The Gastropoetics of The Settler’s Cookbook: Diasporic Trauma and Embodied Narratives
Through the analysis of The settler’s cookbook: A memoir of love, migration and food (Alibhai-Brown 2009), Parmar excavates forms of cultural identity and memory amongst the South Asian East African community in Britain. By scrutinising the dual genre of the cookbook memoir, she first engages autobiography theory, exploring the paradoxical nature of the autobiographical genre. Subsequently, discourses of trauma emerge, in relation to both racism and dislocation. Through an established body of trauma scholarship (Gilmore 2001; Caruth 1995, 1996), as well as recent theoretical redirections that take account of issues of globalisation and postcolonialism (Buelens et al. 2014; Craps 2013), Parmar sheds light on how this trauma manifests itself, and how it can be managed, particularly via the cookbook genre and culinary practices. She argues that we must shape new ways of thinking about diasporic loss. Turning to Alibhai Brown’s one-woman play Nowhere to belong, Parmar nuances her commentary on cultural identity amongst the double diaspora.