“But that was before 9/11”: The work of memory in Neesha Meminger’sShine,Coconut Moon
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This essay analyzes Shine, Coconut Moon's (2009) delineation of the post-9/11 resurgence of racial anxieties in the perception of the turbaned Sikh male with the intent of highlighting how the present affects our engagements with unfinished pasts. In directing critical attention to the reactivation of Orientalist frames differentiating between minoritized subjects in post-9/11 United States and the racialization of minoritized subjects as effects of hate violence, the novel reveals how both individuals and groups are unmade and remade in and through such political 'crises'. Contesting the United States' positioning of itself as a hospitable and generous nation that has been infiltrated by terrorists, the novel insists that it is normative whiteness that threatens the civil liberties of immigrants and diasporics of minority backgrounds in the United States. By bearing witness and offering testimonies, the fictional victims of post-9/11 hate violence in Shine, Coconut Moon rupture the notion of 9/11 as a fixed 'event' and urge the American state and the general public to take responsibility for inflicting pain on myriad others. The narrative's call for the recognition and acknowledgement of the pain of diasporic and immigrant subjects offers hope for reimagining community beyond hatreds based on stereotypical divisions between Them and Us.
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