Asian Diaspora and Nation in Modern and Contemporary British Literature (CFP part of NeMLA)
Is the UK a country of immigration? British immigration historian Panikos Panayi says yes. Although its history and founding are not comparable to that of the United States, which is synonymous with the history of immigration, the history of Britain is also not unrelated to immigration. On the contrary, for the past 200 years, immigration has been a major driving force in history, leading to significant changes in British society. In the context of the dissolution of the British Empire and the decline of the British economy after World War II, Englishness has emerged as a public concern by British people who ask themselves, “What is British?” or “What is English?”. In this session, we will examine how immigrants have impacted reconstructing Englishness and how the lives of immigrants have been reflected in literature and film under “Englishness.” Primarily, we will focus on Asian immigrants and Englishness in the UK. Up to now, Asian writers in English have been prominent and discussed mainly within the scope of American literature, and Asian British literature studies have mainly focused on Southeast Asian writers. In this session, we will examine how Asian immigrants, focusing a little more on East Asian(Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese, and Japanese), influence the formation of Englishness, especially how their appearance has changed along with social and economic flows in Britain after the post-war and Brexit. We will also discuss current misunderstandings, distortions, and prejudices about race, gender, and immigrants.