Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Spain, Andrea

Committee Member

Marsh, Kelly

Committee Member

Punday, Dan

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access



Degree Name

Master of Arts


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of English


In this thesis, I expand considerations of diaspora as not only a migration of people and cultures but a migration of thought. Specifically, I demonstrate that literary representations of diaspora produce what I consider to be an epistemological migration, challenging the idea that race and culture are stable and impermeable and offering instead racial and cultural fluidity. I assert that this causal relationship is best exemplified by narratives of racial passing written by diasporic writers. Using Homi Bhabha’s concepts of mimicry, hybridity, and ambivalence, I analyze Helen Oyeyemi’s Boy, Snow, Bird and Zoë Wicomb’s Playing in the Light, arguing that Boy, Snow, Bird’s narrative form is a form of mimicry that repeats European and African literary traditions and subverts Eurocentrism, while Playing in the Light is a “Third Space” in which to accept notions of the non-categorical fluidity of race. Through this analysis, I draw particular attention to Oyeyemi’s and Wicomb’s unique abilities to refract notions of race, rather than presumably reflect a system of strict categories, and, ultimately, I argue that these novels transcend the realm of literature, existing as empowering calls for society’s modifications of its racial perceptions.



Refraction||Homi Bhabha||Racial Passing||African Diaspora Literature