May Joseph and Mississippi Masala Essay

1885 Words Nov 9th, 2013 8 Pages
May Joseph and Mississippi Masala
Today’s world is characterized by a global environment of rootlessness. Political upheavals, poverty, and opportunity cause populations to shift and move, and people that are citizens of one country to move to another. The resulting disconnect between the traditions of their homeland that they have internalized, experiencing these as “home,” and the new environment that they move to where the culture is vastly different calls into question what “home” really is, and what citizenship means.
In her book Nomadic Identities: The Performance of Citizenship, May Joseph explores the issues of migrancy and displacement among modern peoples. She contends that citizenship “is not organic but must be acquired
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Before he meets Mina, he has worked long and hard to establish his rug-cleaning business and has become relatively successful. The sense of belonging he has achieved through this success is fragile and fleeting, though, because when he and Mina become involved, their interracial relationship in a small Southern town causes him to lose most of his customers. Mina and her family likewise experience marginalization, both at home in Ugandan where Jay cannot regain possession of his property and in Mississippi, where they are viewed as unsavory outsiders. When Jammubhai comes to talk to Demetrius about the wreck between the car Mina has borrowed and Demetrius’ van, he suggests, “Everyone that isn’t white is colored” and tells Demetrius, “United we stand; divided we fall” (Nair). The suggestion is that anyone who is not white is the victim of racism in America, and it is to their advantage to unite together against their common enemy of racial hatred.
However, just as the characters in the story are multicultural, some of them are also multiracial. Mina, for example, has both Indian and African blood. She tells her mother that she is a “darkie daughter” (Nair). At the same time, she is multilingual. When she and her mother go to the grocery store, her mother addresses her in Hindi, but she replies to her in English. This makes Mina emblematic of the nomadic citizen who has not only lived in multiple

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