Rauwerda, Antje. “Third Culture Kids”: Detachment, Adolescence, and Yann Martel’s Self.”
Transnational Literature. Vol. 13, October 2021
DOI: https://doi.org/10.33008/TNL.2021.13011
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“Third Culture Kids”: Detachment, Adolescence, and Yann Martel’s Self.”
Antje Rauwerda


This article builds on Pollock, Van Reken and Pollock’s definition of Third Culture Kids and on studies of adolescence in Developmental Psychology in order to analyse Yann Martel’s third culture novel Self. Interdisciplinarity is an innovation in this piece, but the key insight presented in the article is the need to consider Third Culture Kid detachment in 3D. Often, Third Culture Kid is depicted in a Venn diagram, overlapping first and second cultures, as though all were terrestrial. However, I argue that Third Culture actually floats some distance above, cloudlike and unrooted in any nation. This is a new insight within Third Culture Kid studies; it is also the crucial element that distinguishes third culture from other types of international dislocation (diaspora, transnational, borderland, liminal) and their subtending preoccupation with (terrestrial) nation.

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Antje Rauwerda

Antje M. Rauwerda is an Associate Professor of British and Postcolonial Literature at Goucher College in Maryland, US. She is the author of The Writer and the Overseas Childhood: The Third Culture Literature of Kingsolver, McEwan and Others plus other articles in the fields of third culture and postcolonial literature.