Week 5 echos Presents from my Aunt in Pakistan Zainab Mogul

Zainab Mogul

I’d like to start this piece of writing with a quote “The deal with multiculturalism is that the only culture you’re allowed to disapprove of is your own” (metcalf, 2012) When we were told to write about a piece of text which holds some sort of significant meaning to you, the first thing that came to mind was Moniza Alvi’s Presents from my Aunt in Pakistan, I remember reading this poem in year 10, I felt an immediate connection with the words in my anthology every line triggered a new emotion and certainly a new memory Connerton believes that “every group…will entrust to bodily automatisms the values and categories which they are most anxious to conserve” (Tambornino, 2002) (Connerton, 1989) therefore if I link this back to my situation could it suggest that the memories which I remembered were in fact the memories which I wanted to “conserve” (Connerton, 1989) regardless of me saying to myself ‘I hate being Pakistani I hate the culture I just want to be like my friends’ I always knew I was different from my friends and that’s what made me want to push my culture to one side, I wasn’t allowed to stay out late like them or even go to sleepovers. Whenever someone asked me what I got for Christmas to them my response was always “I don’t celebrate Christmas I celebrate Eid” there reply was often “I feel so sorry for you”. I questioned what I wanted, did I just want to be like everyone else for the sake of avoiding questions like these, but it came to me who gives anyone the right to make me feel isolated. Foucault idea of “‘exteriority” is often “synonymous” (Gamble, 2001) to othering with the idea ‘always on the outside of the power’ when ‘othering’ occurs it often singles out a group, subculture or a minority and singles out the differences in social norms and values, just because I was born into a different culture didn’t mean I was any different to them, At that point I was happy for what my mother and father did for me instead of being thrown into a ‘melting pot’ they showed me that embracing English culture and Pakistani culture were equally important for my it’s a part of me and my identity. Cornelius Castoriadis believes that “norms, values, language, tools procedures” (Tovar-Restrepo, 2012) are the reason for a unified society however what happens when we don’t conform to these social norms are we then seen as outsiders because we do not connect in the “web of meaning” (Tovar-Restrepo, 2012) Years passed since reading presents from my aunts in Pakistan, “Don Locke suggests that “personal memory consists in bringing some previously experienced thing to mind, thinking about it again and going over what it was like” (Locke, 1971) so sitting here reading Presents from my aunts in Pakistan brings back memories of my confused teenage self and how this poem helped me think about my culture my own identity instead of throwing away what was a part of me I embraced it with open arms and now I can say I love telling my friends about my culture I have been able to find a balance and am not ashamed to embed my culture in my daily life.


Connerton, P. (1989). How Societies Remember (Themes in the Social Sciences). In P. Connerton, How Societies Remember. Cambridge University Press .

Gamble, S. (2001). The Routledge Companion to Feminism and Postfeminism. In S. Gamble, The Routledge Companion to Feminism and Postfeminism. Routledge; 2 edition .

Locke, D. C. (1971). Memory (Problems of Philosophy). In D. C. Locke, Memory . Macmillan; First Edition edition .

metcalf, F. (2012). The Biteback Dictionary of Humorous Political Quotations . Biteback Publishing .

Tambornino, J. (2002). The Corporeal Turn: Passion, Necessity, Politics. In J. Tambornino, The Corporeal Turn (p. 88). Rowman & Littlefield Publishers .

Tovar-Restrepo, M. (2012). Castoriadis, Foucault, and Autonomy: New Approaches to Subjectivity, Society, and Social Change (Continuum Studies in Continental Philosophy). In Castoriadis, Foucault, and Autonomy: New Approaches to Subjectivity, Society, and Social Change (p. 55). Continnuum-3PL .




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