Drawing from a rich corpus of British cultural production and postcolonial theory, this book positions Brexit in the historical nexus of colonialism, colonial nostalgia, and the rise of narcissistic nationalism in contemporary Europe.
This collection moves away from existing literary discourses framing Brexit as a 'novel' event that ushered in a new genre of British fiction. It challenges the hackneyed public discourses that depict the results of the 2016 Referendum as the catalyst of regional instability as well as sociopolitical emergency in Europe. This book traces and critiques populist myth-making in the current United Kingdom through engagement with a wide range of literary and cultural productions, and reminds readers of the proleptic potential of postcolonial theorists and authors – Paul Gilroy, Austin Clarke, Mohsin Hamid, Ali Smith, to name a few – in identifying the residual ideologies of imperialism in the lead up to and after the Brexit campaign. The articles featured here extend Brexit’s figurative geography towards India, Britain, Pakistan, Ireland, Palestine, Barbados, and Eastern Europe, amongst others. They engage with films, media representations, and public discourses alongside more traditional genres such as the novel and stage productions. With a diversified approach to scholarly fields such as postcolonial literary and cultural studies, the book offers new insights into Brexit’s diverse histories not only in academic discourses, but also in the socio-political public sphere at large.
The chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue of the Journal of Postcolonial Writing.
Introduction: The colonial remains of Brexit: Empire nostalgia and narcissistic nationalism
Caroline Koegler, Pavan Kumar Malreddy and Marlena Tronicke
1. Ain’t No Black in the (Brexit) Union Jack
2. Warning Signs: Postcolonial Writing and the Apprehension of Brexit
3. Brexit literature’s present absentees: Triangulating Brexit, anti-Semitism, and the Palestinian crisis
4. ‘We are all migrants through time’: History and Geography in Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West
5. ‘Eastern Europeans’ and BrexLit
6. Imperial Pasts, Dystopian Futures, and the Theatre of Brexit
7. The Brexit within: Mapping the Rural and the Urban in Contemporary British Fiction
8. Writing Back to Brexit: Transcultural Intertextuality, Refugees, and the Colonial Archive from Chaucer to Kipling
9. (Post)colonial friendships and Empire 2.0: A Brexit reading of Victoria & Abdul
'These excellent essays are an important intervention in understanding the cultural politics of the Brexit phenomenon. Multifarious in their starting points and focus, they hone in on the cultural nostalgias, the politics of race and nation, and the long-term historical forces which have shaped the UK's departure from the European project.'
Colin Graham, Professor of English, Maynooth University, Ireland
'Drawing on fiction, film, theatre and other cultural texts, these twelve postcolonial scholars give unique insights into the resurgent colonialism and nostalgia for Britain’s imperial past that underpinned the decision to leave Europe in the 2016 Brexit referendum, and its aftermath.'
Janet Wilson and Chris Ringrose, editors, Journal of Postcolonial Writing
'An impressive lineup of young and veteran postcolonial scholars turn the outward colonial gaze inwards, resulting in an original set of perspectives on the (textual) forms and (historical) formations of Britain’s exit from the EU.'
Lars Eckstein, Professor of Anglophone Literatures Cultures, University of Potsdam, Germany