Nidhi Chanani's Pashmina: A Single Mother's Quest for Diasporic Relocation


  • Manonita Chowdhary Roy Ghatak Odisha University of Technology and Research



Multiculturalism, Graphic novel, Indian diaspora


Nidhi Chanani in her debut graphic novel, Pashmina synthesizes the diasporic dilemma of dislocation and relocation in a multicultural context through Nimisha’s character. As a first-generation immigrant, Nimisha projects the concept of “cultural transplantation” in a diasporic setting. She represents the Indian-American women and brings out their quandaries, joys, and sorrows during their struggle between relocation and acculturation. Seen through the eyes of Priyanka, Pashmina charts Nimisha’s quest for identity in India and the diaspora. Through the psychological, cultural, and generational conflict of Nimisha and her daughter, Nidhi Chanani presents a mother-daughter duo to us who challenge the traditional concept of diasporic womanhood in various ways. The present paper demarcates the zones of Nidhi Chanani’s female diasporic characters’ confirmation of the prevalent diasporic theories and their breaking from them. It further proceeds to focus on how the traditional concept of diasporic victimhood and forced exile has given way to emancipation and identity formation. Finally, the article examines how the graphic novel presents America as a total antithesis to India: although geographically alien, the country is perceived by immigrant women as a place in which they can survive with dignity and respect.


Bleakley, Hoyt, and Aimee Chin. "Age at Arrival, English Proficiency, and Social Assimilation Among US Immigrants." American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, vol. 2, no. 1, 2010, pp. 165–192.

Braziel, Jana Evans, and Anita Mannur, editors. Theorizing Diaspora: A Reader. Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2003.

Brocket, Tom. “From ‘in-betweenness’ to ‘positioned belongings’: second-generation Palestinian-Americans negotiate the tensions of assimilation and transnationalism.” Ethnic and Racial Studies, vol. 43, no. 16, 2020, pp. 135–154. DOI:10.1080/01419870.2018.1544651.

Brown, C. Mackenzie. The Triumph of the Goddess: The Canonical Models and Theological Visions of the Devi-Bhagavata Purana. State U of New York P, 1990.

Chanani, Nidhi. Pashmina. First Second, New York, 2017.

Chu, Patricia P. Assimilating Asians: Gendered Strategies of Authorship in Asian America. Duke University Press, 2000.

Clifford, James. Diasporas. Cultural Anthropology, vol. 9, no. 3, 1994, pp. 302–338.

Coburn, Thomas B. Devī Māhātmya: The Crystallization of the Goddess Tradition. Motilal Banarsidass Press, 2002.

Deshmukh, Pradnya. Nationalism, Transnationalism Diasporic Experience in Bapsi Sidhwa and Chitra Banerjee. Discovery Publishing House, 2013.

Devi, K. N. Uma, and M. Nagalakshmi. “Indian Diasporic Writers in Diasporic Literature –A Study.” Turkish Online Journal of Qualitative Inquiry, July 2021, pp. 1908-1912.

Durak, Mithat, Emre Senol Durak, and Mehmet Sakiroglu. "The Psychological Effects of The Losses in Exile Experiences: A Qualitative Research." Journal of International Scientific Researches, August 2019, pp. 579–585. DOI: 10.21733/ibadjournal.590318.

Dwyer, Rachel. All You need is Money, All You Need is Love: Sex and Romance in Modern India. Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd., June 2000.

Edwards, Bradley C. editor. Conversations with Bharati Mukherjee. U P of Mississippi, 2009.

Fadla, Sara, and Yousef Awad. "Transcending Patriarchal and Cultural Borders in Bharati Mukherjee's Jasmine." International Journal of English and Education, vol. 7, no. 2, Apr. 2018, pp. 170–180.

Jain, Jasbir. "The Plural Tradition: Indian English Fiction." Spectrum History of Indian Literature in English, edited by Ram Sewak Singh and Charu Sheel Singh, New Atlantic Publishers and Distributors, 1997, pp. 55–90.

Jain, Shobhita. "Women's Agency in the Context of Family Networks in Indian Diaspora." Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 41, no. 23, 2006, pp. 2312–2316.

Jayaram, N. "Introduction: The Study of Indian Diaspora." The Indian Diaspora: Dynamics of Migration, edited by N. Jayaram, Sage Publications, 2004, pp. 15–43.

Kimak, Izabella. "On Geographical and Metaphorical (Fault) Lines: Immigration, Acculturation and Generation Gap in South Asian American Women's Fiction." Roczniki Humanistyczne, vol. 63, no. 11, Jan. 2015, pp. 235-244. DOI: 10.18290/rh.2015.63.11-14.

Landow, Shoshana M. “Changing Images of Women in South Asian Fiction.” Anthropology 302, Princeton University, 1989. Accessed 4 Nov. 2022.

Lau, Lisa. “Literary Representations of the ‘New Indian Woman’: The Single, Working, Urban, Middle Class Indian Woman Seeking Personal Autonomy.” Journal of South Asian Development, vol. 5, no. 2, 2010, pp. 271–292.

Makhijani, Pooja. “Nidhi Chanani's Graphic Novel Pashmina Is Part of an Important New Genre.” Electric Literature, 11 Oct. 2017. Accessed 24 Nov. 2020.

McDaniel, June. Offering Flowers, Feeding Skulls: Popular Goddess Worship in West Bengal. Oxford UP, 2004.

McLeod, Alan L. The Literature of the Indian Diaspora: Essays in Criticism. Sterling Publishers, 2000.

Mishra, Pragya. “Appendage no more: Viewing Women as Individuals first.” Sharing 4 Good, 6 Nov. 2020. Accessed 22 Nov. 2020.

Mukherjee, Bhaswati. “Journey of the Women of Indian Diaspora: Carriers of Culture, Preservers of Identity.” Ministry of External Affairs, 29 Mar. 2015. < Accessed 24 Nov. 2020.

Myers, Randy. “Popularity of graphic novels just keeps growing.” The Mercury News, 13 Aug. 2016. novels-just-keeps-growing/. Accessed 11 Oct. 2021.

Narayanan, Jayashree. “Young and single: Why many women are not thinking marriage.” The Indian Express, 17 July 2019. . Accessed 4 Nov. 2022.

Neelakantan, Anand. “Sita is perhaps literature's first single mother who raises children to defeat a warrior like Ram.”, 8 Aug. 2021. Accessed 4 Nov. 2022.

Nonini, D. M. "Diasporas and Globalization." Encyclopedia of Diasporas. edited by Melvin Ember, Carol R. Ember, and Ian Skoggard, Springer, 2005. pp. 559–570.

Nosalek, Kevin. Imagining the Homeland: Myth, Movement, and Migration in Three Novels by Women from the African Diaspora. 2015. East Carolina University. Master’s Thesis. The ScholarShip, Accessed 25 Nov. 2020.

Pande, Amba. “Preface.” Women in the Indian Diaspora. Historical Narratives and Contemporary Challenges, Springer, 2019, pp. v–vi.

Parameswaran, Uma. "Home is where your feet are, and may your heart be there too!" Writers of the Indian Diaspora, edited by Jasbir Jain, Rawat Publications, 1998, pp. 30–39.

Pande, Amba. Trishanku and Other Writings. The University of Michigan: Prestige, 1998.

Parmar, Naresh A. “Emergence of Indian Women Writers and their status in Indo-Anglican literature.” International Journal of Research in all Subjects in Multi Languages, vol. 6, no. 3, 2018, pp. 36–41.

Patel, Dipti Rameshbhai. "Altering Trends of Diaspora: First and Second Generation Diasporic Writers." The Global Journal of Literary Studies, vol. 2, no. 2, Feb. 2016, pp. 1-10.

Pathak, Hari Priya, “Hinduism and Women Religious Beliefs and Practices.” RAIS Conference Proceedings, The 13th International RAIS Conference on Social Sciences and Humanities, June 30, 2019, SRN:; DOI:

Pokhriyal, Chetana. “The Theme of Alienation and Assimilation in the Novels of Bharati Mukherjee: A Socio-Literary Perspective.”, n.d. Accessed 26 Nov. 2020.

Purkayastha, Bandana, et al. “The Study of Gender in India: A Partial Review.” Gender and Society, vol. 17, no. 4, 2003, pp. 503–24. JSTOR, Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

Quazi, Suman. “Nidhi Chanani's New Graphic Novel Explores The Mother-Daughter Relationship.”, 1 May 2018. https://www.mid-

Raj, P. Prayer Elmo. “The Concept of Home in Diaspora.” Lapis Lazuli-An International Literary Journal, vol. 4, no. 2, Autumn 2014, pp. 85-97. Accessed 24 Nov.2020.

Rajan, Gita, and Shailja Sharma. "Theorizing Recognition: South Asian Authors in a Global Milieu." New Cosmopolitanisms: South Asians in the US, edited by Rajan and Sharma. Stanford: Stanford U P, 2006, pp. 150–171.

Rajan, R. S. Real and Imagined Women: Gender, Culture and Postcolonialism. Routledge, 1993.

Safran, William. "Diasporas in Modern Societies: Myths of Homeland and Return." Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, vol. 1, no. 1, Spring 1991, pp. 83–99.

Sen, Nandini. Through the Diasporic Lens, edited by Nandini Sen, Authors Press, 2017.

Smacks, Patricia. Stage of Self: Notes on Autobiography and the Life Cycle in the American Autobiographies. Pen Craft. 1989.

Thornton, Bruce. “Melting Pots and Salad Bowls.” Hoover Digest, 26 Oct. 2012. Accessed 22 Nov. 2020.

Tigau, Camelia, Amba Pande, and Yan Yuan. "Diaspora policies and co-development: A Comparison between India, China and Mexico." Migration Letters, vol. 14, no. 2, 2017, pp. 189–203.

Tinker, Hugh. The Banyan Tree: Overseas Emigrants from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Oxford U P, 1977.

Vatsa, Apala. "Women in a Multicultural Diaspora: Dilemmas of Gender and Culture." Diaspora Studies, vol. 9, no. 1, 2016, pp. 64–75. DOI: 10.1080/09739572.2015.1088615.

Verma, Mukesh Ranjan. "Indian English Novel since 1980." Reflections on Indian English Literature, edited by Mukesh Ranjan Verma and Krishna Autar Agarwal, Sarup & Sons, 2002, pp. 1–7.

Vincent, Pappy, and K. Thanikasalam. “The Conflict between the First Generation and the Second Generation Immigrants in Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s The Mistress of Spices.” The International Journal of Analytical and Experimental Modal Analysis, vol. 12, no. 10, Oct. 2020, pp. 526–530. Accessed 22 Nov. 2020.

Walters, Wendy W. “Introduction.” At Home in Diaspora. U of Minnesota P, 2005, pp. vii–xxiv.

Zoboi, Ibi. “Can India Be Her Homeland, Even if She's Never Been There?” The New York Times, 10 Nov. 2017. Accessed 24 Nov. 2020.