Kinship between “companion species”: A posthuman refiguration of the immigrant condition in Shaun Tan’s The Arrival

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Abstract

Academy Award-winning author and illustrator Shaun Tan’s 2007 graphic novel The Arrival poignantly tells the story of the typical immigrant experience. Tan creates an ostensibly alienating and unfamiliar terrain which may be described as a “posthuman landscape”. Instead of presenting the traditional native-versus-immigrant framework typical of diasporic stories, Tan chooses to delineate an inter-species relationship where the immigrant man is assisted by a native animal. An odd-looking creature becomes the protagonist’s guide in the new country and assists him in a myriad of ways throughout the story. This article explores the implications of such a relationship in the age of the Anthropocene where the privileged anthropocentrism of western humanism has been replaced by an egalitarianism of species. Using Donna Haraway’s notion of “companion species” and Rosi Braidotti’s recent articulation of the posthuman, it suggests a connection between the posthuman and the postcolonial in Tan’s text and thereby explores the significance of a non-human Other coming to the assistance of the immigrant Other within the space of a posthuman, postcolonial world. Thus the article seeks to study the reconfiguration of otherness in the face of incommensurable difference, and articulate its implications for diasporic thought. Copyright © 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-414
JournalJournal of Postcolonial Writing
Volume52
Issue number4
Early online dateOct 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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Kinship
Companionship
Immigrants
Otherness
Articulation
Egalitarianism
Graphic Novel
Nonhuman
Thought
Creatures
Donna Haraway
Protagonist
Animals
Anthropocentrism
Humanism

Citation

Banerjee, B. (2016). Kinship between “companion species”: A posthuman refiguration of the immigrant condition in Shaun Tan’s The Arrival. Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 52(4), 399-414.

Keywords

  • Companion species
  • Diaspora
  • Donna Haraway
  • Graphic novel
  • Posthuman
  • Shaun Tan