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The Animals in Our Stories: Reading Human-Animal History, Kinship, and Inheritance in Asian Diasporic Literature

By Nandini Thiyagarajan

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This dissertation approaches literary animals in Asian diasporic novels through the concept of drawing close. I am interested in how literary animals can communicate an endeavour to draw animals close, and how literary representations of this closeness imagine normative human-animal relationships otherwise. I argue that even the most subtle literary animal can be read as a practice and expression of drawing animals close, and this closeness reveals itself most directly through each chapter in relation to belonging, family, and inheritance. This project centers around the question: what can stories offer animals? I argue that the fields of literary animal studies, postcolonial studies, and Asian diasporic studies need to come together in order to attend not only to the multiple ways that animals inhabit Asian diasporic novels, but also to the particular relationships between postcolonial subjects and animals. I chose novels that navigate relationships to animals often informed by Hindu and Buddhist epistemologies as an intervention in the predominantly Western-focused field of animal studies that has prioritized Western religious traditions, philosophies, and literature. Each chapter of this dissertation examines the diverse ways that authors listen to and represent literary animals, at times acting as a reflection of the desire and efforts to fortify the human-animal boundary, and at other times significantly challenging human exceptionalism by advocating for compassion and interdependence between humans and animals.


Mason N McLary

HABRI Central

Date 2017
Pages 236
Publisher McMaster University
Location of Publication Hamilton, Ontario
Degree Philosophy
Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Animals
  3. Animals in culture
  4. Asia
  5. Communication
  6. Family
  7. Human-animal interactions
  8. Human-animal relationships
  9. Literature
  10. Nature
  11. Pet ownership
  12. Pets and companion animals
  13. Physical environment
  14. Social Environments
  15. stories
  16. Wild animals