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Abstract

My analysis of Staceyann Chin’s memoir The Other Side of Paradise addresses the notable anxiety in post-colonial scholarship around the construction of binary divisions in representations of the post-colonial subject. Drawing on theorists such as Stuart Hall, Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Ien Ang, and bell hooks, this paper explores Chin’s negotiation of identity throughout her life as a half-Chinese, half-black female growing up in post-colonial Jamaica. Her struggle reflects both the complexities of the multicultural nature of Jamaican society and the aftereffects of colonialism. By disrupting the primary and secondary discourses that surround her youth, Chin succeeds in establishing an authorial voice that challenges essentialised perceptions of the post-colonial woman. Using examples of Chin’s struggle to assert her voice both through oral means and through casual and professional life-writing, my paper explores how Chin consistently constructs an identity that encompasses her multi-dimensional experience of life in post-colonial Jamaica that both questions norms of her own society and the perceptions of those outside of it. This paper further examines Chin’s role as a diasporic writer, its significance in terms of her status as a de-centered national subject, and the unique impact of the symbolic space from which the diasporic writer speaks.

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