'New living the old in a new way': home and queer migrations in Audre Lorde’s Zami

Bolaki, S. (2011) 'New living the old in a new way': home and queer migrations in Audre Lorde’s Zami. Textual Practice, 25(4), pp. 779-798. (doi: 10.1080/0950236X.2011.586784)

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Abstract

This essay looks back to an older queer of colour text, Audre Lorde's Zami: A New Spelling of My Name that rethinks narrow formulations of the relation of queer and diasporic subjects to the space of ‘home’ before these debates emerged in queer diasporic criticism. Drawing on critics who have suggested that queer migrations entail remaking rather than leaving home, most notably Anne-Marie Fortier and Gayatri Gopinath, I argue that Zami challenges idealized conceptions of home and belonging without abandoning these concepts altogether. My analysis starts by showing how Lorde, departing from the Anglo-American tradition of the lesbian Bildungsroman, queers the ancestral homeland and the childhood home through a kind of translation that demonstrates the dynamic relationship between ethnicity and sexuality in female queer diasporic narratives. It then turns to the lesbian community as theoretical home and traces the process of ‘making home’ exemplified in Zami. Rather than being a straightforward project, this requires continuously attaching home to, and detaching it from, relationships, communities, and places or, in Lorde's words, living in the ‘house of difference’. In reading Lorde's biomythography through the theoretical lens of queer diaspora, my essay seeks to keep open the text's capacity to speak beyond its historical moment: Zami which has been typically read as a work that serves the ‘convenient’ function of ‘making vivid a Black lesbian's position in the world’ looks forward to theorizations of queer diasporas and offers important insights to questions of home and un/belonging.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Bolaki, Dr Styliani
Authors: Bolaki, S.
Subjects:P Language and Literature > PR English literature
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Journal Name:Textual Practice
ISSN:0950-236X
ISSN (Online):1470-1308

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