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From Diaspora to Multi-Locality: Writing British-Asian Cities Drs Seán McLoughlin, William Gould, Ananya Kabir, Emma Tomalin University of Leeds www.leeds.ac.uk/writingbritishasiancities Overview • 1) From Diaspora to Multi-Local Spaces? • 2) The Network • 3) Methodological Reflections • 4) Poetics & Politics of Writing Culture • 5) Cities: Dynamics 1) From Diaspora to Multi-Local Spaces? • Study of locality & place in UK key aspects of South Asian migration since 1960s. Distinctive disciplinary traditions. Frame of nation-state. • New work on diasporic cultural production (Sharma et al, 1996). Post- colonial critique. Black Atlantic to Transl-Asia (Kaur & Kalra, 1996). • Translation creates new glocal vernacular spaces. BrAsian landscapes? Sayyid, 2006 - ‘not yet its own name’. Transformed by conjoining? • But none yet sought to reflect on the rooted dynamics of multiple BrAsian or TranslAsian locations (limits of vocabularies)… – specific localities & regions people have migrated to / from… – new circuits & imaginaries beyond multi-local nodes of diaspora. 2) The Network • To explore the divergent local, multi-local and trans-local dynamics of five ‘British-Asian’ cities • To examine changing representations of cities & (public) identities, 1960s - 2000s • To consider how written by different genres: e.g. ethnography; local/oral history; literary/cultural production; media; official reports. • To reflect upon (multi)disciplinary perspectives. • To consider differently located/empowered ‘insiders’/ ‘outsiders’, scholars/civil society/cultural /community • Steering committee including non-academics; city events in community centres & restaurants; symposium; web; book. 3) Methodological Reflections • Not new research but reflexive critiques of what already written, the discourses of representation through which power diffused & contested • Which cities / regions did we pick & why? Major conurbations of settlement. Usual suspects? Hegemony of Englishness. • Dominance of ethnic & religious groups in certain cities / parts of cities. What of minorities within minorities? • Structure of public events also created closures e.g. around gender. • Focus on English language rather than vernaculars. Marked insiders & outsiders. And different public spheres, e.g. national, diasporic, etc. • Need to probe relationship between self-positionings & perceptions of authors/artists. Authenticity? Resist or reinforce dominant discourses? 4) Poetics & Politics of Writing Culture • Changing dominant discourses about a city / region. Workshops of the world to global cities? Regeneration, riots, tourism & cohesion. • Political economy of publication, production, distribution? Markets? Audiences? ‘North-South’ divide. • Gaze, stereotype & mainstreaming in literature, film. Consuming the exotic & pushing for integration. ‘Asian cool’ v ‘war on terror’? • Who writes? Uneven. Class, gender, etc. Also, what is written & not written - sexual politics, transgressions, etc. • Beyond texts? Empowering representations of identity in diverse cultural productions & performances e.g. music, dance, art, etc. 5) Cities: Dynamics & Writing • Configuring City Dynamics? – Response to challenges of post-industrial restructuring – Size & location of city, relations to other cities – Predominance, concentration of ethnic / religious groups – Cultural capital 5) The Cities: Dynamics & Writing • Bradford: Mumtaz Restaurant – Northern wool town. Conservatism & radicalism. Mirpuris, Manningham, mobilisation. Bradford 12, Honeyford, Rushdie. • Tower Hamlets: Kobi Nazrul Centre – Eastenders in global Olympic city. Sylheti seamen & Brick Lane. Baul singers & East London mosque. GLC & after. • Greater Manchester: Indus Restaurant – North-South split: Pakistanis in cotton & the rag trade; from riots in Oldham to mixing it up on Curry Mile. • Leicester: Peepul Centre – Model of cohesion? Majority minority city. Gujeratis & East African Twice Migrants. Imperial Typewriters. Diwali & Golden Mile • Birmingham: Nishkam Centre – The second city. Bhangra & Balti. Handsworth & Sparkbrook, Punjabi Sikhs & Muslims. Indian Workers Association.
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