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“How Do we Survive the Memory of So Much Waiting?”: Reconfiguring Empathy in Dina Nayeri’s The Ungrateful Refugee
Södertörn University, School of Culture and Education, English language.
2023 (English)In: Refugee Genres: Essays on the Culture of Flight and Refuge / [ed] Classon Frangos, Mike; Ghose, Sheila, Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2023, p. 25-43Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This chapter explores Dina Nayeri’s use of life writing in The Ungrateful Refugee (2019) to represent refugees as political, as opposed to humanitarian, subjects. The camp is a leading trope in her narrative of flight and refuge, used to explore literature as a means for problematizing the damaging, hegemonically determined connection between citizenship and gratitude. In recounting her trajectory from child refugee to successful author, she places special emphasis on her time spent in the refugee camp Barba. The camp was a space of despair and interminable waiting, but also one of intimacy and gossip; when reflecting on her former campmates, she understands them as subjects who tried to shape their own stories, however painfully. This view clashes with the humanitarian paradigm that casts refugees as passive victims and demands gratitude, a prerequisite for empathy and aid. In rejecting this paradigm, she tells her life’s story as one of a collective, weaving it in with her fellow refugees’; the community of the camp enabled her to become a storyteller. She undermines the Bildung plot of individual success, and thereby points to modes of narrating refugee subjectivity that do not rely on eliciting the kind of empathy that functions instrumentally to uphold global inequalities.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2023. p. 25-43
National Category
Languages and Literature
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URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-51975DOI: 10.1007/978-3-031-09257-2_2Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85172157410ISBN: 978-3-031-09256-5 (print)ISBN: 978-3-031-09257-2 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:sh-51975DiVA, id: diva2:1782160
Available from: 2023-07-12 Created: 2023-07-12 Last updated: 2023-10-11Bibliographically approved

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Ghose, Sheila

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • harvard-anglia-ruskin-university
  • apa-old-doi-prefix.csl
  • sodertorns-hogskola-harvard.csl
  • sodertorns-hogskola-oxford.csl
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf