Europe as Viewed from Asia [Pakistan] in the Poetry of Perveen Shakir (1952-1994)

  • Abstract:

    Mary Louise Pratt, in her book Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation, states that marginal groups select and absorb ideas and materials transmitted from dominant culture (1992, p.6). What she defines as marginal are those groups who were once under the British Imperial rule, and which were later separated due to geographical and historical reasons. She further states that, in order to progress and develop marginalized groups borrow ideas and develop them in their own cultural setting. This explores Bhabha’s postcolonial theory of Hybridity (1994) where he says diverse cultures when meeting deconstruct, what Said calls binaries of colonial discourses (1978;1993).Bakhtin calls it ‘dialogism’ by‘re-accentuating’ or rewriting different borrowed ideas (Bakhtin 1981, p.417). This,on the one hand,identifies the interdependence of two diverse cultures, and, on the other hand, it deconstructs and diverts the supremacy of the dominant culture (Bhabha 1994). This theoretical framework will be used to explore the poem ‘Ecstasy’ written by Perveen Shakir, a twentieth century Pakistani Muslim female poet, which was influenced by ‘The Exstasie’, a poem by the sixteenth century poet John Donne. This paper aims to show how cleverly Shakir incorporated European culture into her own in order to educate her English readership about the role of women in Pakistani culture. The intertextuality (Allen 2000) of transforming canonical text into something new (Nasta 2000) is not uncommon with postcolonial writers. They take from classical texts and give them a twist, which is what Shakiris doing, and which will be analysed in this paper. She is using canonical text and the theme of sexuality, and is giving her own contemporary perspective in order to bring across her own political agenda of depicting male-domination and the question of female suppression in Pakistani Muslim society.