Reading affective communities in a transnational space in Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies

Binayak Roy


This paper seeks to shed light on the formation of communities in a transnational space in Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies which chronicles the lives of a motley group of people who, after many upheavals, board the Ibis. The Ibis becomes a space where cross- cultural caste, class, gender, and national collaborations blur all sorts of boundaries and enable the formation of new alliances. The ethics of compearance defiantly resists the instruments of power, colonial or otherwise, to orchestrate divisions and exclusions through its politics of immediate conjunction, conjuncture, coalition and collaboration. The paper tries to unravel how the novel presents the emergence of reconstituted families within contexts of domination and resistance. With the erasure of the boundaries of language, class and caste among these migrants, they replaced the notion of authentic, discrete national cultures with a shared openness to the world, espousing a utopian belief in a trans-racial human collectivity. The crisscrossing oceanic trading routes offer an affective map of the world of unlikely kinships and intimacies formed on the fluid world of the ocean as a consequence of the machinations and practices of Empire. The paper argues how the narrative creates a transnational space above the narrow confines of a singular culture, nation, territory and community, a free space (in a world without binaries) which is supposed to be above all temporal or spatial constraints.


Transnation; Compearance Community; Imperialism; Colonization; Diaspora

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