Re-imagining Transnational Identities in Norma Cantú's Canícula and Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake

Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair(s)

Shane Graham


Shane Graham


Melody Graulich


David Goetze


This thesis examines Norma Cantú's Canícula and Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake from the framework of transnationalism characterized by migration, transculturation, and hybridity. With the application of postcolonial theories, related to identity and space, it identifies the space between different cultural and national borders, as liminal space in which the immigrant characters diverge and intersect, ultimately constituting a form of hybrid and transnational identities. While most immigrant writers still explore the themes of complexities of lifestyles, cultural dislocation, and the conflicts of assimilation, and portray their characters as torn between respecting their family traditions and an Americanized way of life, my reading of these two immigrant writers goes beyond this conventional wisdom about the alienated postcolonial subject. Through a comparative analysis of the major themes in Canícula and The Namesake that center on issues of cultural and national border crossing, this thesis contends that Cantú and Lahiri attempt to construct transnational identities for immigrants, while locating and stabilizing them in the United States. Given the nature of the mobility of people and their cultures across nations, both writers deterritorialize the definite national and cultural identities suggesting that individuals cannot confine themselves within the narrow concept of national and cultural boundaries in this globalized world. A comparison between the transnational identity of the 1950s in Canícula and that of the 1970s through the twenty-first century in The Namesake demonstrates that identities are becoming more transnational and global due to the development of technologies, transportation, and global connections between people. In this regard, this thesis attempts to offer a re-vision of the contemporary United States not as a static and insular territory but a participant in transnational relations.


This work made publicly available electronically on August 2, 2010.

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