Funky Days are (Not) Back Again: Cool Britannia and the Rise and Fall of British South Asian Cultural Production

Saha, Anamik. 2020. Funky Days are (Not) Back Again: Cool Britannia and the Rise and Fall of British South Asian Cultural Production. Journal of British Cinema and Television, 17(1), pp. 6-23. ISSN 1743-4521 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article explores the conditions that led to the rise and fall of British South Asian cultural production. Following a high point in the 1990s when for the first time a South Asian diasporic presence was felt in British popular culture, across television, film, music, literature and theatre, Asians have now returned to the periphery of the cultural industries. But this is not a simple case of British Asians falling in and out of fashion. Rather, as this article explores, British Asian cultural producers were enabled but then ultimately constrained by shifts in cultural policy (and specifically ‘creative industries’ policy) and, more broadly, by the politics of multiculturalism in the UK and beyond. In particular, it focuses on the moment of New Labour and ‘Cool Britannia’ as a significant cultural and political moment that led to the rise and subsequent demise of British Asian cultural production. Through such an analysis the article adds to the growing body of work on race and production studies. It demonstrates the value of the historical approach, outlined by the ‘cultural industries’ tradition of political economy, which is interested in how historical forces come together to produce a particular set of institutional and social arrangements that shape the practices of British Asian creative workers. While the article foregrounds television and film, it explores the field of British Asian cultural production more broadly and, in doing so, marks the ascendency of the ‘diversity discourse’ that characterises cultural policy in the present day.

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'This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Edinburgh University Press in Journal of British Cinema and Television. The Version of Record is available online at:'


British Asians, cultural production, cultural industries, multiculturalism

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


7 May 2019Accepted
1 January 2020Published

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Date Deposited:

08 May 2019 10:15

Last Modified:

09 Jun 2021 22:45

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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