Formation of Identities through Diaspora: A Postcolonial Reading of Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie

Qasim Ali Kharal, Sharjeel Ashraf

  • Qasim Ali Kharal University of Sargodha – Lahore, Pakistan
  • Sharjeel Ashraf Lahore Garrison University – Lahore, Pakistan
Keywords: Identity, Diaspora, Stuart Hall, Decentralization


This research study aims at an exploration of framing identities of Hiroko Tanaka, a Japanese teacher, in the text Burnt Shadow by Pakistani novelist Kamila Shamsie, as a result of her experience of diaspora. This research study also focuses upon the discussion of how diaspora plays its due role in changing the identity of the main character. Theoretical insights from Stuart Hall's notion of 'De-centralization of identity is taken as a theoretical framework.  In modern society, the point has been negotiated that in possessing multiple identities, the identity of the main protagonist, is fluid, non-fixed, and evolving, since identity formation in modern society is a process constantly being refashioned and redesigned in contemporary discourse. To strengthen the main argument, Homi K Bhahbha’s concept of Unhomliness is also taken as a supporting theory. Hence, the text will highlight the struggle of one of Shamsie's characters with her hyphenated identity. This study concludes that diasporic experiences are responsible for Hiroko Tankaka’s non-fixed identity and fixed identity is unavoidable in modern society. This research study is qualitative in design and descriptive in nature, contributing to identity literature within Pakistani literature.