Multiculturalism, Diaspora and the Conundrum of Origin: A Postcolonial Reading of the Politics of Culture in Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire


  • Bushra Naz Assistant Professor, Department of English Literature, IUB Author
  • Zeeshan Safdar PhD Scholar, Department of English Literature, IUB Author


Multiculturalism, Diaspora, ethnic absolutism, differentialist racism, essentialization of diversity


In this article, I argue that Home Fire narrates an encounter between Western multiculturalism and diaspora subject position through the perspective of Isma, a second-generation British national of Pakistani origin. She constantly grapples with the narrative and practice of Western multiculturalism by aligning herself first with native British culture and then with American culture as a means of asserting her identity and survival. Drawing upon Beautell’s (2000) conception of the essentialization of diversity and Sneja Gunew’s notions of ethnic absolutism and differentialist racism (2004), I argue that Isma’s diasporic life depicts Western multiculturalism as a philosophy and practice that highlight differences and mark the identities of diasporic subjects as "other." Isma's struggle to transcend this monological view of national identity and culture portrays her as trapped within an oppressive and despotic order. Building on Vertovec and Wessendorf’s (2010) concept of the "death of multiculturalism," which explains how identities and differences are monopolized, the analysis of the novel reveals the politics of marginalization within the Muslim diaspora. It extends the argument regarding Western fundamentalism and the politics of exclusion through nation-state policies, structural constraints, and social ghettoization. Therefore, I argue about the hostilities Isma faces based on cultural differences and how she resists them by employing methods to reproduce and reshape her identity while navigating the conflicting issues of race, origin, nationality, history, and culture. I further contend that Isma, as part of the Muslim diaspora, ultimately overcomes this political and social rejection by returning to her homeland.


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How to Cite

Bushra Naz, & Zeeshan Safdar. (2022). Multiculturalism, Diaspora and the Conundrum of Origin: A Postcolonial Reading of the Politics of Culture in Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire. University of Chitral Journal of Linguistics and Literature, 6(I), 423-443.

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