Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
In this dissertation I argue that science fiction as a genre intervenes in the history-oriented discourse of postcolonial Anglophone Indian literature and refocuses attention on the nation’s future—its position in global politics, its shifting religious and social values, its rapid industrialization, the clash between orthodoxy and modernity, and ultimately the dream of a multicultural nation. Anglophone Indian science fiction also indicates India’s movement away from a nation trying to negotiate the stigma of colonialism to a nation emerging as a new world power. Thus, this genre reconstructs the Indian identity not only in the domestic sphere, but also in a global context. Reading these works (e.g. by Amitav Ghosh, Ruchir Joshi, Vandana Singh etc.) alongside postcolonial and science fiction theory, I also explore how these texts theorize the intersection of Western and Indian traditions, as well as indigenism and hybridity. I argue science fiction as a genre enables a synthesis of these clashing tendencies in a new way, which projects Indian futures marked by cultural hybridity and, often, exhibits critical and premonitory qualities. Together with the Indian works I also read a number of Anglo-American science fictions about India (e.g. works by Roger Zelazny and Ian McDonald among others) to examine Western ideas about Indian future and how they differ from the Indian texts. Although some of these works try to understand the complex socio-cultural dynamics of India while writing its future, most of the time they impose the Western stereotypes of the Orient. Because of this still persisting Orientalist attitude, I conclude that Anglophone Indian science fiction is the genre that can best project the Indian future in an authentic manner. It can synthesize both Indian and Western cultural influences in a futuristic scenario, while eschewing the bias that Western science fictions exhibit towards India; and at the same time this genre can break free of the historical burden characterizing such reclamatory effort in realistic postcolonial discourse.
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Banerjee, Suparno, "Other tomorrows: postcoloniality, science fiction and India" (2010). LSU Doctoral Dissertations. 3181.