Cosmopolitanism in Process: Seeking Self-Authenticity in Zadie Smith's White Teeth

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Department of English Language and Literature, Islamic Azad University, Central Tehran Branch, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of English Language and Literature, Islamic Azad University, Borujerd Branch, Borujerd, Iran


In White Teeth, Zadie Smith imparts a realistic and profound commentary on contemporary multicultural London environment, highlighting not only the challenging realities about British multiethnic society, but also about the human condition in such a situation. A key aspect of her novel is an authorial interrogation of the individual subject's position and identity formation, especially that of the first and second-generation immigrants facing the intensified interconnections and interdependencies of live worlds with social diversity in current globalization. In White Teeth, Smith concentrates on diversity of cultural contexts and the implication of divergent historical routes to illustrate how identity and self-authenticity cannot be perceived and maintained simply in terms of the importation of a single national model, global uniformity or in terms of a retreat into individualistic orientations. Different factors such as ethnicity, personal histories, interfamilial relationships, and cultural belonging are discussed in assessing Smith's treatment of the concept of self-authenticity. Studying these dimensions of the novel, this essay brings to the fore different dynamics within Gerard Delanty’s concept of critical cosmopolitanism as a particularly appropriate medium to explore the ways in which history and interpersonal relationships with diversity act and influence the construction of self-authenticity.


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