Redefining Britishness in Contemporary Black British Writing: British Identities and the Identity of Britain

full name / name of organization: 
contact email: 

The importance of negotiations as to what constitutes Britishness in present-day Britain can be seen in a variety of areas, from the "Britishness Test" introduced in 2005 for those who are applying for UK citizenship to scholarly works that attempt to categorize national identities or research projects such as "Britishness", undertaken by the Institute for the Public Understanding of the Past at the University of York. In a recent essay (Wasafiri, 64, Winter 2010) John McLeod has registered a pronounced shift regarding the realms of nation and identity in the approach of contemporary Black British writing or rather "contemporary black writing of Britain". McLeod's slight adjustment of terminology highlights the altered concern in recent work by black British writers, a concern that is still partly informed but no longer solely governed by issues of discrimination and racism. Unlike earlier literary endeavours produced in the wake of the first generation of immigrants into Britain and that of the tumultuous 1980's and post-1980's, which were predominantly concerned with the troublesome issues of Black British identity and the issues of race and belonging, McLeod contends that "contemporary black writing of Britain offers a revisioned articulation of the nation that is distinctly polycultural, even post-racial – one that goes beyond the affective and political concerns of black Britons and demands adoption by all kinds of British subjects" (McLeod, 51). With this perspective in mind we invite contributions which trace but also critically interrogate post-racial modes of representation and of writing the nation in recent fiction, poetry and drama by British writers of colour.

You are invited to submit a 200-word abstract directly to the convenors by 31st January, 2012.

Petra Tournay-Theodotou
European University, Cyprus

Sofía Muňoz Valdivieso
University of Málaga, Spain

The 11th ESSE conference will take place at Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey, from 4th to 8th September 2012. Further information about the
conference is available at