Desiring/desired bodies: Miscegenation and romance in Abdulrazak Gurnah’s Desertion

Esther Pujolràs-Noguer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch

1 Citation (Scopus)


© 2018, © 2018 Taylor & Francis. Miscegenation was one of the leading ambiguities of empire. The intimacy forged in mix-raced relationships menaced empire’s reliance on whiteness as the main civilizing denominator and was, as a consequence, a determining source of imperial anxiety. Written from the postcolonial perspective of Rashid, Gurnah’s Desertion is constructed around the colonial romance between the Englishman Martin Pearce and Rehana Zakariya, which spuriously thwarts the fulfillment of their granddaughter Jamila’s romance with Amin, Rashid’s brother. As a countermeasure against imperial anxiety, the grammar of this interracial romance designs a textual space in which hybridity is the marker of continuity, whiteness is the polluting element, and the female body is licensed to desire. Therefore, in an attempt to disengage Desertion from tokenistic mainstream postcolonial narratives that treat “gender” as an accessory to “race,” this article locates Rehana’s and Jamila’s desired and desiring bodies as a site of both female liberation and female condemnation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)596-608
JournalCritique - Studies in Contemporary Fiction
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2018


  • Desire
  • empire
  • miscegenation
  • race
  • whiteness


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