Cognitive Mapping of Migrants’ Identity in Mohja Kahf’s: The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf
My article investigates the experience of migration from the Middle East to America in Mohja Kahf’s novel, The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf. To understand the narrative of the world of migrants, it would be helpful to perform a cognitive cartographic analysis. Kahf performs a form of social and psychic cartography by exploring migrants’ space through the character of the coming-of-age girl, Khadra, by situating the turning points in her character at certain places. I classify these places into three types: space of conflict, space of illumination and space of reconciliation. The text can be read as a map of the represented transatlantic space(s). However, this map shows particular locations in which Khadra is involved. Khadra’s character develops through her physical interaction with certain geographical, urban and cultural spaces. Hence, this text emphasises the role of literature in the process which Fredric Jameson terms “cognitive mapping” and provides an understanding of the experience of migration. Since space in the context of Kahf’s narrative is a mental, cartographic construct as it is being explored and grappled with all the time, I employ a geocritical approach in my analysis of the book.
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