British Journal of Canadian Studies

Canadian literature of ‘here’ and ‘elsewhere’: CanLit Balkans

British Journal of Canadian Studies (2013), 26, (2), 253–273.

Abstract

This article examines the use of ‘the Balkan’ as a trope in Michael Ondaatje's In the Skin of a Lion and Anne Michaels's Fugitive Pieces. Whilst speaking to a well-established inventory of ‘the Balkan’ that invokes the region and its peoples in a range of exoticising and demonising metaphors, the texts under consideration also mobilise the Balkan trope in order to interrogate national myths of homogeneity and essentialist notions of identity - issues central to the political and cultural debates taking place in Canada during the 1980s and 1990s when both novels were published. By drawing on the historical, political and cultural affinities between the Balkans and Canada, in terms of their geopolitical liminality, cultural multiplicity and fraught European legacies, Ondaatje and Michaels redefine ‘the Balkan’ as a mediating and enabling site within a multiplicity of fraught contexts, and thus explore the ethical, critical and political possibilities of a transnational literary positionality.

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Bannerji, Himani, 2000, The Dark Side of the Nation: Essays on Multiculturalism, Nationalism and Gender (Toronto: Canadian Scholars' Press). The Dark Side of the Nation: Essays on Multiculturalism, Nationalism and Gender Google Scholar

Bissoondath, Neil, 1994, Selling Illusions: The Cult of Multiculturalism in Canada (Toronto: Penguin). Selling Illusions: The Cult of Multiculturalism in Canada Google Scholar

Brydon, Diana, 2004a [1991], ‘The White Inuit Speaks: Contamination as a Literary Strategy’, in Cynthia Sugars (ed.), Unhomely States: Theorizing English-Canadian Postcolonialism (Peterborough, ON: Broadview), pp. 94-106. Unhomely States: Theorizing English-Canadian Postcolonialism 94 106 Google Scholar

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Brydon, Diana, and Helen Tiffin, 1993, Decolonising Fictions (Sydney: Dangaroo). Decolonising Fictions Google Scholar

Burnet, Jean R. and Howard Palmer, 1988, Coming Canadians: An Introduction to a History of Canada's People (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart). Coming Canadians: An Introduction to a History of Canada's People Google Scholar

Coffey, Donna, 2007, ‘Blood and Soil in Anne Michaels's Fugitive Pieces: The Pastoral in Holocaust Literature’, Modern Fiction Studies, 53.1, 27-49. ‘Blood and Soil in Anne Michaels's Fugitive Pieces: The Pastoral in Holocaust Literature’ Modern Fiction Studies 53 27 49 Google Scholar

Coleman, Daniel, 2006, White Civility: The Literary Project of English Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto Press). White Civility: The Literary Project of English Canada Google Scholar

Cook, Méira, 2000, ‘At the Membrane of Language and Silence: Metaphor and Memory in Fugitive Pieces’, Canadian Literature, 164, 12-33. ‘At the Membrane of Language and Silence: Metaphor and Memory in Fugitive Pieces’ Canadian Literature 164 12 33 Google Scholar

Criglington, Meredith, 2004, ‘The City as a Site of Counter-Memory in Anne Michaels's Fugitive Pieces and Michael Ondaatje's In the Skin of a Lion’, Essays on Canadian Writing, 81, 129-151. ‘The City as a Site of Counter-Memory in Anne Michaels's Fugitive Pieces and Michael Ondaatje's In the Skin of a Lion’ Essays on Canadian Writing 81 129 151 Google Scholar

Driedger, Leo, 1996, Multi-Ethnic Canada: Identities and Inequalities (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Multi-Ethnic Canada: Identities and Inequalities Google Scholar

Duffy, Dennis, 1994, ‘A Wrench in Time: A Sub-Sub-Librarian Looks beneath the Skin of a Lion’, Essays on Canadian Writing, 53, 125-40. ‘A Wrench in Time: A Sub-Sub-Librarian Looks beneath the Skin of a Lion’ Essays on Canadian Writing 53 125 40 Google Scholar

Goldsworthy, Vesna, 1998, Inventing Ruritania: The Imperialism of the Imagination (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press). Inventing Ruritania: The Imperialism of the Imagination Google Scholar

Gubar, Susan, 2002, ‘Dis/Identification: Empathic Identification in Anne Michaels's Fugitive Pieces; Masculinity and Poetry after Auschwitz’, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 28.1, 249-76. ‘Dis/Identification: Empathic Identification in Anne Michaels's Fugitive Pieces; Masculinity and Poetry after Auschwitz’ Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 28 249 76 Google Scholar

Hammond, Andrew, 2007, The Debatable Lands: British and American Representations of the Balkans (Cardiff: University of Wales Press). The Debatable Lands: British and American Representations of the Balkans Google Scholar

Heble, Ajay, 1995, ‘Putting Together Another Family: In the Skin of a Lion, Affiliation, and the Writing of Canadian (Hi)stories’, Essays on Canadian Writing, 56, 236-54. ‘Putting Together Another Family: In the Skin of a Lion, Affiliation, and the Writing of Canadian (Hi)stories’ Essays on Canadian Writing 56 236 54 Google Scholar

Henighan, Stephen, 2002, ‘Writing in Canadian: The Problem of the Novel’, in When Words Deny the World: The Reshaping of Canadian Writing (Erin: Porcupine's Quill), pp. 31-40. When Words Deny the World: The Reshaping of Canadian Writing 31 40 Google Scholar

Huntington, Samuel, 2002, The Clash of Civilisations and the Remaking of World Order (London: Free Press). The Clash of Civilisations and the Remaking of World Order Google Scholar

Hutcheon, Linda, 1988, ‘Ex-centric’, Canadian Literature, 117, 132-5. ‘Ex-centric’ Canadian Literature 117 132 5 Google Scholar

Jelavich, Barbara, 1983, History of the Balkans, 2 vols (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). History of the Balkans 2 Google Scholar

Jewinski, Ed, 1994, Michael Ondaatje: ‘Express Yourself Beautifully’ (Toronto: ECW Press). Michael Ondaatje: ‘Express Yourself Beautifully’ Google Scholar

Kandiyoti, Dalia, 2004, ‘"Our Foothold in Buried Worlds": Place in Holocaust Consciousness and Anne Michaels's Fugitive Pieces’, Contemporary Literature, 45.2, 300-30. ‘"Our Foothold in Buried Worlds": Place in Holocaust Consciousness and Anne Michaels's Fugitive Pieces’ Contemporary Literature 45 300 30 Google Scholar

Lowry, Glen, 2005, ‘The Representation of Race in Ondaatje's In the Skin of a Lion’, in Steven Tötösy de Zepetnek (ed.), Comparative Cultural Studies and Michael Ondaatje's Writing (Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press), pp. 62-72. Comparative Cultural Studies and Michael Ondaatje's Writing 62 72 Google Scholar

Mazower, Mark, 1993, Inside Hitler's Greece: The Experience of Occupation, 1941-44 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press). Inside Hitler's Greece: The Experience of Occupation, 1941-44 Google Scholar

Mazower, Mark, 2000, The Balkans (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson). The Balkans Google Scholar

Michaels, Anne, 1998 [1996], Fugitive Pieces (London: Bloomsbury). Fugitive Pieces Google Scholar

Ondaatje, Michael, 1988 [1987], In the Skin of a Lion (London: Picador). In the Skin of a Lion Google Scholar

Petroff, Lillian, 1995, Sojourners and Settlers: The Macedonian Community in Toronto to 1940 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press). Sojourners and Settlers: The Macedonian Community in Toronto to 1940 Google Scholar

Philip, M. NourbeSe, 1992 [1990], ‘Why Multiculturalism Can't End Racism’, in Frontiers: Selected Essays and Writings on Racism and Culture, 1984-1992 (Stratford, ON: Mercury Press), pp. 181-6. Frontiers: Selected Essays and Writings on Racism and Culture, 1984-1992 181 6 Google Scholar

Porter, John, 1965, The Vertical Mosaic: An Analysis of Social Class and Power in Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto Press). The Vertical Mosaic: An Analysis of Social Class and Power in Canada Google Scholar

Poulton, Hugh, 1995, Who Are the Macedonians? (London: Hurst). Who Are the Macedonians? Google Scholar

Siemerling, Winfried, 2005, ‘Oral History and the Writing of the Other in Ondaatje's In the Skin of a Lion’, in Steven Tötösy de Zepetnek (ed.), Comparative Cultural Studies and Michael Ondaatje's Writing (Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press), pp. 92-103. Comparative Cultural Studies and Michael Ondaatje's Writing 92 103 Google Scholar

Sugars, Cynthia, 2001, ‘Can the Canadian Speak? Lost in Postcolonial Space’, ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature, 32.2, 115-52. ‘Can the Canadian Speak? Lost in Postcolonial Space’ ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature 32 115 52 Google Scholar

Sugars, Cynthia, 2010, ‘Worlding the Postcolonial Nation: Canada's Americas’, in Winfried Siemerling and Sarah Phillips Casteel (eds), Canada and Its Americas: Transnational Navigations (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press), pp. 31-47. Canada and Its Americas: Transnational Navigations 31 47 Google Scholar

Todorova, Maria, 2009, [1997], Imagining the Balkans (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Imagining the Balkans Google Scholar

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Marinkova, Milena

Marinkova, Milena