Liberal Multiculturalism and the Limits of Recognition in Caryl Phillips's The Nature of Blood
AbstractIn recent years, critics of Caryl Phillips’s The Nature of Blood (1997) seem to have developed a consensus that the novel presents a cosmopolitan view of diasporic identity. While I agree with these critics, I believe that their “cosmopolitan theses” have yet to articulate why Phillips chooses to present a cosmopolitan view of diasporic identity. To this end, I shall argue that, in The Nature of Blood, Phillips’s cosmopolitanism emerges as a conscious response to the failure of multiculturalism to recognize what Robin Cohen (2008) calls “victim diasporas” in liberal states. Phillips suggests that, for diasporic groups who have suffered a history of collective trauma, a cosmopolitan view of cultural identity, which draws upon histories of shared experiences and morality across cultures, is far more tenable than an essentialist view of cultural identity.
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