Introduction

Nasta, Susheila and Stein, Mark U. (2020). Introduction. In: Nasta, Susheila and Stein, Mark U. eds. The Cambridge History of Black and Asian British Writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1–22.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108164146.002

Abstract

This introduction discusses the conceptual and theoretical framework of The Cambridge History of Black and Asian British Writing, explaining the rationale behind its both linear and lateral structure as well as the selection of its contents. Flagging the difficulties of attempting to contain and articulate such an extensive, variegated, and still emerging field within ‘one’ history, it points to the complex historical and cultural pathways that have conditioned how the different strands of black and Asian writing have evolved. Written to provide readers with a cultural compass to map the often unstable political and historical contexts by which these literatures have variously been framed and named, it points to significant markers and milestones, contiguities and contingencies, which characterise the four centuries of black and Asian writing that this volume covers. One of the challenges of creating such a retrospective history has been to look both backwards and forwards, creating new literary vistas from what have often been limited critical frameworks and reductive political contextualisations.

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