Black British Culture and Society: A Text-Reader

Black British Culture and Society: A Text-Reader

Black British Culture and Society: A Text-Reader

Black British Culture and Society: A Text-Reader


Black British Culture and Society brings together in one indispensable volume key writings on the Black community in Britain, from the 'Windrush' immigrations of the late 1940s and 1950s to contemporary multicultural Britain. Combining classic writings on Black British life with new, specially commissioned articles, Black British Culture and Society records the history of the post-war African and Caribbean diaspora, tracing the transformations of Black culture in British society. Black British Culture and Society explores key facets of the Black experience, charting Black Britons' struggles to carve out their own identity and place in an often hostile society. The articles reflect the rich diversity of the Black British experience, addressing economic and social issues such as health, religion, education, feminism, old age, community and race relations, as well as Black culture and the arts, with discussions of performance, carnival, sport, style, literature, theatre, art and film-making. The contributors examine the often tense relationship between successful Black public figures and the media, and address the role of the Black intellectual in public life. Featuring interviews with noted Black artists and writers such as Aubrey Williams, Mustapha Matura and Caryl Phillips, and including articles from key contemporary thinkers, such as Stuart Hall, A. Sivanandan, Paul Gilroy and Henry Louis Gates, Black British Culture and Society provides a rich resource of analysis, critique and comment on the Black community's distinctive contribution to cultural life in Britain today.


This book features representative essays and new scholarship in Black British cultural studies as an introduction to this emergent and increasingly popular field of study. The impetus to this intellectual project, contemporary in its immediate concerns, yet passionately historical with its engagement of the past, lies primarily in an eclectic variety of factors associated with recent ontological and paradigmatic shifts in many academic disciplines. These factors partly reflect the impact of cultural studies, which on some traditional fields like sociology, literature and political science has been significant.

In many ways, cultural studies, the discursive ambit from which ‘Black British “cultural” studies’ has emerged, has itself been incredibly adept in reinventing critical traditions within its constantly expanding field—that is, constituting and reconstituting its objects of study and methodologies through borrowings from other sources and fields of study. Consequently, Black British cultural studies shares the legacy of its philosophical and theoretical borrowings.

These borrowings have ranged over a wide variety of intellectual sources, including; Althusser’s structuralism imported into Marxism (Althusser 1968, 1969); Saussure’s semiotics (Saussure 1974); Freudian psychoanalysis (Freud 1954); the range of feminist discourses on social theory and sexual politics including Weeks (1981), De Beauvoir, Firestone (1970), Rich (1977); Gramsci’s reformulation of orthodox Marxian understandings of the state and civil society (Gramsci 1971); and the postmodernists—Foucault (1978, 1980, 1989), Baudrillard (1977, 1983), Derrida (1982, 1992), Lyotard (1984) and Fukuyama (1992). Add to these sources the rich tradition of critical writings on British postwar society as a result of cultural studies itself being a British invention: writings by Richard Hoggart (1957), Raymond Williams (1958, 1961), E.P. Thompson (1968), Stuart Hall (1958, 1964, 1967, 1976), Paul Willis (1977), David Morley (1980), Phil Cohen (1972), Dick Hebdige (1979) and Angela McRobbie (1978), to name but a few of the key contributors.

This impressive legacy has been useful in mapping out the broad theoretical and ideological terrain within which Black British cultural studies has functioned as a critical discourse. Paradoxically, it has also proved to be its point of departure as the new discourse has engaged questions raised by the Black experience in postwar Britain, and indeed new configurations of racial politics from around the world. Significantly, the problematization of the Eurocentrism of much of the work in the field through new dialogues on ‘race’, nation, identity, post-coloniality, transnationalism, globalization etc., mostly initiated by a variety of new writers, many of whom are

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