The postcolonial cultural economy: the politics of British Asian cultural production

Saha, Anamik. 2004. The postcolonial cultural economy: the politics of British Asian cultural production. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis is an investigation into the production of British Asian cultural commodities. While the hybrid qualities of contemporary British Asian vernacular cultures have largely been celebrated within cultural studies for de-essentialising fixed notions of national identity and disrupting racist nationalist discourse, the thesis considers how this political potential is determined during the process of commodification. As certain radical cultural studies theorists have argued, capitalism is inscribed with a neo-colonial logic that has the effect of transforming British Asian cultural forms in particular, into Orientalist sites of exotica, thus undermining their transcriptive capacity. Yet such accounts lack a sustained engagement with the cultural industries and cultural production, and subsequently fail to adequately explain how such a process actually occurs.

Reconceptualising commodification as a technology through which capitalism governs the counter-narratives of difference, this thesis is an empirical investigation into the experiences of British Asian cultural production in the culture industries. It focuses on the production of Asian cultural commodities in three cultural industries: theatre, broadcast television, and book publishing. Drawing from in-depth interviews, participant observation, and analysis of trade literatures, publicity materials and the commodities themselves, the research elaborates accounts of British Asian cultural production, providing a deeper and multi-layered reading of what occurs during the commodification of Otherness. It is through the concept of the postcolonial cultural economy that this thesis argues that a sociological approach to the cultural industries and cultural production, framed within postcolonial concepts of epistemology and power, is the most effective way of conceptualising the political effectiveness of particular anti-racist cultural strategies. I argue that such an approach provides a more nuanced understanding of the complex relation between capitalism and race as it occurs in the global cultural economy, revealing the spaces from which effective cultural-political interventions can be held.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

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British Asian, cultural commodities, vernacular cultures, capitalism, Orientalist, otherness, anti-racist

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Date Deposited:

26 Jul 2023 13:28

Last Modified:

08 Aug 2023 15:13


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