Local South and the Curse of Origin

Main Article Content

Didier Coste


When “origin,” “where you come from” (what one is unappealably supposed to be by birth) rules and legitimizes one’s behavior and weighs heavily on the course of one’s future, people either have a place or are dis – placed or mis – placed. In this sense, there are only traditional societies, societies based on filiation rather than affiliation.

Beginning with two parallel case studies of recent novels, Sethu’s Aliyah and Peter Carey’s A Long Way from Home, this paper will address the question of “origin” –whether ethnic, religious, or assigned by other collective identity markers – as the one that describes the “Global South” as a collection of minorities.

It will be shown how – whereas in the so – called Global North “origin” is still supposed to be an unquestionable given that coincides with an established locality – both individual and collective identities have become usual objects of doubt, suppression, conflict and resistance in the so – called Global South. In literature and film, these phenomena are manifested in the historicization of the characters’ destinies as well as in narrational and structural features of the narratives concerned, inducing a modernist aesthetics of rupture, innovation and experimental reconfi­guration that owes more to the quest of a striking figuration than to any imitation or influence of Western modernity.

Returning to Tagore’s Gora and Ghare Baire, we can see how, over a century ago, an “Indian” perspective on universalism and belonging can help us redefine the divide that the Global North/Global South rift tries to embody under inappropriately geographical banners in contradiction with the globalization it seeks to denounce. 

Published: Nov 14, 2022

Article Details

Transnationalism and the Languages/Literatures of the Global South: South Asian