The Parallels of Mobility and Exile in Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s Before We Meet the Goddess: A Cosmopolitan Reading

Shobana Jeyasingam, Manimangai Mani, Rosli Talif, Mohammad Ewan Awang


Creating new cultures are equally relevant as to preserving one’s identity and roots in this time and age. Kwame Anthony Appiah advocates that one be a rooted cosmopolitan – that we learn from each other’s differences and celebrate diversity. And through this, one creates new cultures by connecting the cultures that one brings along and the cultures of the new environment. Therefore, being mobile through various forms of migration has opened up platforms for inclusivity through diversity. Waldron (1992) asserts that “all individuals are made up of multifarious cultural identities and already identify with an array of cultural obligations.” The Indian diaspora is one community that embraces cosmopolitanism via mobility of culture and migration. Nonetheless, this paper will explore the conflicting notion of how mobility that provides a source of escapism for the characters in Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s Before We Meet The Goddess eventually leads them to exile from each other. Mobility as a celebrated tenet of cosmopolitanism is embraced by three generations of women for various reasons and yet it has propelled them to a stance of rootlessness as opposed to the rooted cosmopolitan that they could have been. While most research of cosmopolitanism in Indian English fiction centres on the home and nation in developing cosmopolitan identity, this paper seeks to provide an alternate understanding to cosmopolitanism as to how mobility has inadvertently led these characters into exile (mainly from each other) and into a state of being rootless.


Cosmopolitanism, Rooted Cosmopolitanism, Mobility, Indian, Indian Diaspora, Rootless

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