The Role of Women (Writers) in the Development of Ethnic Minority Identities
Ana-Maria Petecila (University of Bucharest) [BIO]
This paper will look at women’s important contributions to the development of identity definitions and will try to articulate their part in relationships between ethnic groups, the development of the sense of belonging and the forging of a different culture. I will assess the difference that women and men play in the development of inter-racial and inter-ethnic relations.
I will look at various “modern” pieces of literature, namely The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston, “The Firebird’s Nest” by Salman Rushdie, and The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan and various poems underlining the idea of intercultural exchange. I will do all this through a cultural approach, as well as close text analysis.
The paper will have the following structure: I will first look at transcultural dialogues and the various ways in which they can be achieved, with various examples from literature. Then I will look at the role of the colonizer and see how men traditionally assume it and how women come about it. Although this seems a strange role for them, they live up to it but do not achieve the same results as men. Finally, I will move on to the role of women as translators of culture and see how they manage to combine the traditions from their old cultures with the elements (be they innovations or pieces of tradition) from the new cultures to which they now belong. In the end, I will discuss the way in which literature influences transculturality, definitions of identities, transnationalism and intercultural dialogues. I will bring into discussion the fact that the creators of women literature were women and this takes fiction out of their books and outs it in touch with reality, as the authors become promoters of both transcultural relations and of the importance of women in supporting and carrying forward intercultural dialogues and identity creation in the case of ethnic minorities.