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The Exquisite Corpse of Asian AmericaBiopolitics, Biosociality, and Posthuman Ecologies$
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Rachel C. Lee

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781479817719

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479817719.001.0001

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Everybody’s Novel Protist

Everybody’s Novel Protist

Chimeracological Entanglements in Amitav Ghosh’s Fiction

(p.126) 4 Everybody’s Novel Protist
The Exquisite Corpse of Asian America

Rachel C. Lee

NYU Press

This chapter examines Amitav Ghosh's award-winning science fiction novel The Calcutta Chromosome (1995), a piece that speculates on the somatic transformations to biological life in an era where the world's waterways have become imperiled. Lauded for its “hypertextual” interweaving of speculative fiction, Bengali literature, and the history of medicine through which it challenges the West's monopoly on “scientific” knowledge, the novel articulates a vision of biological hosting and cross-species enmeshment that is central to critical discussions of the ethical and political stakes of race, postcolonial, and femiqueer studies. The chapter dwells at length on undocumented caretaking/hosting as a framework for comprehending Ghosh's postcolonial novel, despite the fact that parasitism and biological experimentation provide alternative lenses that are perhaps less inclined to understate, through the sentimentality of “care,” the antagonism and conflict of self-other relations alluded to in Ghosh's book.

Keywords:   Amitav Ghosh, The Calcutta Chromosome, somatic transformations, Bengali literature, medicine, biological hosting, cross-species enmeshment, race, femiqueer studies

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