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Race and Antiracism in Black British and British Asian Literature

Race and Antiracism in Black British and British Asian Literature

Dave Gunning
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Pages: 196
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    Race and Antiracism in Black British and British Asian Literature
    Book Description:

    'Race and Antiracism in Black British and British Asian Literature' offers the first extended exploration of the cultural impact of the politics of race and antiracism in Britain through focussing on a selection of recent novels by black British and British Asian writers. The study argues that an understanding of how race and ethnicity function in contemporary Britain can only be gained through attention to antiracism: the politics of opposing discrimination that manifest at the level of state legislation, within local and national activism, and inside the scholarly exploration of race. It is antiracism that now most strongly conditions the emergence of racial categorisations but also of racial identities and models of behaviour. This sense of how antiracism may determine the form and content of both political debate and individual identity is traced through an examination of ten novels by black British and British Asian writers. These authors range from the well known to the critically neglected: works by Monica Ali, Nadeem Aslam, Fred D’Aguiar, Ferdinand Dennis, Hanif Kureishi, Gautam Malkani, Caryl Phillips, Mike Phillips, Zadie Smith, and Meera Syal are carefully read to explore the impacts of antiracism. These literary studies are grouped into three main themes, each of which is central to the direction of racial political identities over the last two decades in Britain: the use of the continent of Africa as a symbolic focus for black political culture; the changing forms of Muslim culture in Britain; and the emergence of a multiculturalist ethos based around the notion of ethnic communities.

    eISBN: 978-1-84631-625-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-v)
  3. Acknowledgements (pp. vi-vii)
  4. List of Abbreviations (pp. viii-viii)
  5. Introduction (pp. 1-18)

    Sam Selvon’s Henry ‘Sir Galahad’ Oliver reacts to an experience of racial abuse by turning on the colour black, divorcing himself from the pigmentation that allows him to be marked for discrimination. The pathos in this well-known scene lies with the readers’ understanding that the young migrant from Trinidad can never place himself outside of the ‘epidermal schema’ in the way he would like.² As much as the divisions of race may spring from the practice of discrimination, they become an unavoidable aspect of being for those, like Galahad, who must live within them. This study looks to a later...

  6. CHAPTER ONE Africa and Black British Identity (pp. 19-63)

    Reviewing what they saw as the increasing politicization of young black people in Britain in the early 1980s, the educational theorists Frank Reeves and Mel Chevannes identified five ‘traditions’ that provided ideological and practical resources for the articulation of political activity. These were: Black Power; Pan-African Socialism; Rastafarianism; Garveyism; and ‘Race Today-style Marxism’.¹ The relative popularity of each of these traditions and the extent to which they coherently can be separated from one another are open to debate, but it is instructive to note that each of the first four listed relies on forms of political discourse that originate outside...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Islam and Antiracist Politics (pp. 64-107)

    The Runnymede Trust’s 1997 report into prejudice and discrimination against Muslims in Britain not only popularized the term ‘Islamophobia’ but also offered a taxonomy of the various attitudes and opinions that it encompasses. These included seeing Islam as monolithic, inferior, and aggressive, and Muslims as manipulative and opposed to the ‘West’.¹ The report goes on to detail many incidents of racial violence suffered by Muslim Britons. Among the recommendations offered to the government is that legislation against racial hatred should include a specific reference to religion, suggesting that ‘the least society owes the victims is an accurate naming of the...

  8. CHAPTER THREE Multiculturalism and Ethnicity Politics (pp. 108-149)

    The increasing racial diversity of Britain since the Second World War is often captured in the idea of ‘the multicultural’, a term that gestures towards difference without needing to define how it may be managed; ‘multiculturalism’, however, speaks immediately to the problem of management, asking exactly how the difference of peoples might be philosophically, ethically, and politically addressed.¹ The multicultural can be conceived of as the totality of transactions and interchanges that take place within a society in which traces of more than one distinct cultural tradition can be discerned. Multiculturalism, on the other hand, refers to political and cultural...

  9. Conclusion (pp. 150-152)

    This study has endeavoured to explore through readings of ten recent novels by black British and British Asian writers how antiracism has determined the form and content of both political debate and individual minority identities in Britain. Antiracism refers to a broad range of discrete activities, behaviours, and attitudes which contest discriminatory practices based on racial or religious difference. Many of these facets have long histories and exist in their present forms only because of the many decades of struggle that have made them possible. The dominant mode of antiracism in Britain continues to be multiculturalism, even if it has...

  10. Notes (pp. 153-175)
  11. Bibliography (pp. 176-190)
  12. Index (pp. 191-200)