open access

Abstract

This paper reads Bharati Mukherjee’s short story “The Management of Grief” as an uncompromised critique of Canadian Multiculturalism at its early stage in the 1980s. Without neglecting the crucially humanist component of Mukherjee’s investment in writing this story, the article demonstrates how, through subtle strategies of representation, “The Management of Grief” presents Canada as a country where whiteness-as-power is pervasive, and where ethnic minorities are perceived by mainstream society as exogenous, and made to feel as such. Together with this, the story as an archetypical representation of the predicament of diasporas, understood, pace Vijay Mishra and others, in the sense of the diasporic condition perceived as dominated by melancholia. The story evokes the diaspora experience in several other ways, most notably with its emphasis on the in-between status of such communities in an identitarian, affective and political sense. The analysis eventually focuses on how the story underscores and subtly illuminates the process of a political empowerment, an awareness-raising process which, accompanied by a coming-into-political-agency, marks a turning point in the increasingly relevant political role played by diasporas within the multicultural nation state.