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Postcolonial Manchester

Diaspora space and the devolution of literary culture

Edited by Lynne Pearce, Corinne Fowler and Robert Crawshaw

Postcolonial Manchester

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Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8815-5
  • Pages: 352
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £65.00
  • Published Date: November 2013
  • BIC Category: United Kingdom, Great Britain, Literature: history & criticism, Literary studies: post-colonial literature, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: post-colonial literature, Ireland, Literature, LITERARY CRITICISM / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh

Description

Postcolonial Manchester offers a radical new perspective on Britain's devolved literary cultures by focusing on Manchester's vibrant, multicultural literary scene. Referencing Avtar Brah's concept of 'diaspora space', the authors argue that Manchester is, and always has been, a quintessentially migrant city to which workers of all nationalities and cultures have been drawn since its origins in the cotton trade and the expansion of the British Empire. This colonial legacy - and the inequalities upon which it turns - is a recurrent motif in the texts and poetry performances of the contemporary Mancunian writers featured here, many of them members of the city's long-established African, African-Caribbean, Asian, Chinese, Irish and Jewish diasporic communities. By turning the spotlight on Manchester's rich, yet under-represented, literary tradition in this way, Postcolonial Manchester also argues for the devolution of the canon of English Literature and, in particular, recognition for contemporary black and Asian literary culture outside of London.

Reviews

'This is an intellectually rich, inspiring and persistently readable book that manages with admirable dexterity to be many things at once: a revealing history of Manchester's quintessential diasporic condition, a critical rendering of the city's transcultural evolution, a major moment in devolving literary studies from its capital headquarters, a transformative contribution to our understanding of the North. As Postcolonial Manchester reveals, Manchester's fortunes owe as much to its central role in the industry of empire as to the demographic, migrational and multicultural changes that have produced many of Europe's urban centres as postcolonial cities. In shaping a confluent and mutually informing series of essays, the editors enable an illuminating engagement with the dizzying range of Manchester's diasporic writing across a wealth of genres, incorporating literary fiction, performance poetry, crime writing and short stories. Vital attention is paid, too, to the publishing ventures, cultural projects and key anthologies which stimulated and empowered much of the writing considered in this book. Ultimately, Postcolonial Manchester takes on the challenge, often voiced but rarely pursued, of exploring the differentiated diasporicity of Britain, while setting the highest standards for future research in this field.'
John McLeod, Professor of Postcolonial and Diaspora Literatures, University of Leeds

'This is a work of prodigious scholarship, the outcome of research of archaeological proportions as the authors have almost literally unearthed features of the literary landscape unknown to many, if not most, of us in the field. In fact, it might be true to say that they have constructed the literary landscape which will now be indelibly linked with the city. The book is a work of cultural history combined with a high level of cultural analysis, pioneering in its scholarship and path-breaking in its contribution to knowledge, not just of modern Manchester, but also of modern, multiracial Britain. At first glance, it might be thought that a book on Manchester might be parochial or only have regional appeal but the writers have produced a work with a global resonance, linking empire, slavery, migration and diaspora in a way which reveals Manchester not as a region of the United Kingdom but a space which has intersected with the world over hundreds of years. The famous music scene in Manchester is widely known but now this book makes possible the awareness of an equally vibrant literary culture.
It is a pleasure, and relief, to read a book featuring the 'postcolonial' in its title which is accessibly written, grounded in thorough empirical research, and theoretically sophisticated but without a hint of the wearisome jargon once associated with the field. I have read a fair number of books on postcolonialism but this is startlingly new and fresh in its approach, bringing together a whole range of publishing initatives, genres and outputs so often dismissed in the past as 'merely popular', and bringing them together in ways which surprise and provoke and also add to our stock of knowledge. The active use of the concept of 'neighbour', for example, in arguing for Manchester's black poets to be understood as 'indigenous British poets' is very striking and productive, and has an importance far beyond the cultural sphere as it reaches out to larger debates about the politics of belonging and Britishness now.'
Roger Bromley, author of Narratives for a New Belonging: Diasporic Cultural Fictions, and Emeritus Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of Nottingham

'This is an intellectually rich, inspiring and persistently readable book that manages with admirable dexterity to be many things at once: a revealing history of Manchester's quintessential diasporic condition, a critical rendering of the city's transcultural evolution, a major moment in devolving literary studies from its capital headquarters, a transformative contribution to our understanding of the North. As Postcolonial Manchester reveals, Manchester's fortunes owe as much to its central role in the industry of empire as to the demographic, migrational and multicultural changes that have produced many of Europe's urban centres as postcolonial cities. In shaping a confluent and mutually informing series of essays, the editors enable an illuminating engagement with the dizzying range of Manchester's diasporic writing across a wealth of genres, incorporating literary fiction, performance poetry, crime writing and short stories. Vital attention is paid, too, to the publishing ventures, cultural projects and key anthologies which stimulated and empowered much of the writing considered in this book. Ultimately, Postcolonial Manchester takes on the challenge, often voiced but rarely pursued, of exploring the differentiated diasporicity of Britain, while setting the highest standards for future research in this field.'
John McLeod, Professor of Postcolonial and Diaspora Literatures, University of Leeds

'This is a work of prodigious scholarship, the outcome of research of archaeological proportions as the authors have almost literally unearthed features of the literary landscape unknown to many, if not most, of us in the field. In fact, it might be true to say that they have constructed the literary landscape which will now be indelibly linked with the city. The book is a work of cultural history combined with a high level of cultural analysis, pioneering in its scholarship and path-breaking in its contribution to knowledge, not just of modern Manchester, but also of modern, multiracial Britain [. . .] The famous music scene in Manchester is widely known but now this book makes possible the awareness of an equally vibrant literary culture.'
Roger Bromley, author of Narratives for a New Belonging: Diasporic Cultural Fictions, and Emeritus Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of Nottingham


When we talk about Manchester, we use catchily portmanteau terms: Cottonopolis, Madchester, Gunchester and Stuart Maconie's coinage, "mills and bhuna". This terrific book deals with the ways in which all these topics have an impact on the metropolis' literary production. Indeed, the only key feature of the city not discussed here (much to my relief, after all the coverage of Sir Alex Ferguson's autobiography) is its arch-rival football teams.

Editors

Lynne Pearce is Professor of Literary Theory at Lancaster University
Corinne Fowler is Lecturer in Postcolonial Literature at the University of Leicester
Robert Crawshaw is Senior Lecturer in European Languages and Cultures at Lancaster University

Contents

Introduction: Manchester and the devolution of British literary culture - Corinne Fowler and Lynne Pearce
1. Manchester: the postcolonial city - Lynne Pearce
2. Publishing Manchester's black and Asian writers - Corinne Fowler
3. Manchester's crime fiction: the mystery of the city's smoking gun - Lynne Pearce
4. Collective resistance: Manchester's mixed-genre anthologies and short-story collections - Lynne Pearce
5. Rebels without applause: Manchester's poetry in performance (1960s - the present) - Corinne Fowler
6. Giving Voice: the writers' perspective - Robert Crawshaw
Afterword
Index

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