Cultural Identity and Home in Randa Jarrar’s A Map of Home


As an estranged Egyptian, Palestinian, and Kuwaiti, Randa Jarrar had a tough upbringing. In her novel, the protagonist ‘Nidali’ somewhat reflects her life. Nidali was smart for her age, rebellious, studious, and curious and like any other kid, she longed for a place she can call home forever. Yet, that was complicated due to the recurrent move and the not-so normal life. Like Randa Jarrar, Nidali struggled to keep her cultural identity intact. This paper applies a qualitative data analysis based on textual analysis where it explores Nidali’s sense of difference and rigidity between her cultures and sense of self and constantly being torn apart between her Americaness and Arabness. Is she Arab or American? Is she neither or both? This difference will be examined through Homi Bhabha’s concept of “unhomeliness” in which he believes that the first feeling a newcomer gets when encountering a new culture is the sense of “unhomeliness”. The latter is generated through the change of places and the fact that home or part of it is missing, and this is how Nidali felt when she started having nightmares in the middle of the night. Moreover, Nidali’s experience will be further explored through Edward Relph’s “Place and Placelessness” in which he questions the ‘taken-for-granted nature’ of place and its significance as an unavoidable dimension of human life and experience. Additionally, the complexity of Nidali’s migration experience will be manifested from her identity construction through Erik Erikson’s “identity crisis”.

Author Information
Ichraq Chadli, University of Valladolid, Spain

Paper Information
Conference: BAMC2021
Stream: Cultural Studies

This paper is part of the BAMC2021 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon