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Contemporary asylum narratives: representing refugees in the twenty-first century

Palgrave Macmillan
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  • Q320 English Literature
  • Ecology
  • Economics
  • Law
  • Literature
  • Political Science


Contemporary Asylum Narratives explores representations of asylum seekers and refugees in contemporary British literature, film and theatre. Taking the turn of this century as a starting point, when legislation around detention, deportation and dispersal began to take effect, it identifies an emerging cultural engagement with asylum in twenty-first century Britain. Through a focus on both established authors and playwrights - Graham Swift, Caryl Phillips and Timberlake Wertenbaker - and emerging writers like Kate Clanchy and Chris Cleave, this study brings literary and cultural criticism to bear on asylum issues by exploring the representational politics that determine our responses to the stateless individuals whose numbers are set only to increase with global economic and ecological crises. Making productive links between refugee studies and narrative fiction, it challenges critical concepts related to migration such as hospitality, cosmopolitanism and globalization. In doing so, Contemporary Asylum Narratives marks a transition from older, diasporic modes of belonging to the need for identifications that account for the increasingly precarious and contingent migrations of the contemporary era.

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