1st Edition

Narrative Projections of a Black British History

By Eva Ulrike Pirker Copyright 2011
    350 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Since the mid-1990s, the black experience in Britain has begun to be (re)negotiated intensely, with a strong focus on history. Narrative Projections of a Black British History considers narratives that construct, or engage with, aspects of a black British history. Part I poses the question of what sort of narratives have emerged from, and in turn determine, key events (such as the iconic 'Windrush' moment) and developments and provides basic insights into theoretical frameworks. It also offers a large number of comparative readings, considering both 'factual' and 'fictional' forms of representation such as history books, documentary films, life writing, novels, and drama, and identifies main strands, 'official' narratives and countercurrents. Part II embarks on close readings and analyses of a selection of narratives that can be classed as reactions to the 'established' historical culture. Overall, the book draws attention to collective currents and individual positions, affirmative and critical approaches: Together, they form a representative image of a specific moment in the ongoing debate about a black British history.

    Part I: Black Britain’s Historical Culture: Setting the Scene
    1. Introduction and Conceptual Reflections
    2. Representations of a Black History in Britain: An Overview of ‘Factual’ and ‘Fictional’ Genres
    Part II: Engaging with the Historical Culture: Reactions 
    3. Two Black British Lives: Charlotte Williams’s Sugar and Slate and Mike Phillips’s London Crossings
    4. Writing War – Writing Windrush: Andrea Levy’s Novel Small Island
    5. Artistic Historiographies between the Black Atlantic and Black Britain: Caryl Phillips’s The Atlantic Sound and Foreigners
    6. Narratives Beyond Texts
    Conclusion and Outlook


    Eva Ulrike Pirker is a lecturer of English Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Freiburg, Germany. She has published articles on literature, film and photography in the fields of postcolonial studies, migration studies and the emerging field of the study of historical culture, and has co-edited two volumes devoted to analyses of contemporary British culture (Multiethnic Britain 2000+ and Facing the East in the West: Images of Eastern Europe in British Literature, Film and Culture), but is interested in the mechanisms of cultural representation in the widest sense.

    Narrative Projections of a Black British History provides a unique and useful addition to what its author acknowledges is now a ‘thriving field’ of historical scholarship on black inhabitants of the UK…It offers a thorough study of contemporary historiography while vividly illustrating the struggle between rising public interest in black Britons and their active exclusion from historical accounts…the book as a whole is an ambitious and valuable contribution to the field it seeks to analyse.” - Malachi MacIntosh, Wasafiri