This special issue, “Rhizomatic Communities: Myths of Belonging in the Indian Ocean World,” seeks to dismantle the myth of belonging which intrudes in identity constructions and, simultaneously, enhances the in-betweenness that defines a rhizomatic understanding of historical, socio-cultural and national affiliations in the Indian Ocean. The texts we explore here express the need to belong but they also highlight the fact that there is no unilateral sense of belonging. This special issue is formulated upon the theoretical paradigm of the aesthetics of remembering, a theoretical tool that studies postcolonial expressions of selfhood through three axes: empathy, identification and mourning. The recognition of a deep-seated communal self is a key factor in the functionality of our aesthetics of remembering which brings to the fore the rhizomatic nature of Indian Ocean culture. As an alternative to the tree-like construction of knowledge that has defined Western philosophy, the rhizome, as presented by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus, advocates for a planar, horizontal, non-hierarchical model of thinking in continuous expansion. We have proposed an innovative study of contemporary Indian Ocean literature in English that combines former critical appreciations of the area as a porous, flexible and permeable space with our more recent aesthetics of remembering which envisions the space as a rhizomatic community expanding its roots in a trans-oceanic manner. Therefore, we claim that the authors discussed in this volume —2021 Nobel prize winner, Abdulrazak Gurnah, M. G. Vassanji, Nayomi Munaweera, Ronnie Govender, Imraan Coovadia, Lindsey Collen, Amitav Ghosh and Tishani Doshi construct rhizomatic narrations that connect worlds spatially and temporally through acts of empathy and mourning performances.


aesthetics of remembering, belonging, community, Indian Ocean, rhizome, roots

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

The Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) declares Kritika Kultura as a CHED-recognized journal under the Journal Challenge Category of its Journal Incentive Program.

International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)