiethCentury Fiction (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Rushdie. 32.” (1982) in Imaginary Homelands (London: Granta.” African American Review 26.1 (1992): 11. 8.. Claudia Tate. 41. 1984). 67. 36. 40. 195. Armstrong. Goonetilleke who in Salman Rushdie (Hampshire: Macmillan. See also Armstrong.. Sally Keenan. 88 and 136).” 61. R. 107. “‘Four Hundred Years of Silence’: Myth. 1912). 59. 30. 1991). Apartment Stories. nos.” in The Incorporated Wife. “Memsahibs in Colonial Malaya: A Study of European Wives in a British Colony and Protectorate 1900–1940. 7. 25. R. (Calcutta: Thacker.” 10. Ibid.” Genders 3 (Fall 1998). “Beloved: A Womanist Neo-Slave Narrative. 141. 77. Desire and Domestic Fiction. Baker and Cook—A Domestic Manual for India (1896). 1987). “The Haunting of 124.18. Ibid. Women and Shame. 1993). 39.. Spink and Co. 24. 41. Discrepant Engagement: Dissonance. 23. Grimus. George. Armstrong. ed. 3rd ed. Desire and Domestic Fiction: A Political History of the Novel (New York: Oxford University Press. The position 282  frontiers/2007/vol.

Ronald Segal. 46. Irwin Altman and Carol M. 53. 54. Caren Kaplan.” in The Body in the Library. 1997). Werner (New York: Plenum. This is a recurrent theme in Spivak’s work: see. 54–55. “Embodying War. Jim Pines and Paul Willemen (London: British Film Institute.” Commonwealth Essays and Studies. McClintock. 56. who defends Rushdie against earlier criticism but nevertheless argues that “his narratives undermine their own (proto)feminist strains by regressing (perhaps because of a concurrent anxiety about effeminization/emasculation) into reification of stereotypes of gender and sexuality” (18). ed. 1989). Hall. for example. and also Jo-Ann Wallace.1 (1997): 42. 1999). 82. 1985). 59. Roy. K. 209. xvii. 1984). K. A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a History of the Vanishing Present (Cambridge. “‘A Class Apart’: Josephine Butler and Regulated Prostitution in British India. Bill Ashcroft. Lane (London: Athlone. “Can the Subaltern Speak. “The Commitment to Theory. 47. See Blunt. Mark Seem. 52. ed. 48.on The Satanic Verses in relation to this issue is divided: Goonetilleke sees it as marking a new appreciation of female characters. The Black Diaspora: Five Centuries of the Black Experience Outside Africa (New York: Noonday. “Constructing the Post-Colonial Male Body. See Homi K. Simon G.” 74. Imperial Leather.” in The Body in the Library. 45. The God of Small Things.” in Critical Essays on Salman Rushdie. Toni Morrison. 55. 52. R. 1998). 1998). Robert Hurley. introduction to Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia.” 407–8. Korosec-Serfaty. Dhawan (New Dehli: Prestige. 223. 78. Keith Booker (New York: G. 1888–1893.” in Questions of Third Cinema. 1999). The Politics of Home. 1993). 53. no. which includes a revised version of her seminal essay. The God of Small Things. 6. Upstone: Domesticity in Magical-Realist Postcolonial Fiction   283 . George. Tirthankar Chanda. by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. 1995). 82. “Experience and Use of the Dwelling. The most considered response in these terms is perhaps that of Ambreen Hai in “‘Marching in From the Peripheries’: Rushdie’s Feminized Artistry and Ambivalent Feminism. 73. Beloved (1987) (London: Vintage. ed. “Sexual/Textual Strategies in The God of Small Things. 1999). Perla Korosec-Serfaty. 42. 44. “Deterritorializations: The Rewriting of Home and Exile in Western Feminist Discourse. Leigh Dale and Simon Ryan (Amsterdam: Rodopi. Barnabas. Bhabha. ed.” in Arundhati Roy: The Novelist Extraordinary.” Cultural Critique 6 (1987): 195. 51. 117. and Helen R.” in Home Environments. but this is contradicted by Gayatri Spivak’s comments in Outside the Teaching Machine (New York: Routledge. trans. ed. Mark Seem. 49. 210. Roy. 75. 20. 45. her recent work. “Experience and Use of the Dwelling. Leigh Dale and Simon Ryan (Amsterdam: Rodopi. MA: Harvard University Press.” 43. 50. “Ayemenem and the Ayemenem House: A Study of the Setting of The God of Small Things. 299. ed. 16–49.

trans. the Gigantic. Space and Place.57. On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature. Tuan. Hulme. nos. 60. Oliver Marc. 62. See Korosec-Serfaty. against his previous point. “Gender and Miniaturization: Games of Littleness in Nineteenth-Century Fiction. 65. 1992). no. no. it is surprising that he does not recognize the limits of his spatial classifications. 180. 1993). 85. 64. The Bone People. 4 (1990): 405.” 78. Apartment Stories. 28. Vijay Singh. The Poetics of Space (1964). Susan Stewart. “Experience and Use of the Dwelling. We need to make space. 54. “Experience and Use of the Dwelling. the Collection (1984) (Durham: Duke University Press.” Contributions to Indian Sociology. Frances Armstrong. 59. Maria Jolas (Boston: Beacon. Gaston Bachelard. Korosec-Serfaty. 68. 58. Marcus. as well as to inhabit and make place. 67. 66. 2000). 21. in which he argues. “Domestic Space as Ideology in Goa. India. 413. the Souvenir. Ibid. Psychology of the House. Jessie Wood (London: Thames and Hudson. Vikram Chandra. Considering that Ashcroft follows his chapter on habitation with one on horizontality. 1 & 2 . 1977). 2001). Post-Colonial Transformation (London: Routledge. 284  frontiers/2007/vol. trans. 138. 198. 36. Whirlpool of Shadows (London: Jonathan Cape. Red Earth and Pouring Rain (1995) (London: Faber.” English Studies in Canada. 2 (1987): 308. 205). 23–24. Caroline Ifeka. 61. 63. 1994).” 71. 46. Bill Ashcroft. 36. that habitation is “a process of outwardness” (p.