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History, Memory, and Multiculturalism: Representations of Muslims in Contemporary British Fiction

Kershaw, Hannah Charlotte (2017) History, Memory, and Multiculturalism: Representations of Muslims in Contemporary British Fiction. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Hannah Kershaw Final PhD September 2017.pdf - Examined Thesis (PDF)
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Abstract

In a world that is both globalised and yet deeply divided, Muslim literary studies is crucial to understanding the complex relationship between Islam and the West. It is emerging as an inevitable and insightful field of enquiry that offers analyses of the growing body of fiction that explores the Muslim experience of Britain and the US. Contemporary fiction about Muslims is receiving substantial critical attention, and through this interdisciplinary thesis I show that it can also be a useful source in political theory. I make a contribution to this field by approaching contemporary fiction about Muslims through the lens of history and memory. I do this by examining a number of novels published from 1988 to 2015 that are either written by British Muslims or offer an insightful portrayal into the lives of Muslims in Britain. In the introduction to this thesis, I outline my theoretical framework, specifically how I apply the concepts of history and cultural memory. I also discuss the interdisciplinary nature of the work, drawing connections between political research and literary analysis. In Chapter One, I explore Zadie Smith’s White Teeth and Robin Yassin-Kassab’s The Road From Damascus, showing how close encounters in multicultural spaces do not necessarily suggest successful multiculturalism due to the ongoing evocation of colonial attitudes. In Chapter Two, I discuss Nadeem Aslam’s Maps for Lost Lovers and Monica Ali’s Brick Lane. I suggest that both novels consider the importance of cultural memory in how Muslim migrants understand their British identities. Chapter Three examines Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, moving away from debates regarding Islamic history and instead making connections between British colonialism and race relations in the 1980s. My final chapter discusses Leila Aboulela’s The Kindness of Enemies and Ahdaf Soueif’s The Map of Love. I argue that both novels use the concept of genealogy, or tracing ancestors, to interrogate cross-cultural relations in a time of imperialism and state violence. Ultimately, I submit that by approaching these texts through the theoretical lens of history and memory, we can gain a greater understanding of the Muslim experience of multiculturalism.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: muslim, Islam, postcolonial, Britain, fiction, memory studies, historiography, migration, multicultural
Academic Units: The University of York > Politics (York)
Depositing User: Ms Hannah Charlotte Kershaw
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2017 08:22
Last Modified: 27 Sep 2017 08:22
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/18198

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