At the End of Their Tether: Women Writing about Indenture
Chapter 6 extends the exploration of the poetics of kinship from Chap. 5, considering how such an approach can be used to recognize and move beyond the hierarchies of empire. It examines the cyclical nature of trauma as depicted in two novels by contemporary women writers, Cristina García’s Monkey Hunting and Peggy Mohan’s Jahajin. While Monkey Hunting focuses on Chinese indenture in Cuba and Jahajin explores Indian indenture in Trinidad, both novels weave together narrative strands from different time periods in order to demonstrate the ongoing impact of indenture on generations of a single family and the dangers of a nostalgic approach to the past. Additionally, both novels draw parallels between family dynamics, such as unhappy marriages and parents abandoning their children, and national upheavals, such as revolutions and uprisings. This chapter argues that García and Mohan use these parallels to advocate an active engagement with the past in order to break cycles of trauma on both an individual and a national level. While García depicts the dangers of erasing the past, Mohan primarily warns against romanticizing the past in the form of nostalgia.
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