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Title: The idea of (un)belonging in post-1989 black British and former Yugoslav women's writing
Author: Velickovic, Vedrana
ISNI:       0000 0004 2692 8317
Awarding Body: Kingston University
Current Institution: Kingston University
Date of Award: 2010
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The idea of belonging remains highly politicised and represents a recurring thematic concern in literary works. This thesis examines its articuiations in post-1989 black British and post-Yugoslav women's writing. It focuses on Bernardine Evaristo's verse¬novel Lara (1997) and her novel-with-verse Soul Tourists (2005), Zadie Smith's White Teeth (2000), Dubravka Ugresic's novel The Ministry of Pain (2004) and her essays (1994, 1998,2003,2007), and Vesna Goldsworthy's memoir Chernobyl Strawberries (2005). Engaging with recent theories ofloss and melancholia (Cheng 2002; Boym 2002; Eng 2003; Gilroy 2004; Ahmed 2008), the thesis explores precarious nature of belonging and moments of tension and non-resolution that characterise belonging in all the examined narratives. I have coined the term '(un)belonging' in order to define the oscillations between belonging and unbelonging. As a dialectic process, (un)belonging indicates the protagonists' negotiation between the ways in which they are positioned by the hegemonic structures of belonging and their provisional locations of belonging. On whose terms this negotiation depends is precisely what is repeatedly questioned in these narratives and it is this tension which the concept of (un)belonging importantly keeps in place. My contention is that the significance of (un)belonging lies in what is less a melancholic 'inability' in these narratives to resolve cultural/personal conflicts and more a melancholic obligation to resist neat resolution of conflicts and the translation of (un)belonging into a personal/'ethnic' /cultural issue. The thesis offers new ways of reading post-1989 black British narratives and the very first discussion of Ugreäié's and Goldsworthy's narratives. The chapter structure of this thesis reflects four main areas of concern through which the four writers thematically intersect. 'Belonging and the Body' examines how (un)be1onging results from querying or hailing of belonging through 'visible' and 'audible' markers of difference and the posing of the question 'Where are you from?' . 'Belonging and Home' explores the constructions of attachments to both real and imaginary places in these narratives. 'Belonging and Movement' discusses how and to what extent (un)belonging acquires a performative and imaginative potential in order to counter the workings of hegemonic belonging and to release various burdens. 'Belonging and Memory' examines how memory functions as a foundation of belonging and considers how the past in these narratives can serve as a resource to reconsider the present. Though these narratives are primarily concerned with disrupting hegemonic forms of belonging, this thesis suggests that they also gesture towards new ways of belonging. By comparing black British and post- Yugoslav narratives, the thesis introduces post-Yugoslav/Eastern European (un)belonging into contemporary British criticism, and it also shows that black British literature with its long tradition of narratives of (un)belonging can be useful for theorising the contemporary Eastern European experience in the 'West'. The thesis makes critical interventions in literary scholarship in terms of offering new ways to theorise the bodies that continue to be marked as Eastern European, raced and migrant, and brings in some of the writers' own reflections on belonging.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Kingston University
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History