Browse results

Restricted Access

Immigrant and Ethnic-Minority Writers since 1945

Fourteen National Contexts in Europe and Beyond

Series:

Edited by Wiebke Sievers and Sandra Vlasta

This study analyses how immigrant and ethnic-minority writers have challenged the understanding of certain national literatures and have markedly changed these. In other national contexts, ideologies and institutions have contained the challenge these writers pose to national literatures. Case studies of the emergence and recognition of immigrant and ethnic-minority writing come from fourteen national contexts. These include classical immigration countries, such as Canada and the United States, countries where immigration became an issue after World War II, such as the United Kingdom, France and Germany, as well as countries rarely discussed in this context, such as Brazil and Japan. Finally, this study uses these individual analyses to discuss this writing as an international phenomenon.



Sandra R.G. Almeida, Maria Zilda F. Cury, Sarah De Mul, Sneja Gunew, Dave Gunning, Kristina Iwata-Weickgenannt, Martina Kamm, Liesbeth Minnaard, Maria Oikonomou, Wenche Ommundsen, Marie Orton, Laura Reeck, Daniel Rothenbühler, Cathy J. Schlund-Vials, Wiebke Sievers, Bettina Spoerri, Christl Verduyn, Sandra Vlasta.
Restricted Access

Series:

Wiebke Sievers and Sandra Vlasta

Abstract

This volume studies immigrant and ethnic-minority writers in fourteen national contexts from a comparative perspective. When literary scholars historicise immigrant and ethnic-minority writing in their respective national contexts, they usually only focus on how this writing has become visible and how it has come to challenge the respective national literatures; they rarely tell us why this writing has remained invisible for such a long time in many of the contexts discussed here. Yet, as soon as we move beyond national contexts, this is the first question which comes to mind: How can we explain these differences, especially between countries that have very similar immigration histories? With this question in mind, we developed a comparative framework that would bring to light both of these perspectives in each chapter. The introduction serves to explain this framework as well as the selection of countries included in this volume.

Restricted Access

Series:

Sarah De Mul

Abstract

Belgian Neerlandophone immigrant writing generally started to flourish only in the 2000s and has principally been led by second-generation Moroccan-origin authors. Research about immigrant and ethnic-minority writing, which to date is equally a borderline phenomenon, is influenced by two external traditions: research on Dutch immigrant writing and postcolonial feminist theory. Although state-sponsored efforts have been made to stimulate the burgeoning careers of ethnic-minority writers (rather than, for example, rendering the literary field structurally more inclusive), the success of these efforts seems rather limited whereas, in recent years, various literary and artistic projects were initiated by ethnic-minority artists, curators and authors outside of the established structures of the literary field. Taken together, ethnic-minority and immigrant writing and its scholarship promises to continue to develop as a steady, though thus far still rather submerged, literary trend in Flanders.

Restricted Access

Series:

Kristina Iwata-Weickgenannt

Abstract

The chapter begins by stating that, despite the presence of immigrant writers in Japan, the term ‘immigrant literature’ is exclusively used to refer to immigrant literatures in foreign countries. In contrast, the literature written by minority authors inside Japan is usually categorised according to the authors’ ethnic origin. The chapter argues that the absence of a generic term pointing to the writers’ migration experience can be related to both the heterogeneity of this relatively small group of writers, as well as to Japan’s generally rejective stance towards immigration. Both factors also explain the comparatively little scholarly attention that minority literatures have attracted so far. The chapter’s main focus is on the literature of ethnic Koreans in Japan, which dates back to the colonial period (1910–45) and which, thanks to its literary importance, has been studied since around 1980. In addition, recent trends in research on first-generation foreign-born authors are outlined.

Restricted Access

Series:

Christl Verduyn

Abstract

Immigrant and ethnic-minority writing in Canada engages the enduring question of what comprises Canadian identity and reflects the country’s history and policies on immigration and multiculturalism, the evolving demographics of the population and, since 1980, the critical, social and intellectual movements of feminism, anti-racism, (post)colonialism, transculturalism, transnationalism and globalism. The distinction between Canadian literature and Québécois literature adds complexity to the discussion of immigrant and ethnic-minority literature in Canada; for historical linguistic and cultural reasons, the two traditions have developed separately, in different languages and in relation to different concerns. At the same time, Canada’s history as a colonial settler nation has linked immigrant and ethnic-minority experience with that of Indigenous peoples, such that it is impossible to discuss these experiences separately. Immigrant and ethnic-minority writing in Canada constantly questions the concepts, categories, theories and terms used to describe it, including the conceptual category of immigrant and ethnic-minority writing itself.

Restricted Access

Series:

Daniel Rothenbühler, Bettina Spoerri and and Martina Kamm

Abstract

Switzerland has been an immigration country for more than 100 years. Writers with migrant backgrounds who write in German or French first received public attention in the 1980s. They have become more numerous and more visible since 2000, with some receiving important literary prizes. Swiss literary scholarship has reacted hesitantly to this new writing. The first research initiatives go back to international conferences and publications, more often than not held and published in German than in French. Since concepts and approaches were adopted from related studies in Germany and France, research initially developed differently in the two languages. After 2000, important impulses came from Anglo-Saxon postcolonialism. Research has since turned to issues of hybridisation and universalisation in texts written in both German and French. Nevertheless, Swiss academia has not yet come to regard the fact that literatures in Switzerland have become transcultural as an opportunity for moving beyond traditional academic boundaries.

Restricted Access

Series:

Sandra Vlasta and and Dave Gunning

Abstract

Immigrant and ethnic-minority writing has been highly visible for a long time in the United Kingdom. Still, scholarship has focused on authors whose backgrounds can be traced to Africa, South Asia or the Caribbean (and thus to the former colonies). Scholars have frequently read their works in relation to debates on race and multiculturalism, and posited them as a continuing political struggle by other means. More recently, scholarship is increasingly concerned with the aesthetics of this writing and has acknowledged that its political aims are inseparable from its artistic achievement. Furthermore, British immigrant and ethnic-minority writing and its critical reception are closely connected to the development of postcolonial criticism. Lately, literary critics as well as the publishing industry and the reading public have started to address the authors as British writers rather than as African, South Asian or Caribbean ones. These developments have also been made a topic in literary studies.

Restricted Access

Series:

Wiebke Sievers and and Sandra Vlasta

Abstract

In Germany, interest in immigrant and ethnic-minority writing first arose in the 1980s, when the writers themselves called attention to their works. Academic institutions have been active in supporting their first writing endeavours, amongst others by establishing, in 1985, the Adelbert-von-Chamisso Prize which was awarded annually up to 2017. Early research on immigrant literature was characterised by inventory-taking. The texts tended to be read as socio-historical documents rather than as literary texts. In the 1990s, the research focus shifted to analyses of single authors and the interest in German-Turkish literature grew. Moreover, works by immigrant writers were eventually perceived as literary texts and analysed accordingly. Impulses for theoretical approaches came from scholars abroad, who were the first to read these texts with postcolonial, post-structural or feminist theories. From the late 1990s, immigrant writing has been located in a German tradition which has come to be discussed in more transnational terms.

Restricted Access

Series:

Sneja Gunew and Wenche Ommundsen

Abstract

While Australia is a settler-colonial nation built on immigration, the category ‘migrant literature’ (or, more commonly, ‘multicultural literature’) has largely been reserved for writers of non-Anglo-Celtic background, and its integration into Australian literature has been slow and contested. This chapter traces the history of multicultural writing in English in relation to the cultural politics of Australia over the last four decades, along with its critical reception and theoretical framing. Virtually invisible within the canon of Australian literature until the 1980s, multicultural writers have gradually received greater recognition and some are now regarded as part of the mainstream literary tradition. However, while the critical focus on Australian literature has shifted from national to transnational, multicultural writing in global languages other than English has barely been analysed. We argue that residual resistance to cultural diversity still prevents many writers from receiving the critical recognition they deserve.

Restricted Access

Series:

Wiebke Sievers

Abstract

This chapter analyses immigrant and ethnic-minority writing as an international phenomenon. It first discusses the marginalisation of this writing in nationalised literatures. Subsequently, it explains how this marginalisation was overcome and how immigrant and ethnic-minority writing came to be regarded as a vanguard of cultural change. This process began in the 1960s in Anglophone contexts and, over the last 50 years, has reached first the larger, then the smaller European literatures, as well as those of Brazil and Japan. The chapter regards this process as having been set off by the same trigger in all the national contexts discussed here – the new ideology of equality of all peoples and races established after World War II. Moreover, it shows that the recognition of this literature was achieved faster in those contexts where equal rights for all people have become inscribed into the legal framework and the national imaginary.