Raychaudhuri’s work on South Asian diasporic nostalgia is an invaluable contribution to memory studies that deals with topics as diverse as Brexit, BBC Asian broadcasting, and diasporic literature. Moving from experiences of the everyday – like food – to historical figures, Raychaudhuri offers a sophisticated portrait of nostalgia’s radical potential to transform and challenge the idea of home.
Anindya Raychaudhuri’s theoretic scaffolding of the argument is unique, and promises to open new avenues for reading South Asian diasporic subjects and spaces. The stunning clarity of the argument is highlighted by a contextualized reading of diaspora in a contemporary, heightened, political climate of rising populist nationalism. And, it proves the validity of making such an argument across a range of cultural spaces spanning literature to print, visual, and digital media. Arguing against a well-rehearsed trend in South Asian diaspora studies to signal loss, nostalgia, or anti imperial struggles as inherently conservative, the book proposes a radical idea of progressive presence by re-reading the spatial and experiential vectors of home and not-home. Furthermore, by interrupting the customary practice of locating the analysis outside the “I,” it turns the lens on authorial presence as subjective, and as fully capable of theorizing while experiencing the complexities of being a diasporic herself. This adds an elegant, feminist anthropological element. While focusing mainly on England and Brexit to read diaspora in the 21st century, the book offers literary analyses of diasporic novelists whose characters return fleetingly to homelands while pivoting smoothly to the nativist point of view and the clamoring of nationalists against unwelcome others in the press and on social media. To a lesser degree, the book’s analytical arc also explores Trump’s America and other European nations faced with the reality of global flows of peoples across borders and cultures. The final gesture of nuancing the randomness of immigrant lives located in the crosshairs of ephemeral and agentive, diasporic presence, is, indeed remarkable.