The geographies of multiculturalism: Britishness, normalisation and the spaces of the Tate Gallery

Morris, Andy (2002). The geographies of multiculturalism: Britishness, normalisation and the spaces of the Tate Gallery. PhD thesis The Open University.



This thesis examines the geographies of multiculturalism and their relationship to notions of Britishness through the example of the Tate Gallery. The evaluation of multiculturalism here reflects on the way it has been subject to various contentions of cultural politics and how it has operated through processes of normalisation. Central to my consideration of the politics of multiculturalism and the argument I wish to make about its normalisation, is an emphasis on the importance of critically evaluating the way cultures are understood. This critical engagement places particular importance on the tracing of multicultural histories and the ways in which Britishness has often been constructed in order to 'cover over' or 'hide' its multicultural constitution. In several ways, I also take issue with the broad argument that multiculturalism has tended to perpetuate constructions of 'the other' which homogenise and reify, and in doing so I examine the role of power within the normalisation process. The Tate Gallery has been used in order to articulate these issues in both an historical and contemporary context, drawing on constructions of Britishness from different periods, such as the time of the gallery's original inception in the late nineteenth century, the period between the world wars and the recent articulations of Britishness through the political rhetoric of New Labour. As well as tracing multiple periods in time, another central issue has been to demonstrate the ways Britishness is constituted by multiple spaces. In this sense I have used the concept of networks of time-space and alluded to notions of movement, connection and circulation in articulating the dynamic nature of temporal and spatial relations. The Tate Galleries in London, Liverpool and St Ives have provided an intriguing focus of analysis in this sense, enabling me to demonstrate the strengths of thinking about the relations between the spaces of the Tate Gallery

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