Mobility, Virality, and Security in Hari Kunzru’s Transmission
Florescu, C. F. & Ma, S-M. (Eds.)
Transnational Narratives in Englishes of Exile
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Globalization, in its utopian configuration, is often touted as the answer to the world’s woes (particularly by its advocates from the West). In that construction, the erasure of boundaries ensures that the flow of goods and labor will ultimately lead to the erasure of difference and the attainment of equality for all (both economic and social). But the dream of globalization, of a world system, is not without its problems. It has become clear that goods are more easily moved than labor, and that human rights are always secondary to economic concerns. In Transmission (2004), Hari Kunzru tackles two principal myths of globalization—that mobility is now a luxury available to all and that utopia will come with the existence of one world culture. Through an exploration of “what lies beneath the rhetoric about seamless networking and open borders,” 1 the novel highlights the resistant social strains that would prevent such homogenization, including calling for national identity cards and ridding nations of unwanted asylum seekers. The result in Kunzru’s satire is “Club Europa”—an attempt to brand Europe as an “exclusive continent.” 2 The novel thus depicts a world in transition, caught between its homogenizing and heterogenizing impulses. And though the contemporary novel is often challenged by the rapidity with which the globalized world evolves and transmutes, it nevertheless finds itself ideally suited to dramatize and illuminate the paradoxes and conflicts inherent in such portentous change. The dialogic qualities of the novel allow for its maintaining different viewpoints in apparent contradiction with each other, while simultaneously demonstrating their inevitable linkage.
Literary criticism, American, General; Literary criticism, American, regional; Literary criticism, popular literature
Comparative Literature | Political History
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Mobility, Virality, and Security in Hari Kunzru’s Transmission. In Florescu, C. F. & Ma, S-M. (Eds.),
Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books.