Paper: “Living, dead, zombie, re-animator? British multiculturalism since July 2005″


sugarhill1Following on from the “Britishness in the 21st Century” conference at Keele University last month, I have finally uploaded my presentation slides on Issuu.

My paper was called “Living, dead, zombie, re-animator? British multiculturalism since July 2005″ and the slides can be viewed here.

For those interested, I will be looking to publish the paper sometime in the future so for now, I’ve pasted the abstract below:

Notions of Britain’s multiculturalism – as also the attitudes associated with it – have undergone significant change since 2005. On 6 July 2005, Britain’s multiculturalism – conveniently conceived by the London-focused slogan, ‘the world in one city’ – was the vibrant and living premise upon which the London 2012 Olympics team successfully won the Games for the capital. A day later, the 7 July 2005, this changed somewhat. Following a series of coordinated suicide bomb attacks on the London public transport system, the political and social handwringing which ensued initiated a period when much was made about the alleged ‘death of multiculturalism’. Whilst proclaimed dead, many did not believe that Britain’s multiculturalism had met a natural death: for them, it was Muslims – ‘the homegrown bombers’ as indeed numerous others – that had brought about multiculturalism’s untimely demise. Focusing on the period of time bounded by the events of July 2005 and the London Olympics in the summer of 2012, this paper will consider the emergent social and political debates to explore the extent to which: multiculturalism remains valid; Britain’s Muslim communities became implicated and blamed; the impact on Britain’s unequivocal ‘factual’ multiculturalism; and what this means about Britishness in the 21st century especially as regards to who might be included/excluded. Exploring the narratives associated with multiculturalism’s metamorphosis, this paper will trace these through various stages of being alive, dead and ‘undead’, the latter specifically referencing Paul Gilroy’s ‘zombie multiculturalism’ lecture at the London School of Economics in June 2012. In conclusion, this paper will reflect on the spectacle of the London Olympics as an, at times, unabashed celebration of Britain’s multiculturalism and thereby its catalytic nature for re-animating both multiculturalism as indeed wider understandings of Britishness. Acknowledging the cinematic vision of the London 2012 Olympics bid, the atrocities of 7/7 as examples of ‘natural horror’, and Gilroy’s utilisation of the ‘zombie’ analogy, this paper will employ metaphors from across the horror and zombie genres as a means of conceptual illustration and elaboration.

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