Unravelling compulsory happiness in exile: Cristina Peri Rossi’s The Ship of Fools
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Tanna, N. (2018). Unravelling compulsory happiness in exile: Cristina Peri Rossi’s The Ship of Fools. Feminist Theory, 146470011877214-146470011877214. https://doi.org/10.1177/1464700118772140
A number of feminist critics of Latin American women writers in exile have suggested that women in exile may flourish as they are freed from the traditional gender restrictions imposed on them in their home countries. In this article I reexamine the association of exile with liberation through analysing Cristina Peri Rossi’s 1984 novel La nave de los locos (The Ship of Fools) in the light of the tension between Rosi Braidotti’s Deleuzian affirmation of feminism as a ‘joyful nomadic force’ (1994: 8) and Sara Ahmed’s critique of compulsory happiness (2010). Peri Rossi juxtaposes the prescriptive worldview of the captivating medieval ‘Tapestry of the Creation’ in the Cathedral of Girona in Catalonia, which depicts the Biblical story of Genesis, and the diasporic and unpredictable wanderings of the protagonist Ecks on his journey to feminist enlightenment. I argue that while the novel seems to champion nomadic subjectivity, it also highlights the deceptive charm of imperative positive affect that may function as a disciplinary force, compelling subjects to follow a conventional path in life, and invalidating those who ‘stray’ from it. My reading of the novel calls for a nuanced approach to exile and diaspora that takes into account wider questions of the privilege and ease of movement – or, indeed, settling – enjoyed by or denied to various subjects.
affect, Cristina Peri Rossi, exile, feminism, Rosi Braidotti, Sara Ahmed
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1464700118772140
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/278242