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Danish Center for Welfare Studies

Migrancy and Utopia: The Global Network in Yamashita’s Tropic of Orange and Hamid’s Exit West

Author: Yazell, B.
Published: Textual Practice, 37(9), 1437-1455. 2023

This paper attends to the utopian imagination circulating in Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West (2017) and Karen Tei Yamashita’s Tropic of Orange (1997). These texts exemplify the formal innovation assigned to migrancy fiction more generally, a genre characterized by its embrace of mobility in content as well as in form. Alongside migrancy novels, utopian fiction both maps and distorts the networks and infrastructures that generate wealth inequality on a global scale. But while previous studies have touched on the utopian implications to migration fiction, this paper elaborates on the affordances of placing these fields into full dialogue. To develop this last point, this paper draws from Mary Louise Pratt’s influential concept of the contact zone in order to acknowledge the different scales of utopian thinking within (and between) Tropic of Orange, which demarcates a specific utopian community, and Exit West, which imagines a global commons. Approaching these texts through the lens of the contact zone helps bring into focus how mundane technologies create inequality today but might be repurposed to radically remake society in the future.

Read the article here.