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In StereotypeSouth Asia in the Global Literary Imaginary$
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Mrinalini Chakravorty

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231165969

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231165969.001.0001

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To Understand Me, You’ll Have to Swallow a World

To Understand Me, You’ll Have to Swallow a World

Margins, Multitudes, and the Nation in Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children

Chapter:
(p.50) 2 To Understand Me, You’ll Have to Swallow a World
Source:
In Stereotype
Author(s):

Mrinalini Chakravorty

Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231165969.003.0002

This chapter considers the stereotypical representation of crowds and overpopulation in Salman Rushdie's narrative, Midnight's Children. The novel's overarching theme centers on the anxieties regarding the future of the Indian subcontinent's newly formed postcolonies, which represent the political threshold of decolonization as a collective, polyphonic experience. Drawing on Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's thesis that the “productive flesh of the multitude” has the “unruly” capacity to challenge the neoliberal world order, Rushdie's magical realism in the story reinvents the colonial stereotypes of “dirty” and “disorderly” mobs to reflect a new immanent potential for the children of Midnight. The multitude exists in Rushdie's fiction to reify stereotypical images of the subcontinent as teeming, chaotic, heteronormative, excessively consumptive, and fecund—a vision of a people aligned with the goals of a liberal state.

Keywords:   crowd stereotypes, overpopulation stereotypes, Salman Rushdie, postcolonies, Midnight's Children

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