“We’ll be in touch all the time”: Touch and/as Resistance in Burnt Shadows (2009) and Home Fire (2017) by Kamila Shamsie


  • Jaine Chemmachery Sorbonne Université


Shamsie’s novels Burnt Shadows (2009) and Home Fire (2017) centre on touch and skin, be it in the former’s depiction of a heroine who bears on her body the “touchable” traces of the bombing of Nagasaki in 1945 or in the latter’s staging of an unwanted corpse, that of a criminalised terrorist, whose body has literally been construed as impure, and one could say by extension, untouchable. In this article, I wish to analyse the articulation between touch and resistance in the two novels which focus on traumatic historical events, with both personal and collective repercussions. In these historical contexts characterised by enduring coloniality and complex geopolitics, touch sometimes partakes of a form of resistance against hegemonic power and may even consist of a reparative process in the face of oppression and discrimination — a process that is not solely related to memory but that can ultimately lead to a reconfiguration of society.