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Title: Locating class in multicultural Britain : a materialist reading of some contemporary British Asian and South Asian texts
Author: Ahmed, Rehana
ISNI:       0000 0004 2667 445X
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2005
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The central aim of this thesis is to locate class, or structures of power, within narratives of multicultural Britain. My contention is that a postcolonial analysis of representations of minority Britain must crucially concern itself with class in order to differentiate between the liberal multiculturalist discourse that operates within the ideological structures of capitalism and a radical discourse that critiques these structures. I focus on selected texts by five very different contemporary writers who are connected through their shared South Asian heritage: Hanif Kureishi's short novel 'Intimacy' (1998), his three collections of short stories (1997, 1999, 2002) and his semi-auto/biographical work 'Ear at his Heart: Reading my Father' (2004); Kamila Shamsie's novel 'Salt and Saffron' (2000); Amitav Ghosh's 'The Shadow Lines' (1988); Salman Rushdie's 'The Satanic Verses' (1988); and Monica Ali's 'Brick Lane' (2003). The choice of such a diverse range of texts was shaped by a concern with how cultural difference might be mediated or managed within a variety of treatments of Britain, from the cosmopolitan to the local, from the self-consciously multicultural to the predominantly monocultural. For my critique of liberal multiculturalism, I draw especially on the work of Slavoj Žižek. Following Pierre Macherey's methodology for reading, in each of my primary texts I explore a certain silence or set of silences as a means of elucidating its class position. Marxist spatial analyses, in particular Henri Lefebvre's illummation of the ideological abstraction and fragmentation of capitalist space, also provide a tool for exploring how and where social antagonisms are repressed or managed within these texts. Finally, the work of social and cultural anthropologists who are concerired with issues of race, class and religion in Britain informs this project throughout. Britain's Muslim minority and, more generally, the issue of British multiculturalism are currently at the cexrtre of urgent debate. The need to interrogate hegemonic liberal constructions of ongoing cultural tensions and controversies with a class-based understanding of multiculturalism has never appeared so acute. This thesis is an attempt to apply such an interrogation and understanding to fictional representations of multicultural Britain.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available