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Tracing Cultural Amnesia in Sara Suleri’s Meatless Days

Author: 
Halimah Mohamed Ali and Aina Nabila Ahmad
Subject Area: 
Social Sciences and Humanities
Abstract: 

The research on culture most of the time goes hand in hand with the research on literature. This is because literature itself is a very important branch in cultural studies. At a general level culture encompasses way of life, action, way of thinking and behaviour as well as the material and spiritual commodities that a society produces. This paper will discuss a contemporary cultural discourse that is labeled as cultural amnesia. It will be analyzed using Sara Suleri’s memoir titled Meatless Days (1991). The memoir by Sara Suleri is that of an Anglo-Pakistani that has been brought up in the United States of America with two cultures – the American culture and the Muslim-Pakistani culture. She writes her memoir as a diasporic Pakistani woman who lives in exile from her society. She portrays herself as doubly alienated from her society and the Western society that she lives in. Her narrative projects the idea that she has cultural amnesia. This doubly removed diasporic subject does not understand the culture of her father’s motherland - Pakistan since she has been brought up in Yale, New Haven, United States of America. The memoir is quite nostalgic because Suleri tries to trace within her memory the experience of being a “Pakistani” in America, her religious background and the scars of colonialism on Pakistan. This essay will look at the author’s memory crisis of remembering and forgetting in the context of the Indian-Pakistani Diaspora in America. The text will be read by using Andrea Huyssen’s book titled Twilight Memories: Marking Time in a Culture of Amnesia (1995). His concept of time and memory will be used to analyze the memoirs in the context of the past and the present as paradoxes to each other.

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