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Forging connections: anthologies, arts collectives, and the politics of inclusion

Abram, N. L. (2020) Forging connections: anthologies, arts collectives, and the politics of inclusion. In: Nasta, S. and Stein, M. U. (eds.) The Cambridge History of Black and Asian British Writing. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 403-416.

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1017/9781108164146.026


The changing social and political landscape of twentieth-century Britain catalysed a remarkable rise in collaborative activity by artists and activists of black and Asian heritage. Creative communities began to gather in both local and regional contexts, with the aim of sharing resources and securing an audience. This chapter records some of these many activities, tracing the groups’ genesis, manifest objectives, and key contributions. It argues that anthologising should be understood as a specifically motivated activity. Literary anthologies of poetry and fiction served to showcase the diversity of contemporary writing, while also suggesting its coherence. Drawing on the concept of “strategic essentialism” elucidated by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, I show that the anthology acts to ensure the visibility of a group, bannered as a unified and singly-titled selection of texts, while also insisting on the differences within: the heterogeneous multiplicity of black and Asian British experiences and creative practices.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > English Literature
Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Identities
ID Code:72518
Publisher:Cambridge University Press


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