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albeit in a fictional form, similarly ponders the cosmopolitan-local



The novel has been said to make “a new departure [from

previous novels] in being set in Japan, India, Afghanistan and New

York as well as Karachi” (King, 2011: 149). Shamsie herself also grants

that the novel is “more international” than her first four novels

(Shamsie, 2011: 212). Such an international novel, however, does not

uncritically celebrate mobility under globalization. Rather, it depicts in

detail the traumas of Asian and Muslim immigrants from WWII to the

War on Terror to underscore the plight of people in diaspora and the

danger of patriotism being mutated into aggressive nationalism and

expanded into imperialism. There seems to be a contradiction between



Burnt Shadows

, as the former favors the nation as a unit of

analysis in shedding light on Shamsie’s rooted cosmopolitanism,

whereas the latter criticizes nationalism as a serious challenge for

cosmopolitanism. However, with respect to individuals’ attachment to

the nation or state, it is essential to distinguish patriotism from

ethnocentrism. As Roudometof points out, “[t]he moral advocacy of

rooted cosmopolitanism rests on the proposition that patriotism . . .

does not necessarily imply ethnocentrism” (2005: 122). Yet, as my later

analysis of

Burnt Shadows

will show, patriotism becomes destructive

when it is confused and conflated with rabid nationalism and

ethnocentrism, which, according to Roudometof, is a quality

“conceptually linked to locals, who are expected to adopt the

viewpoint of unconditional support for one’s country, putting one’s

country first and protecting national interest irrespective of whether

their own position is morally superior or not” (122). It is not the idea

of national identity or love of one’s country

per se

that Shamsie’s

critical cosmopolitanism denounces but rather ethnocentric patriotism


I have written elsewhere on

Burnt Shadows

with thorough analysis of Shamsie’s

trauma writing in relation to diaspora and ethics. Other critics like Aroosa Kanwal

(2015), Gohar Karim Khan (2011), and Sachi Nakachi (2012) have dealt with

issues of Islamophobia, globalization, nationalism, feminism as well as Shamsie’s

use of transnational allegory. My analysis here will therefore focus on a few critical

parts of the novel that could best substantiate Shamsie’s critical cosmopolitanism

as it is developed in the subaltern positions.