Trauma of displacement: a study of selected contemporary assamese novels

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The present interdisciplinary study seeks to examine the representation of trauma of displacement in some selected Assamese novels from the post-independence era, which is also named as the Modern era in Assamese literary history. First of all this dissertation explores the process of characterization that highlights issues of human displacement victims in contemporary social and political context in each chapter. Then the discussion moves over to the analysis of different literary devices like metaphor, simile etc within the texts and sees how the authors have read the situation in terms of ‘working through’ the trauma of displacement. It also scrutinizes the texts in its representations of ‘geographical’, ‘bodily’, and ‘textual’ space by analyzing the setting of the novels and their role and strategy of coping with the trauma. To achieve this objective Assamese ‘trauma narratives’ have been placed in dialogue with the ‘predominantly western model of trauma theory’. This approach of study is fairly new to Assamese novels that take up the trauma of displacement and historical erasure. But we need to develop our theory of trauma that can explain the culture-specific experience of this region as the PTSD model of trauma theory may not be a very effective one in this respect. It has already been said that the application of trauma theory to Assamese texts may help us develop a definition of trauma which is very much localised and contextualised in experiences. The novelists selected for the present study come together in their creative descriptions of home-sickness and nostalgia, placelessness, displacement, uprootedness and migrancy. The story told in each novel follows a similar pattern of events: the protagonists caught in the complex web of trauma are all offered means of communication that allow them to work-though and, therefore, bear witness to their traumas. The present study is based on the following novels in Assamese: Chenabar Sont by Mamoni Raisom Goswami, Jangam by Debendranath Acharyya, Ejak Manuh Ekhan Aranya by Umakanta Sarma and Makam by Rita Choudhury. The application of trauma theory to Assamese texts may help us develop a definition of trauma which is much localised and contexualised in experiences. Hence the possibility of revisiting some of the established tenets of trauma theory in cross-cultural perspective becomes relevant.
Supervisor: Liza Das