Social Realism and Civil Rights: Black and Asian Narratives of Survival 1959-76 Theoria Seminar

In this Theoria Seminar, Professor Chris Weedon, Cardiff University, looks at social realist writing published between 1959 and 1987 by Indian-born Kamala Markandaya (1924 to 2004), Guyanese-born ER Braithwaite (1912 to 2016) and Beryl Gilroy (1924 to 2001), and Nigerian-born Buchi Emecheta (1958 to 2016), pioneers of post-war writing who focus on the first-generation, adult, migrant experience.

These authors use realism to address the effects of the widespread culture of interpersonal and institutional racism in post-war Britain. Like later British black and Asian writers, they draw on autobiographical, family and community memories of migration and settlement. The talk highlights how thematic, contextual and stylistic correspondences emerge across a range of different writers whose primary concern is exposing the racism shaping seven decades of black and Asian experience from 1920 to the beginning of the Thatcher era in 1979. It contests any easy narrative about the struggle for a tolerant, multi-ethnic Britain, evoking a history which remains highly relevant for understanding the present.

Location: Lawson Room, Kennedy Hall

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