Transnational Bodies in Transit

New Routes for Affective Transpositions in Shani Mootoo’s Polar Vortex




Affect transpositions, South Asian diaspora, Canada hospitality, HomeSpace, Hostile environment, Shani Mootoo


This article puts Shani Mootoo’s novel, Polar Vortex (2020), in conversation with the vitalist philosophy of Rosi Braidotti, as illustrated in the study Posthuman Feminism (2022) and Libe García Zarranz “Sustainable Affects” (2017a, 2020b). I look at the centrality of affective relations in the transformation of queer subjectivity under processes of the growing (un)happiness in the diasporic homeSpace. Shani Mootoo’s (non)diasporic cross-border narrative proposes contrastive figurations of the subject through temporal and spatial frameworks. Mootoo’s “transposable moves” resist a naïve return to sentimentality or nostalgic love to advocate instead a turn to sustainable affects.


Ahmed, S. (2004). The Cultural Politics of Emotion. Routledge.

Ahmed, S. (2009). Happiness and Queer Politics. World Picture Journal, 3, 1-20.

Ahmed, S. (2010). The Promise of Happiness. Duke University Press. DOI:

Ahmed, S. (2014). Willful Subjects. Duke University Press. DOI:

Alaimo, S. (2008). Trans-Corporeal Feminisms and the Ethical Space of Nature. In S. Alaimo, & S. J. Hekman (Eds) Material Feminisms (pp. 237-264). Indiana University Press.

Beauregard, G. (1999). “The Emergence of ‘Asian Canadian Literature’: Can Lit’s Obscene Supplement?” Essays on Canadian Writing, 67, 53-75.

Berlant, Lauren, and Michael Warner (1998). Sex in Public. Critical Inquiry, 24(2), 547-566. DOI:

Berlant, Lauren. (2011). Cruel Optimism. Duke University Press. DOI:

Brah, A. (1996). Cartographies of Diaspora: Contesting Identities. Routledge

Braidotti, R. (1991). Patterns of Dissonance: A Study of Women and Contemporary Philosophy. Polity Press.

Braidotti, R. (2006). Transpositions: On Nomadic Ethics. Polity Press.

Braidotti, R. (2013). The Posthuman. Polity Press.

Braidotti, R. (2018). Por una política afirmativa: itinerarios éticos. Gedisa.

Braidotti, R. (2022). Posthuman Feminism. Polity Press.

Brown, L. B. (2014). Two Spirit People: American Indian Lesbian Women and Gay Men. Routledge. DOI:

Butler, J. (1990). Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. Routledge.

Butler, J. (2016). Rethinking Vulnerability and Resistance. In J. Butler, Z. Gambetti, & L. Sambsay (Eds), Vulnerability and Resistance (pp. 12-27). Duke University Press. DOI:

Chakraborty, C. (2012). India via Trinidad and Canada: Negotiating Hospitality in Shani Mootoo’s Short Stories. Studies in Canadian Literature, 37(1), 66-81.

Charczun, A. (2019). Lesbian Migrant Writing: From Lesbian Nation to Queer Diaspora. A Journal of Irish Diaspora, 9, 91-112.

Chatterjee, P. (1989). Colonialism, Nationalism, and Colonialized Women: The Contest in India. American Ethnologist, 16(4), 622-633. DOI:

Chatterjee, P. (1993). The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories. Princeton University Press. DOI:

De Certeau, M. (1984). The Practice of Everyday Life. University of California Press.

Derrida, J. (2000a) Hostipitality. Angelaki, 5(3), 3-18. DOI:

Derrida, J. and A. Dufourmantelle. (2000b). Of Hospitality. (Trad. R. Bowlby). Stanford University Press.

Felski, R. (2015). The Limits of Critique. University of Chicago Press. DOI:

Ferguson, R. A. (2004). Aberrations in Black: Toward A Queer of Color Critique. University of Minnesota Press.

García-Zarranz, L. (2017a). TransCanadian Feminist Fictions: New Cross-Border Ethics. McGill-Queen’s University Press.

García Zarranz, L. (2017b). Love Enough! Dionne Brand and Rossi Braidotti’s Affective Transpositions. Atlantis, 38(2), 47-56.

García Zarranz, L. (2020a). All’s Well: On Positionality, Transtemporality, and Scandalous Bodies. Canadian Literature.

García Zarranz, L. (2020b). Feeling Sideways: Shani Mootoo and Kai Cheng Thom’s Sustainable Affects. University of Toronto Quarterly, 89(1), 88-112. DOI:

Gedalof, I. (2005). Against Purity: Rethinking Identity with Indian and Western Feminisms. Routledge. DOI:

Gilroy, P. (1993). The Black Atlantic.: Modernity and Double Consciousness. Harvard University Press.

Gopinath, G. (2003). Nostalgia, Desire, Diaspora: South Asian Sexualities in Motion. In R. J. Corber, & S. Valocchi (Eds.) Queer Studies: An Interdisciplinary Reader (pp. 206-217). Blackwell.

Gopinath, G. (2005). Impossible Desires: Queer Diasporas and South Asian Public Cultures. Duke University Press. DOI:

Gopinath, G. (2010). Archive, Affect, and the Everyday: Queer Diasporic Re-visions. In J. Staiger, A. Cvetkovich, & A. Reynolds (Eds.) Political Emotions: New Agendas in Communication (pp. 179-206). Routledge.

Greene, B. (1996). Lesbian Women of Color: Triple Jeopardy. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 1(1), 109-147. DOI:

Hall, S. (1990). Cultural Identity and Diaspora. In J. Rutherford (Ed.) Identity: Community, Culture, Difference (pp. 222-237). Lawrence & Wishart.

Herek, Gregory M. (1998). Stigma and Sexual Orientation: Understanding Prejudice against Lesbians, Gay Men and Bisexuals. Sage. DOI:

Hirsch, M. (March 24, 2019). “Bodies that assemble: Some notes on vulnerability.” Critique and Praxis

Ezra Klein Show. (2018, August 28). N.K. Jemisin’s master class in world building [Video]. YouTube.

Kamboureli, S. & R. Miki (Eds.) (2007). Trans.Can.Lit: Resituating the Study of Canadian Literature. Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

Kamboureli, S. (2009). Scandalous Bodies: Diasporic Literature in English Canada. (2nd edition). Wilfried Laurier University Press.

Kamboureli, S. (2021). Introduction I: Literary Solidarities: Should I Be Here? University of Toronto Quarterly, 89(1), 1-22. DOI:

Lai, L. (2018). Insurgent Utopias: How to Recognize the Knock at the Door. In I. Batzke, E. C. Erbacher, L. M. Heß, & C. Lenhardt (Eds.) Exploring the Fantastic: Genre, Ideology, and Popular Culture (pp. 91-113). Columbia UP. DOI:

Maira, S. (2012). Desis in the House: Indian American Youth Culture in NYC. Temple University Press.

Mbembe, A. (December 1, 2018). Professor Achille Mbembe’s Address at the 2018 Holberg Debate. The University Aula, Bergen, Muséplass 3. Bergen, Norway. The Holberg Prize.

Mehta, B. J. (2004). Diasporic (Dis)locations: Indo-Caribbean Women Writers Negotiate the Kala Pani. University of West Indies Press.

Mootoo, S. (2020). Polar Vortex. Akashic Press.

Ngai, S. (2005). Ugly Feelings. Harvard University Press. DOI:

Pirbhai, M. (2015). On ‘Moving Forward’ toward the Un/familiar: An Interview with Shani Mootoo. Interview. Studies in Canadian Literature/Études en Litterature Canadienne, 40(1), 227-41. DOI:

Puar, J. K. (2005). Queer Times, Queer Assemblages. Social Text, 23, 121-139. DOI:

Richardson, D., & Seidman, S. (2004). Handbook of Lesbian and Gay Studies. Sage.

Salcedo González, C. (2020). An Exploration of Queer Diasporic Subjectivities in Shani Mootoo’s “Out on Main Street”. Complutense Journal of English Studies, 28, 57-63. DOI:

Sharma, M. (2006). Loving Women: Being Lesbian in Unprivileged India. Yoda Press.

Taylor, E. L. (2011). Courting Strangeness: Queerness and Diaspora in Out on Main Street and He Drown She in the Sea. Journal of West Indian Literature, 19(2), 68-84.

Trent University. (2022, March 16). Sara Ahmed, "Complaint as a Queer Method" [Video]. YouTube.

Tonkiss, F. (2005). Space, the City and Social Theory: Social Relations and Urban Forms. Polity Press.

Troeung, Y-D. Introduction. (2022). Canadian Literature, 246, 6-14.

Van Herk, A. (2021). Trembling Strength: Migrating Vulnerabilities in Fiction by Sharon Bala, Yasmin Ladha, and Denise Chong. The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 56(3), 345-358. DOI:

Walcott, R. (2012). Outside in Black Studies: Reading from a Queer Place in the Diaspora. In M. FitzGerald & S. Rayter (Eds.) Queerly Canadian: An Introductory Reader in Sexuality Studies (pp. 23-34). Canadian Scholars’ Press.

Wesling, M. (2008). Why Queer Diaspora? Feminist Review, 90(1), 30-47. DOI:



How to Cite

Llarena Ascanio, M. J. (2023). Transnational Bodies in Transit : New Routes for Affective Transpositions in Shani Mootoo’s Polar Vortex . HUMAN REVIEW. International Humanities Review / Revista Internacional De Humanidades, 16(1), 147–157.



Critical reflection articles