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Title: The rise of the 'liminal Briton' : literary and artistic productions of black and Asian women in the Midlands
Author: Ray, Sumana
ISNI:       0000 0004 2724 4507
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2011
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Black and Asians occupy an increasingly prominent position within British society today and London is considered central to the multicultural imagination of Britain. This thesis leans away from the established Londoncentric discourses and shifts spotlight specifically to the Midlands, which occupies an equivalent, if differently significant status, in terms of its multicultural status. Hegemonic notions of the dominant status of London are thus contested through the peripheral focus. The project analyses some of the regional expressions of ‘Britishness’ by women in this region as articulated in literature, film and performing arts. Interdisciplinarity is at the core of this project as it not only engages in a fusion of various disciplines within the Arts, but also invokes disciplinary boundary crossing by forging links with the Social Sciences, Anthropology in particular. In the thesis, I have introduced the concept of the ‘Liminal Briton’, using the anthropological concept of ‘liminality’ to characterise the positioning of new generation multi-ethnic Britons in contemporary British society. I argue that the postcolonial critic Homi Bhabha’s much celebrated notion of ‘hybridity’ is not adequate in capturing the heterogeneity of new generation multi-ethnic Britons. I therefore propose a perspectival shift to ‘liminality’ as a more encompassing term to define the condition of these new generation black and Asian individuals, specifically women writers and artists in the Midlands. Informed by a discussion of migration into the Midlands and analysis of some of the dominant critical discourses in post 1980s Britain in the Introduction, each of the three main chapters focus on a specific genre. Chapter 1 explores how Asian women’s agency has been represented in literature and construction of the British Asian subject is manifested in the novels of Ravinder Randhawa and Meera Syal. The ‘liminal’ spectrum has been used to identify the multiple positioning of the women protagonists in the chosen novels. The focus of Chapter 2 is the genre of short stories where a selection of short stories are analysed from the anthologies Whispers in the Walls and Her Majesty. All of these stories are literary expressions of new generation black and Asian women in the Midlands and the landscape of the region features strongly in the stories. The chapter also involves a discussion of the crucial role played by regional presses with particular emphasis on Tindal Street Press, an independent regional publisher based in the Midlands. Chapter 3 entails an exploration of artistic expressions of women, focusing on film and performing arts. In this chapter I trace the development of black British film-making in the post 1980s before moving on to a discussion of Gurinder Chadha’s film Bhaji on the Beach where ‘liminal’ Britons recognize their ‘liminality’. The ‘liminal’ space of the theatre is also examined in this chapter along with the development black and Asian women’s theatre movements in Britain. The politics of regional artistic productions is investigated through the role of regional playhouses along with the debate on the furore surrounding the staging of Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti’s play Behzti. The important and enduring outcome of this regional production is highlighted in this section. The final section of this thesis is the Conclusion which draws together and reinforces the key arguments.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HT Communities. Classes. Races ; NX Arts in general