The CLR James Journal

Volume 27, Issue 1/2, Fall 2021

Decolonizing Spiritualities

Ashmita Khasnabish
Pages 301-324

Tagore’s “Kabuliwallah”
Is It a Story of Real or Virtual Diaspora or Both?

This paper explores the concept of virtual diaspora, a concept through which I hope to establish another bridge between East and West. Virtual diaspora is a distinct and fluid location somewhere between postcoloniality and globalization, which allows the immigrant to address the pain of leaving home by moving back and forth mentally and thus being at home and abroad at the same time. I illustrate this subjective location with the aid of Rabindranath Tagore’s short story, “Kabuliwallah.” The state of mind of virtual diaspora I link systematically to Gilles Deleuze’s concept of immanence as a transcendental field that is without subject or object. As such it is without the material constraints of objects or the identity-based constraints of subjects, such as national and cultural boundaries. Living from this plane of pure immanence opens up the possibilities for the immigrant to move mentally back and forth, thus virtualizing his/her diaspora. I also link this concept of virtual diaspora to the concept of “the religion of man” in Tagore, and also to that of “the religion of humanity” in the Indian philosopher, Sri Aurobindo. In these ways, I hope to establish the concept of a virtual diaspora and at the same time a bridge between East and West.