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From Puerto Rican to Turkish Chiquita: Questions of Transnational Identity in Esmeralda Santiago's Turkish Lover
Esra Coker Körpez (Eylül University in Izmir, Turkey) [BIO]
Due to the relative ease of migration and their unique geo-political status, Puerto Ricans unlike other migratory groups did not have to sever their ties with their home country. However, their ability to sustain transnational and transcultural ties due to their unlimited access to U.S. territory, ironically, furthered their feelings of uprootedness, loss, and exile since most of them were associated neither with their island nor mainland culture. The United States, the new loci of socialization became a site of struggle, poverty and racism for the deterritorialized Puerto Rican migrant who juggled to find steady points of reference within their dual yet contrapuntal national identities. The three serial memoirs of the literary acclaimed Puerto-Rican writer Esmeralda Santiago, When I was Puerto Rican (1993), Almost a Woman (1998) and The Turkish Lover (2004), can also be read as self-narrations that voice this problem of transculturation, particularly, for Puerto-Rican women who are caught between the gendered oppression and patriarchal nationalism of their home community and the uncontrollable fast-paced yet liberating culture change of their host country.
As a dark-skinned Puerto-Rican girl transplanted to the urban ghettos of Brooklyn, Esmeralda Santiago, nevertheless, succeeds to achieve one of the greatest awards America can offer – a scholarship to Harvard. Her journey from displacement to homecoming begins as the Puerto-Rican Negi, continues as the selfless lost Chiquita, and finally ends as Esmeralda Santiago, the successful university graduate. This paper by analyzing the junction of space and identity in Santiago’s most recent memoir The Turkish Lover, seeks to disclose the differing conceptual models of selfhood that arise in transnational spaces where western and non-western discourses of subjectivity collide, contest and compete.
Patron: President of Austria, Dr. Heinz Fischer
KCTOS: Knowledge, Creativity and