Multiculturalism and magic realism? Between fiction and reality

Thesis (M.A.) 2005 136 Pages

English Language and Literature Studies - Literature



1. Introduction

2. Great Britain and Immigration
2.1 Britain and Colonialism
2.2 White Teeth and Immigration
2.2.1 The History of Jamaica
2.2.2 The History of Bangladesh
2.2.3 The History of Jews in Britain
2.2.4 Reasons for Immigration
2.2.5 Effects of Immigration on Britain

3. Definitions and Theories
3.1 Postcolonialism
3.1.1 The Development of Postcolonialism
3.1.2 Different Aspects of Postcolonialism
3.1.3 Postcolonialism and Postmodernism What is Postmodernism? The Crisis of Authority
3.1.4 Postcolonialism and White Teeth
3.2 Multiculturalism
3.2.1 Definitions What is Multiculturalism? Prescriptive and Descriptive Multiculturalism Ethnic Minorities and Ethnicity
3.2.2 Origins of Multiculturalism
3.2.3 Implementation of a Multicultural Policy
3.2.4 Multiculturalism: A Blessing or a Curse? Positive Aspects of Multiculturalism Criticism
3.2.5 The Current Situation of Multiculturalism in Britain
3.2.6 Multiculturalism and Postcolonialism
3.3 Magic Realism: Between Fiction and Reality
3.3.1 What is Magic Realism?
3.3.2 The Development of Magic Realism
3.3.3 Features and Effects of Magic Realism
3.3.4 Magic Realism and (Post)Colonialism Special Features of Magic Realism in Connection with (Post)colonialism Magic Realism and Hybridity
3.3.5 Magic Realism and Postmodernism
3.3.6 Hysterical Realism
3.4 Edward Said’s Orientalism
3.4.1 Introduction
3.4.2 The Influence of Foucault and Gramsci
3.4.3 Definitions of Said’s Orientalism
3.4.4 West versus East Western Attitudes towards the East The Dangerous East Consequences of the East-West Division of the World
3.4.5 The Future of Orientalism
3.5 Homi Bhabha’s Concept of Hybridity
3.5.1 Introduction to Hybridity
3.5.2 History of the Term 'Hybridity'
3.5.3 Michail Bakhtin’s Influence on Homi Bhabha
3.5.4 Hybridity Third Space Ambivalence Otherness Colonial Mimicry
3.5.5 Criticism

4. Multiculturalism in White Teeth
4.1 The Quest for Identity
4.1.1. Samad Iqbal
4.1.2 Alsana Iqbal
4.1.3 The Twins Magid and Millat Magid Iqbal Millat Iqbal
4.1.4 Irie Jones
4.1.5 The Chalfens
4.1.6 Different Ways of Living in Multicultural Britain
4.2 The Representation of London in White Teeth
4.2.1 Immigrants in Great Britain and its Capital Willesden Green and the North London Borough of Brent Multiculturalism and Hybridity in Willesden Green
4.2.2 White Teeth: The Contemporary London of the 21st Century
4.3 Racism in White Teeth
4.3.1 Stereotypes An Introduction to Stereotypes Characteristics of Stereotypes National Stereotypes Racist Stereotypes
4.3.2 Racism: British People – "Immigrants” Daily Racism Racism at School Racism at Work
4.3.3 Racism amongst "Immigrants” The Chalfen Family Family Iqbal versus Family Jones
4.3.4 The Impact of Racism on the Immigrants‘ Lives
4.3.5 Conclusion: Between Optimism and Pessimism

5. Magic Realism - Between Fiction and Reality
5.1 Magic and Unbelievable Elements
5.2 Realistic Elements and Historical Events
5.3 Style of the Novel
5.3.1 Narrator and Narrative
5.3.2 Structure
5.3.3 Language
5.3.4 Humour
5.3.5 Intertextuality
5.3.6 Title
5.3.7 Hysterical Realism
5.4 Conclusion: White Teeth and Magic Realism

6. Conclusion

7. Endgames

8. Bibliography
8.1. Text
8.2. Secondary Works

1. Introduction

Since the 1970s, there has been an increasing concern with the impact of colonialism and postcolonialism[1] on British[2] identities and culture and the influence that the former British Empire[3] had and still has on people in the former colonies and in Britain today[4]. Novels like Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children[5] or The Satanic Verses[6], Hanif Kureishi’s The Buddha of Suburbia[7], Meera Syal’s Anita and Me[8], Timothy Mo’s Sour Sweet[9], Sam Selvon’s The Lonely Londoners[10] and Monica Ali’s Brick Lane[11] along with films like Bend it like Beckham[12] or TV series like The Kumars at No. 42[13] and Da Ali G Show[14] exemplify this rather new phenomenon and its world-wide[15] success. They are representative of a large group of multicultural[16] novels and productions created during the last few decades. Although multiculturalism is not new in the media, there has been a special boom of writers of the "empire within"[17] during the last ten years.

Zadie Smith, the author of White Teeth[18], not wanting to be part of this trend, just wanted to write a funny novel whose protagonists were not solely white. As White Teeth combines well multiculturalism, magic realism[19] and the search for identity, the novel has been chosen for this thesis.

For Smith, multiculturalism in London is nothing new; it is the norm or, as Zadie Smith explains herself: "I wasn’t trying to write about race. I was trying to write about the country I live in."[20] However, the book became one of the best novels dealing with multiculturalism[21]. It was translated into more than twenty languages[22] and it was adapted for the screen by Channel 4 for a television series[23]. The novel won several prizes and awards, among them the Whitbread First Novel Award, the Guardian First Book Prize, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction, two Ethnic and Multicultural Media Awards and the Los Angeles Times Book Awards, to name but a few[24].

Zadie Smith was born in the north-west London borough of Brent in 1975[25]. Being the daughter of a black[26] Jamaican mother and a white English father, she grew up in the multicultural community of Willesden and still lives there[27]. Her novel is set mostly in this area which will be described in more detail in one of the following chapters[28]. White Teeth is the first novel from this young writer and has been praised by readers and critics alike for its themes, humour and magic, its various characters and the multicultural presentation of Britain’s capital.

The main protagonist of her second novel called The Autograph Man[29] is a Chinese-Jewish autograph dealer. The novel is set in London and New York and deals with identity, idols, pop culture and religion[30].

White Teeth, which appeared in the spring of 2000[31], is the story of three families from three different cultural backgrounds, the British-Jamaican Jones, the Bangladeshi Iqbals and the Jewish-Catholic Chalfens, set mainly in multicultural London and told mainly between 1974 and 1999 but also during the Second World War and before. All in all, there is a time span of 143 years in the novel[32]. The literary genre of White Teeth is magic realism[33]. As the plot of the novel is quite complex and long, a brief summary of it is necessary in order to familiarise the reader with the main events and the relation between the characters.

The English Archie Jones wants to commit suicide after the divorce from his Italian wife Ophelia but is saved by the halal butcher Mo. Afterwards, he meets the Jamaican Clara Bowden at a Jehovah’s Witness party and marries her a short time later. Archie’s friend Samad Iqbal from Bangladesh, whom he met in a British tank during the Second World War somewhere in Bulgaria, immigrates to London with his wife Alsana. Samad and Alsana have twins, Millat an Magid, and the Jones a daughter called Irie. The children become friends and share the experience of growing up as second-generation immigrants in multicultural London. In the process of the plot, Magid is sent to Bangladesh in order to become a good Muslim, Irie falls in love with Millat who becomes a fundamentalist. The whole story gets even more complex when the white middle class Chalfens are introduced who behave like colonisers with their arrogance and intolerance. In the end, all three families are united by the project of the geneticist Marcus Chalfen and themes like history, fate, religion and identity are intertwined.

The first part of this thesis provides an overview of the former British Empire, the Commonwealth and the history of Bangladesh, Jamaica and the Jews in England as relevant to White Teeth. The role of the (former) centre of London[34], also important for the analysis of the novel, is presented as well. Subsequently, definitions and postcolonial theories shall be discussed which will be used in the following analysis..

The focus of the main part of this paper is on life in multicultural London for first and second generation immigrants as it is presented in the novel. The main aspects analysed in these chapters deal with identity, the location of the novel and racism. Another aim of the thesis is a comparison between the fictional world of White Teeth and reality as another chapter is going to deal with the question of magic realism and the novel's position between two worlds.

In a summary of the most important aspects, the writer of this paper hopes to convince the readers of the fascination felt when reading the novel and when plunging into the buzzing streets of contemporary multicultural London.

2. Great Britain and Immigration

Immigration to Great Britain is not a new phenomenon. The flow of ethnic groups, from which the present British population originates, has a long history and the country has seen waves of immigration of different ethnic groups for centuries. Invaders like the Anglo-Saxons and Normans successively populated the country as well as the Irish, for example, as a result of the famines in Ireland in the 19th century. This has to be kept in mind when talking about immigration to Britain – the population as it is composed today is the result of centuries of immigration.

The success of the novel considered in this thesis cannot be understood without any knowledge of the history of immigration and certain ethnic minorities[35] in Britain, especially since the end of World War II[36], as the themes dealt with in the book are closely interlinked with that period of British history. This chapter will give an overview of selected aspects of this phenomenon[37].

2.1 Britain and Colonialism

Because of its period of colonial expansion, Great Britain has had, for several centuries, a tradition of immigration which is nowadays shown in its multicultural population[38]. But what happened during the period of colonialism so that it resulted in cultural pluralism in Britain?

Colonialism refers to the seizure of foreign territories by imperial powers like Britain. The inhabitants of these countries are either expelled or suppressed, the land populated with colonisers and the economy exploited. The political power of the colonisers expands to their colonies and the colonisers decide on political issues, the education system and culture. The traditions of the local people are often forbidden or alienated.

Britain expanded its territories and colonies overseas from the 16th century with a climax at the end of the 19th century[39]. Independence began mainly after World War II when most British possessions were decolonised and founded their own states afterwards[40]. As a consequence, the Empire[41] came completely to an end in the 1960s[42]. But most of the former colonies now belong to the Third World[43] and are members of the Commonwealth of Nations, a voluntary association of 49 independent states which has evolved from the former British Empire[44]. Its aims are to aid these countries, the promotion of international understanding, mutual co-operation and consultation among governments and scientific co-operation[45]. Although there are no obligations concerning the education systems in the former colonies, there is a common tradition of the English language instruction at school[46].

2.2 White Teeth and Immigration

As White Teeth is mainly the story of immigrants from the former colonies Bangladesh and Jamaica, which are both today Commonwealth member states, and of Jews from Poland, the following chapter deals with a short overview of the history of these countries and Jews in England as relevant to the novel.

2.2.1 The History of Jamaica

Irie, one of the main characters of the novel, is half-Jamaican and half-English. Her Jamaican mother Clara, the island, its history and people play a crucial role in White Teeth. Jamaica is the third largest island in the Caribbean Sea with approximately 2.6 million inhabitants and its capital is called Kingston[47]. The island became independent on August 6 1962[48]. Queen Elizabeth II is head of state in Jamaica[49] and due to the British influence during colonialism, its official language is English[50]. Jamaican Common Law is also influenced by the British system[51]. Over 97% of the population are Blacks and mulattos; the remainder are mainly Indians, Whites and Chinese and the majority of Jamaicans are Protestants[52].

The island was discovered by Christopher Columbus on 3 May 1494[53] but conquered by the English under Admiral Sir William Penn in 1655[54]. It became one of the largest American markets for the slave trade at the end of the 17th century but the slaves were liberated in 1834[55]. After several mutinies, it became a crown colony[56] at the end of the 19th century[57]. The constitutions of 1944 and 1953 set up complete self-government and in 1958, Jamaica joined the Federation of the West Indies[58] but opted out in 1961[59]. On 6 August 1962, the country became an independent member of the Commonwealth[60].

2.2.2 The History of Bangladesh

The Bangladeshi Muslim Samad and his wife Alsana, also from Bangladesh, along with their twin sons, who were born in London, are major characters in the book. Concerning the history of Bangladesh, one has to look first at India and Pakistan. From about 1940 on, the Moslem League in India Worked for the creation of Pakistan[61]. This was especially the case in the mainly Moslem-inhabited parts of India and their aim was achieved against the strong opposition of the Indian National Congress on 15 August 1947 when India was partitioned[62]. The principally Hindu West stayed with India and the mainly Islamic part of Bengal[63] came to Pakistan[64] and formed East Pakistan[65]. Starting in the mid 1960s, people became dissatisfied with the central Pakistani government in West Pakistan and demanded independence[66]. With the help of India, East Pakistan, which was then called Bangladesh, seceded from Pakistan as an independent republic on 16 December 1971 and was recognised by Britain on 4 February 1972[67]. It became a member of the Commonwealth on 18 April 1972[68]. The official language is Bengali[69] but English is used for business. The state religion is Islam[70] and the capital is Dacca[71]. The country is often the victim of monsoons, tropical tornadoes and floods[72]. The inhabitants are mainly Bengalis and head of state is the president[73]. The country has an important port in Chittagong[74].

2.2.3 The History of Jews in Britain

Jews[75] from Eastern Europe, also play an important role in White Teeth as the only white family is Jewish-Catholic. They started to arrive in 1700[76] and after 1850, immigration was increasing from Eastern Europe although they had to endure periods of anti-Semitism in England[77]. However, the Jewish Relief Act in 1858 guaranteed them full emancipation[78]. The first mass emigration from Eastern Europe took place between 1881 and 1914. Many Jews wanted to leave the Russian Empire[79] after Czar Alexander II was assassinated in 1881 and pogroms started in Eastern European countries against the Jewish population[80]. Most Jews went to the British capital and began moving to north-west London[81] by the 1870s and later on to the East End[82]. Because of the high immigration by Jews, the Aliens Immigration Act of 1905 was introduced to restrict the numbers[83]. Due to anti-Semitism in central Europe, even more Jewish immigrants came to Britain during the Second World War.

2.2.4 Reasons for Immigration

Britain and especially London, the former centre of the Empire, became multicultural mainly by the arrival of immigrants who left their countries, mostly for political, demographic or economic reasons, in the search for freedom and a better standard of living[84]. Some general push-factors[85] are political suppression, war, persecution, poverty, bad working conditions and natural disasters[86]. Pull-factors[87] include religious and political freedom, a larger job market, better living conditions and financial gain[88]. People from former colonies were especially attracted by London and Britain in general as they had already a special cultural, political and economic relationship to it.

The immigrants in White Teeth came to Britain mainly after World War II and reasons for immigration after 1945 were various. In the aftermath of the war, Britain itself encouraged labourers from overpopulated and underemployed Commonwealth countries to immigrate because it needed cheap workers to fill the heavy labour shortage in semi-skilled and non-skilled vacancies, to rebuild the war-shattered economy and to reconstruct the country[89]. Most of the immigrants worked in the National Health Service, public transport or in the manufacturing service[90]. Many of them got only low-paid manual jobs[91] and became victims of discriminatory practices[92]. Their influx was increasingly made difficult, when the voices against such immigrants grew stronger.

2.2.5 Effects of Immigration on Britain

British society has undergone a considerable change of its composition in the past fifty years. One of the major reasons for the relatively sudden commencement of colonial immigration was the changing relationship between the centre of the former Empire and its periphery[93] due to the process of decolonisation and labour shortage in Britain. Unexpected high numbers of immigrants came to Great Britain from the 1950s onward[94]. The traditional population, which had been rather homogeneous until then, was confronted with people from former colonies and whose identities seemed anything but British. Since then, the proportion of non-white Britons in the population has risen steadily. Unfortunately, the rise of foreigners has from its start on been regarded as a problem[95]. This problem is called "an inheritance of empire"[96]. The Empire is said to be "striking back"[97] and haunts Britain with its legacy. The negative reception which the immigrants experienced can be explained by Britain’s imperial past and the British feeling of superiority[98]. The Empire affected Britain’s identity and society as it helped to define Britishness[99] and the British were proud of it[100]. Due to "the voyage in"[101] of thousands of immigrants, the national self-image of a white British nation became more and more problematic. At present, British self-understanding is undergoing a shift away from the traditional viewpoint to an awareness of changed circumstances.

The British immigration policy since 1945 was subjected to many changes during the following years. In 1948, the British Nationality Act came into existence which provided the free entry to people from the former colonies to Great Britain but it was reconsidered in the 1950s and in 1962, a law that restricted entry was passed, followed by a second one in 1968[102]. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, many different Race Relations Acts[103] were passed in order to control immigration and to fight against discrimination. This led to a near standstill of immigration but the number of non-white inhabitants did not decline due to the fact that more than half of them were children and grandchildren of first generation immigrants born in Great Britain. But it was these immigrants who started the transformation of Britain and especially of London into the multicultural society it is nowadays.

3. Definitions and Theories

Before going on with the main part of this thesis, some important concepts and definitions shall be presented which are crucial in understanding the following analysis of the novel. As many countries like Britain, the USA and France, which had a colonial past, have developed into multicultural societies in the period of postcolonialism, the concepts of postcolonialism and multiculturalism shall be discussed as they go hand in hand[104]. Besides that, two of the most important and influential theorists of postcolonial studies, Homi Bhabha and Edward Said, and their ideas shall be presented.

Although the field of theories and ideas concerning postcolonialism is large, the following chapters can only give a very short and general overview of the most influential representatives and concentrate on the ones who are more relevant to the novel.

3.1 Postcolonialism

Postcolonialism[105] is a literary, cultural, political and intellectual movement of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Its theories and representatives form a vast and still relatively new field of studies from which just a very small part can be presented in the following chapter[106].

White Teeth can be read as a postcolonial novel as it speaks of race and multiculturalism in postcolonial London[107]. Its characters are concerned with questions of history, inheritance and identity which are commonly found in postcolonial literature[108]. Therefore, postcolonialism shall be presented in the following chapters.

3.1.1 The Development of Postcolonialism

As (post)colonialism has influenced and still[109] influences the majority[110] of the countries in the world, it is not surprising that a huge number of different theories exist that vary from their point of view, their cultural background and country of origin[111]. Therefore, it has become difficult to define the term and it is easier to regard it as a collective term for many different ideas.

But this field of study is not so popular for its variety of theories but rather because of the impact colonialism still has on the contemporary world. This field of study is a reaction to colonialism and wants to distance itself from this period[112]. Postcolonialism still exists and aims for a world-wide emancipation from colonialism as the prefix post already implies[113]. This prefix reflects the period after colonialism as the Latin word post means 'after' or 'afterwards'. The term with a hyphen is a temporal marker of the decolonising process and refers to the time of independence from the colonisers[114]. However some critics regard the term without a hyphen as a sign for a process which already started during colonialism, namely the constant attempt to come to terms with the colonial system[115]. Without hyphen, it is more sensitive to the long history of colonial consequences[116].

Postcolonialism in general deals with the coming to terms with colonialism, with the differences between the former metropolitan centre and its periphery as well as with the efforts made by the former colonies in the struggle for independence[117]. The consequences of colonialism and the colonial heritage like European languages, education systems, ways of thinking as well as cultural elements are also dealt with in many postcolonial theories as "the country over which the breath of the West, heavily charged with scientific thought, has once passed, and has, in passing left an enduring mark, can never be the same as it was before"[118].

Although more and more works on this topic are published nowadays, some of the theories dealing with postcolonialism date from further back. It can be said that this field of studies, which developed in the 1960s and 1970s with a climax in the 1980s, was influenced by poststructuralism[119] and showed affinities to postmodernism[120]. Edward Said’s Orientalism[121] was published in 1978 and he was influenced by the French philosopher Michel Foucault[122]. Another early theorist is Franz Fanon[123] who published his first works in the 1960s[124]. Together with Said, the literary critics Homi K. Bhabha and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak[125] belong to the most influential in this field of study[126].

But besides these critics, there are also, as mentioned in the introduction, more and more authors from the former colonies or with a (post)colonial background, who have a great influence on world literature and are on the way to change it by creating characters with (post)colonial lives or problems just like the writers themselves had or still have. With works like The Empire Writes Back[127], it becomes clear that authors from the other side of the world try to influence the European literary canon[128] which has been dominant until now.

3.1.2 Different Aspects of Postcolonialism

Postcolonial literary theories and postcolonial writers differ from their field of interests and from country to country[129]. Some emphasise the (anti-)colonial discourse[130], others the phenomenon of transcultural hybridity or on the effects of colonialism on both the coloniser and the colonised and problems of the individual in a constantly changing environment[131]. Another important aspect is the independence of the colonies which has started a global migration, especially from the Third World countries whose citizens emigrate in particular to the former centres of the empires, where they become ethnic minorities[132] and change the centres in a multicultural sense. As a consequence, the conflicts that were found in the periphery before are then brought to the centres which become then postcolonial[133]. Other theories try to explain historical and other conditions of its emergence as well as its consequences for the contemporary world.

As can be seen by these various aspects of postcolonial studies, it is difficult to give one definition for postcolonialism that shares all thoughts or, as Ashcroft and his colleagues say in connection with their book The Empire Writes Back: "This book is concerned with writing by those peoples formerly colonised by Britain, though much of what it deals with is of interest and relevance to countries colonised by other European powers, such as France, Portugal, and Spain"[134]. Although these countries share the same experiences, are labelled postcolonial, "emerged in their present form out of the experience of colonisation and asserted themselves by foregrounding the tension with the imperial power"[135], it becomes soon clear that no definition of postcolonialism for all former colonies is possible due to the "special and distinctive regional characteristics"[136] of each single theory and country. Theories and definitions defer as colonialism and its effects are not uniform due to different colonial practices and processes of decolonization.

Another aspect why the definition is not easy is that the expressions 'postcolonialism' or 'postcolonial literatures' are ambiguous and signify, very generally speaking, either the conceptual or the temporal difference to colonialism in spite of the neocolonial conditions in some of the cultures concerned[137]. Postcolonial theories analyse on the one hand the colonial presentations of selves and others and their links to colonialism and on the other hand the postcolonial representations and the influence the colonial heritage has on them[138].

To conclude, postcolonialism can have two meanings. Firstly, it refers to all nations and cultures which have been influenced and changed by colonialism "from the moment of colonisation to the present day"[139]. Secondly, it refers to theories and "cross-cultural criticism"[140] that deal with colonialism, resistance and independence of the former colonies. These critical approaches are often but not exclusively written in countries that were once colonies and by people who have a connection with colonialism or postcolonialism.

3.1.3 Postcolonialism and Postmodernism What is Postmodernism?

Postcolonialism is often linked with postmodernism which is a key term in many cultural theories. It came into existence in the 1930s and 40s and was at its height at the end of the 1960s when changes in art, literature, music, dance and architecture took place[141]. The term stands for a variety of concepts that question the existing norms and values by refusing constant innovations compared to Modernism[142] and by showing a new interest in traditions and history[143]. The separation between Modernism and Postmodernism is not easy as some critics declare Postmodernism the continuation of Modernism and others as its opposite. Postmodernism expresses a mixture and pluralism of styles and literature becomes a playful element in which reality and fiction are no longer separable[144]. The Crisis of Authority

There are some characteristics, themes and styles that postcolonialism and postmodernism share such as globalisation and identity, to name but a few. Their characteristics can be summarised as "crisis of authority"[145] in European forms. The following quotation clarifies this:

Decentred, allegorical, schizophrenic ... however we choose to diagnose its symptoms, postmodernism is usually treated, by its protagonists and antagonists alike, as a crisis of cultural authority, specifically of the authority vested in Western European culture and its institutions. That the hegemony of Western civilisation is drawing to a close is hardly a new perception; since the mid-fifties, at least, we have recognised the necessity of encountering different cultures by means other than the shock of domination and conquest.[146]

Undermining a universal authority of the Western world is the main message of postmodernism and postcolonialism[147]. Postmodern writers aim for deconstruction[148]. They want to break and question the given norms and reality, to deconstruct history, identity and reality that are taken for granted. By deconstructing the world, new realities are created which offer different perspectives on certain objects. As a consequence, the postmodernist has to deal with "other" realities and with the Other[149]. Reality becomes important as postmodernists prove that it can be constructed and deconstructed. Because of this, the phenomenon of metafiction[150] is important when considering postmodernism[151].

3.1.4 Postcolonialism and White Teeth

But why is postcolonialism important for this novel? Is it justified to call White Teeth a postcolonial novel and is Zadie Smith herself a postcolonial writer? Although she is half Jamaican and half English, she was born and raised in London and still lives there. With regards to her origins, the culture and nation in which she lives, it is rather doubtful to see her as a representative of a typical postcolonial writer in a stricter sense but after reading the analysis of the novel which is set mainly in postcolonial London, it will become clearer to the reader why White Teeth together with its setting, characters and themes certainly is a postcolonial novel.

As most postcolonial theories are linked with multiculturalism as well, the next chapter is going to focus on this concept and its importance for the novel.

3.2 Multiculturalism

There are three aspects in White Teeth that make it a multicultural novel, namely its author[152], its characters and its setting in London. But before the two latter points are analysed in more detail, a definition of multiculturalism is necessary in order to clarify why Smith’s London and novel are multicultural.

3.2.1 Definitions What is Multiculturalism?

Multiculturalism, which is the natural result of the process of migration[153], is a concept of ethnic[154], social and cultural variety in a society and deals with the relationship between dominant cultures and their subgroups[155].

A multicultural society consists of two or more different cultures which are different in language, religion, traditions and their systems of values and forms of living that live peacefully together without discriminating or favouring one group[156]. Another definition for a multicultural society is the following:

[...]a society (which may or may not be a nation-state but may also include an empire) having two or more ethnic groups, each having cultural traits that may have some overlap with the other group(s), yet is distinctive enough to form a different cultural identity and community.[157]

Multiculturalism is a "philosophical position and movement that assumes that the gender, ethnic, racial, and cultural diversity of a pluralistic society should be reflected in all of its institutionalised structures but especially in educational institutions, including the staff, norms and values, curriculum and student body"[158].

For Roger Scrutun, multiculturalism is "a movement in schools, universities and political institutions, to make room for 'other cultures'"[159].

Multicultural societies constantly take part in a process of transformation[160] and never come to a standstill as they experience a daily immigration and a re-mixture of people from everywhere[161]. Culture is a process in multicultural societies as it is negotiated in the new "contact zones"[162] of cultural encounters where intercultural exchange and mutual cross-cultural influence take part. Prescriptive and Descriptive Multiculturalism

In some countries, multiculturalism is still an ideal that has to be achieved, in others, it is already reality[163].

Multiculturalism is prescriptive or normative when it refers to government policy[164]. This means that a norm that propagates cultural diversity exists in a nation and is supported by the government. Each immigrant can preserve his or her culture as long as the different cultures interact peacefully within one country[165]. These nations provide laws in order to engrave this concept into their nation[166]. As a consequence, a "cultural mosaic"[167] of separate cultural groups comes into existence which contrasts the "melting pot"[168] that mixes them[169]. Prescriptive multiculturalism has become an important political concept in many countries in the process of forming their contemporary nation, especially in heterogene postcolonial societies[170].

The term also has a descriptive aspect, as it describes the current situation in a country such as Britain which has cultural pluralism due to a tradition[171]. Ethnic Minorities and Ethnicity

Ethnic minorities, who play a crucial role in White Teeth as two of the three families in the novel belong to this group, have evolved in Britain from the immigration from the former British colonies in the South Asian and Caribbean subcontinent. Two families in White Teeth have members from Jamaica[172] and Bangladesh[173] who, in the British society[174], form ethnic minorities and therefore, the term shall be explained in short.

A minority group can either be a subgroup that does not form a majority of the population or a group that is disadvantaged or has less political or economic power than a dominant group[175]. An ethnic minority group is therefore a group of people who are fewer in population than other ethnic groups. Most ethnic minority groups[176] are formed of indigenous and tribal peoples, migrants and refugees[177]. The people who are from a group share different similarities like origins, language, nationality, religion, history, culture and customs[178]. The ethnic group normally expects loyalty and conformity from its members[179].

Both multicultural and postcolonial theories have shaped the term 'ethnicity'[180]. 'Ethnicity' is a key concept in postcolonial literary and cultural which has removed the term 'race'[181]. In the majority of theories dealing with multiculturalism and postcolonialism, both terms are regarded as "a significant cultural construction”[182] and deal with an affiliation to a certain race, nation or culture[183]. The identification with a certain group is of importance for the construction and definition of one’s identity as well as for the placement of an individual in a historic, cultural and linguistic area in the world[184]. In a postcolonial context, the search or the re-finding of one’s, sometimes destroyed, identity plays a crucial role[185].

3.2.2 Origins of Multiculturalism

The term was introduced in the late 1960s in connection with the Canadian society when the term bi-culturalism came out of use to describe the living together of francophone and anglophone citizens[186]. An Official Multiculturalism Act was passed in Canada which affirmed that it had become a multicultural nation and federal funds were distributed to ethnic groups to help them preserve their cultures[187]. This policy was added to Canada’s 1982 constitution[188]. Afterwards, the term spread quickly from Canada onto other ethnically and culturally heterogene countries[189].

3.2.3 Implementation of a Multicultural Policy

In a country with a multicultural concept, it is the task of the government and of ethnic organisations to provide equality and contact between the cultures. Multicultural policies of the government can include the acceptance of a dual citizenship; help with a fast naturalisation if wanted; programmes to encourage minority representation in the work force, in politics and education; governmental support for television, newspapers and radio

in the languages of the immigrants and the support for cultural festivals, bank holidays and arts as well as the acceptance of religious and traditional dresses in schools, the army and society in general[190].

3.2.4 Multiculturalism: A Blessing or a Curse? Positive Aspects of Multiculturalism

Its main aims are the fight against discrimination, stereotypes, separatism, racism and forced assimilation[191] and a creation of mutual respect and recognition between races as well as a peaceful living together of different ethnic groups, a constant communication between the cultures, racial harmony and multicultural tolerance. Assimilation is not the aim of a multicultural concept as each culture shall have the right to live its traditions as long as a peaceful atmosphere can be guaranteed[192]. The ideal, which is difficult to achieve, is the equality[193] of all groups in a society without any domination or exclusion of certain citizens[194]. In these societies, all distinctions between ethnic groups are abolished as well as dichotomies like us/them[195]. People shall learn to accept other cultures, to reflect their own culture and even to go beyond it and not to regard it as superior. The first step to reach this aim is a policy of rapprochement even when differences between the ethnic groups exist.

The concept of multiculturalism regards differences between cultures as a blessing and a chance[196] for the whole society. When multiculturalism works, it leads to cultural exchanges between the various cultural groups. Such exchanges can take place in politics, economy, literature, philosophy or art as well as in the appreciation of variations in music, dress and new foods in daily life[197]. Criticism

Some theorists criticise the term as it has negative connotations for them and hides a certain risk for societies that are too tolerant[198].

Instead of stressing similarity, cultural assimilation, social integration and inclusion, it emphasises in their opinion difference and exclusion from mainstream society and symbolises separation rather than integration.

For Rushdie, the term has only become a euphemistic synonym for the malfunctioning process of integration[199]. He gives the following definition:

And now there’s a new catchword: ‘multiculturalism’. In our schools, this means little more than teaching the kids a few bongo rhythms, how to tie a sari and so forth. In the police training programme, it means telling cadets that black people are so ‘culturally different’ that they can’t help but make trouble. Multiculturalism is the latest token gesture towards Britain’s blacks and it ought to be exposed, like 'integration' and 'racial harmony', for the sham it is.[200]

Multiculturalism hides certain problems caused by cultural variety, such as discrimination, social, political and juridical injustice, criminality, unemployment and housing problems[201]. As Rushdie’s quotation shows, the term emphasises only cultural pluralism, traditions, language, multicultural events and exotic[202] aspects of other traditions and does not go deep enough. This superficial interest in other cultures is also described as 'culinary-cynic'[203] multiculturalism as people are willing to accept and profit from foreign restaurants, food[204], musicians, shops etc. but do not want to be confronted with the negative aspects and the problems the immigrants have to face in their society[205].

Rushdie also criticises the fact that "the mainstream never sees itself as part of the equation as one of the multi's. The pot itself never melts only the ingredients as they get chopped up"[206]. This means that the mainstream group firstly has to accept the ethnic groups and secondly has to be willing to take part in the process of transformation into a multicultural society as every ethnic group is part of it. If multiculturalism can work, both sides have to assimilate and integrate into this new environment, both have to give and take at the same time.

Confrontation in general with other cultures can have a negative effect and is not always a blessing as many multicultural programmes claim. Some people think that multiculturalism is a danger for the stability of national identity[207]. Besides that, the experience of foreignness can lead to reflecting one’s own culture which can cause insecurity[208]. The concerned person no longer knows where he or she belongs because he or she stands between the cultures and is no longer sure even about the culture into which he or she was born.

People who feel insecure are not open-minded to others and when this feeling becomes extreme, it can turn into separatism and fundamentalism on both the migrant’s and the local’s side[209]. This means a strong emphasis of one’s alterity and a retreat from the multicultural society that tries to create equality. Consequences can be the creation of stereotypes, prejudices and racism towards different ethnic groups and a sometimes voluntary segregation between the cultures[210]. This is the reason for the creation of ethnic parallel worlds that are in some countries hidden behind the concept of multiculturalism. It is therefore important that both sides, the immigrants and the locals, are willing to create equality, to work together and to form a unity.

Some conservative parties are against multicultural politics as they regard it as a potential for conflict and tensions due to cultural differences and contradictions and fear the expansion of terrorism as a consequence of a too tolerant multicultural society[211]. In their opinion, the fears of the "original" society about the change of their country are not taken into account enough as the main emphasis lies on the migrants and not on the locals[212].

Other critics argue that multiculturalism has only been successful because it is an important means for politicians to win the votes of immigrants[213]. Federal funds for cultural festivals as well as for television or newspapers can encourage immigrants to support the political party that stands for a multicultural policy[214].

3.2.5 The Current Situation of Multiculturalism in Britain

The fact that Britain is an immigration country and its society multicultural[215] has been widely accepted[216]. Organisations like the Commission for Racial Equality[217] or The Parekh Report[218] are proof of the acceptance and importance of a multicultural policy in Britain.

Nevertheless, the concept of multiculturalism has been the subject of many debates over recent years. Under the Conservatives[219], multicultural policies were limited to left-leaning councils[220]. But since the election of the Labour government in 1997, these ideas have been accepted in the government policies[221]. Many Britons support the government’s multicultural approach that on the one hand defends the rights and the cultures of ethnic minorities but on the other hand tries to integrate the immigrants into British society without forcing their assimilation[222]. They are proud of Britain’s multiculturalism as "cultural syncreticity is a valuable as well as an inescapable and characteristic feature of all post-colonial societies and indeed [...] the source of their peculiar strength"[223].

But the debates have come to a negative climax due to the terrorist attacks in London on July 7 2005 and the events that followed. Critics say that the multicultural policy has failed as a society which is too tolerant becomes vulnerable and this is the case in London now. Critics plead for more assimilation of the immigrants as a very small number of citizens can, in the worst case, turn into ethnic time bombs who preach hatred against Britain instead of integrating into society[224]. Britain never had an assimilation policy and "accepted as natural what you may call cultural and religious tribalism"[225] which now turns against British society. The country has confused tolerance with negligence[226].

There are not only negative consequences and danger for the "local" British citizens but also for British Muslims. The old[227] conflicts between Britons and their Muslim neighbours become more tense, not only in Britain but also world-wide[228]. Direct and indirect racism will continue and even get worse along with the division of society into Muslims and non-Muslims. There is the again the danger to convert every Muslim into a suspect and one of the great religions into a cult of death because these terrorists claim to act in the name of their religion. All this is another step away from multiculturalism[229].

3.2.6 Multiculturalism and Postcolonialism

Multiculturalism is also a key term in postcolonial studies as it is a typical phenomenon of the colonial heritage[230]. In postcolonial literature, the term is often used in connection with plural hybridity[231] in contrast to monocultural assimilation to the dominating cultural norms[232]. Multiculturalism deals with and affects the difficult process and mechanism of finding one’s personal identity or the collective identity of an ethnic group in the multicultural societies of the postcolonial period[233].

It is one of the aims of this thesis to show if multiculturalism is presented as a blessing or a curse by Zadie Smith and if the novel is realistic or not about this phenomenon of British society. The analysis will also deal with actual events that took place in London on July 7 2005 and in the weeks afterwards in Britain in general as they are significant proof of the (mal)functioning of multiculturalism in contemporary Britain.


[1] The two terms colonialism and postcolonialism are going to be discussed in more depth in chapter 2 and 3.

[2] The word British has several different uses. Very generally speaking, it refers to the people of Great Britain. In this thesis, the term shall refer to multicultural Britain and includes immigrants from the first generation who immigrated to Britain as well as to the second and third generation who were born in Britain and who have British passports. Although they have no British origins, most members of the third and second generation consider themselves and are British.

[3] The British Empire was the world's largest empire and first global power. By 1921, it ruled roughly a quarter of the world's population and covered 24 % of the world's land area. Cf. "British Empire,"Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia, 17 July 2005, Wikimedia Foundation Inc., St. Petersburg, Florida, 2 Aug 2005 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_empire>.

[4] Cf. Michael Meyer, English and American Literatures (Tübingen and Basel: A. Francke Verlag, 2004) 144.

[5] Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children (London: Picador, 1981).

[6] Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses (Dover and Delaware: The Consortium, 1992).

[7] Hanif Kureishi, The Buddha of Suburbia (London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1990).

[8] Meera Syal, Anita and Me (London: Flamingo, 1996).

[9] Timothy Mo, Sour Sweet (London: Paddleless Press, 1999).

[10] Sam Selvon, The Lonely Londoners (19th ed. New York: Longman Publishing Group, 2001). This novel, first published in 1956, is one of the first multicultural novels and is set in London, the centre of the former Empire.

[11] Monica Ali, Brick Lane (London: Black Swan, 2004).

[12] Bend it like Beckham. Writ. by Gurinder Chadha, Guljit Bindra and Paul Mayeda Berges. Dir. Gurinder Chadha. Perf. Parminder K. Nagra, Keira Knightely, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Archie Panjabi and Anupam Khe. The Works, 2002.

[13] The Kumars At No 42. Writ. by Richard Pinto, Sharat Sardana and Sanjeev Bhaskar. Dir. Lissa Evans and Nick Wood. Perf. Sanjeev Bhaskar, Vincent Ebrahim and Indira Joshi. Hat Trick Productions, 2001.

[14] Da Ali G Show. Writ. By Sacha Baron Cohen and Dan Mazer. Dir. Mark Mylod. Prod. Peter Fincham Perf. Ali G, Borat Sagdiyev and Bruno. Teale Edwards Productions, 2000.

[15] Although the multicultural novels and productions mentioned come from Britain, they are also a huge success in other countries like Germany or the USA as their topics have certain relevance for other multicultural countries. Another feature for success are their wit and style but this will be discussed in the following chapters.

[16] The term multicultural and multiculturalism is going to be explained in more detail in chapter 3.

[17] This expression refers to the title of an essay by Rushdie. Cf. Salman Rushdie, "The New Empire Within Britain."Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981–1991 (London: Granta Books, 1991) 129-138.

[18] Zadie Smith, White Teeth (London: Penguin Books, 2000).

[19] Cf. Nina Shen Rastogi, Zadie Smith’s 'White Teeth' (New York : Barnes and Noble Books, 2003) 32.

[20] Chris Jones, "From Willesden to Whitbread," rev. of White Teeth, by Zadie Smith, BBC News UK, 6 Jan. 2001, BBC, London, 16 Aug. 2005 <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/1102556.stm>.

[21] Even before it was published, the novel was praised by Salman Rushdie as "astonishingly assured" (cf. Jones).

[22] Cf. Susanne Cuevas, "Ground-Breaking Fictions. Black British Novels at the Beginning of the New Millennium,"Hard Times. Deutsch-Englische Zeitschrift 77 (2004) 19.

[23] White Teeth. Writ. by Zadie Smith. Adapt. Simon Burke. Dir. Julian Jarrold. Perf. Omi Puri, Phil Davis, Archie Panjabi, Naomie Harris, Christopher Simpson. Company Pictures, 2002.

[24] Cf. Claire Squires, Zadie Smith's 'White Teeth' : A Reader's Guide (London: Continuum 2002) 80-81.

[25] She studied English Literature at King’s College, Cambridge (cf. Squires 10) and started writing White Teeth just before her final exams (cf. Squires 14). The novel developed out of Smith’s short story "Mrs. Begum’s Son and the Private Tutor" which is narrated by the private tutor Alex Pembrose in multicultural Willesden Green. Similarities can be found between the novel and the short story. One of Alex’s students is called Magid and his mother’s name is Alsana Begum which is the maiden name of Alsana in White Teeth. Both women have two sons, Magid and self-named Mark, who is, like Millat in White Teeth, a lady-killer, anglicised and an Islamic fundamentalist. cf. Zadie Smith, "Mrs. Begum’s Son and the Private Tutor,"The May Anthology of Oxford and Cambridge Short Stories, ed. Martha Kelly (Oxford and Cambridge: Varsity Publications Ltd and Cherwell Oxford Student Publications Ltd, 1997) 89-113; Smith was inspired to write the novel by her father. When she got to know that her parents met at a party, she could not imagine her father at a party. So she had to write about it which became the scene where Archie meets Clara. The whole novel expanded from that event. Cf. Eithne Farry, "Cultural Forces," Amazon UK, London, 16 Aug. 2005

<http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/tg/feature/-/25895/202-6917882-3809409>; Smith pursues now an academic career at Harvard University (cf. Cuevas 19).

[26] Smith is sometimes labelled as a Black British writer. The term stands for a literary and academic category of writers who are British residents of the first or second generation with South Asian, African or Caribbean origins. Cf. Ball 246. But Smith rejects this label because she wanted to write a novel that goes beyond her personal demographics. Cf. Squires 77-78.

[27] Cf. Squires 7; Although Smith denies autobiographical features in the novel, her character Irie is often compared to her as both are half-English and half-Jamaican, live in Willesden and experienced the same problems. Where obvious, remarks about similarities will be made in the following analysis of the novel. Cf. Squires 9.

[28] Chapter ?

[29] Zadie Smith, The Autograph Man (London: Penguin Books, 2002).

[30] Besides the two novels, Smith has published short stories, journalism, an introduction to Lewis Carroll and has edited a collection of erotica (cf. Squires 20).

[31] Cf. Rastogi 1.

[32] Cf. Rastogi 1.

[33] Please refer to chapter 3.3.

[34] London continues to be the centre of immigration although the British Empire does not exist any more.

[35] A definition of this term will be given in chapter 3.

[36] 2.5 million people from India fought in the Second World War for the British Empire compared to 1,4 million in the First World War. Many Punjabis fought for Britain who later decided to settle down in "the mother country". (Cf. Britain and the Commonwealth. Central Office for Information Reference Pamphlet (London: HMSO, 1985) 79.

[37] Only the most important events are mentioned as a detailed presentation of the former colonies’ histories would go beyond the scope of this thesis.

[38] Cf. Rolf Bischoff, Gegenwart und Geschichte des englischen Schulsystems (Marburg: Tectum Verlag, 2001) 63.

[39] Cf. Eberhard Kreutzer, "Kolonialismus,"Metzler Lexikon. Literatur- und Kulturtheorie: Ansätze-Personen-Grundbegriffe, ed. Ansgar Nünning (Stuttgart and Weimar: Verlag J. B. Metzler, 2001) 317.

[40] Cf. Kreutzer, "Kolonialismus" 317.

[41] The Empire consisted of Britain and its colonies.

[42] Cf. Peter J. Marshall, "1918 to the 1960s: Keeping Afloat."The Cambridge Illustrated History of the British Empire, ed. Peter J. Marshall (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001) 105.

[43] 'Third World' was a term originally used to distinguish nations that neither aligned with the West nor with the East during the Cold War. Today, however, the term is used to denote nations with the smallest UN Human Development Index in the world. Many Third World countries are located in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. They are often nations that were colonised by another nation in the past. In general, they are not as industrialised or technologically advanced as other countries and have a poor infrastructure. Cf. "Third World,"Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia, 15 July 2005, Wikimedia Foundation Inc., St. Petersburg, Florida, 2 Aug 2005 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_world>.

[44] Cf. Britain and the Commonwealth. Central Office for Information Reference Pamphlet 1.

[45] Cf. Jürgen Bellers, Die Auflösung des Commonwealth und die Entstehung der britischen Entwicklungspolitik (Siegen: Universität GH Siegen, 2002) 4.

[46] Cf. Britain and the Commonwealth. Central Office for Information Reference Pamphlet 21.

[47] "Jamaika", Dtv Lexikon in 20 Bänden, vol. 9 (München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1999) 57.

[48] Cf. Britain and the Commonwealth. Central Office for Information Reference Pamphlet 3.

[49] Cf. Britain and the Commonwealth. Central Office for Information Reference Pamphlet 6.

[50] Cf. "Jamaika", Dtv Lexikon in 20 Bänden 57.

[51] Cf. "Jamaika", Dtv Lexikon in 20 Bänden 57.

[52] Cf. "Jamaika", Dtv Lexikon in 20 Bänden 57.

[53] Cf. Sigfrid Henry Steinberg and I. H. Evans, eds. 2nd ed. Steinberg’s Dictionary of British History (Port Melbourne: Edward Arnold Ltd., 1970) 189.

[54] Cf. Steinberg 189.

[55] Cf. Steinberg 189.

[56] A 'crown colony' is ruled directly by the British government and does not have its own government. "Crown Colony,"Tiscali. Reference. Hutchinson’s Encyclopedia, 2005, Tiscali UK Ltd, London, 4 Aug 2005 <http://www.tiscali.co.uk/reference/encyclopaedia/hutchinson/m0019907.html>.

[57] Cf. "Jamaika", Dtv Lexikon in 20 Bänden 57.

[58] The Federation of the West Indies existed from 1958 to 1962. It consisted of former Caribbean colonies of Britain. It started to fall apart in 1961 when the largest province Jamaica opted out. Cf. "Federation of the West Indies,"Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia, 20 July 2005, Wikimedia Foundation Inc., St. Petersburg, Florida, 6 Aug 2005 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federation_of_the_West_Indies>.

[59] Cf. Steinberg 189.

[60] Cf. Steinberg 189.

[61] Cf. Steinberg 264.

[62] Cf. Steinberg 264.

[63] Bengal is the area in the north-east of India and its inhabitants are called Bengali. Politically speaking, the Western part belongs to India, the East forms Bangladesh. In 1757, the region became British territory but British business establishments have existed there since 1650. (Cf. "Bengalen", Dtv Lexikon in 20 Bänden, vol. 2 (München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1999) 188.

[64] After its independence, Pakistan became member of the Commonwealth as well.

[65] Cf. "Bangladesch", Dtv Lexikon in 20 Bänden, vol. 2 (München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1999) 94.

[66] Cf. "Bangladesch", Dtv Lexikon in 20 Bänden 94.

[67] Cf. Britain and the Commonwealth. Central Office for Information Reference Pamphlet 4.

[68] Cf. Britain and the Commonwealth. Central Office for Information Reference Pamphlet 4.

[69] Bengali is a New Indian language spoken in Western Bengal (India) and Bangladesh by more than 100 million people. Cf. "Bengali", Dtv Lexikon in 20 Bänden, vol. 2 (München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1999) 188.

[70] The Muslims conquered the region around 1200 and expelled the Buddhist religion. (Cf. "Bengalen", Dtv Lexikon in 20 Bänden 188).

[71] Cf. "Bangladesch", Dtv Lexikon in 20 Bänden 94.

[72] Cf. "Bangladesch", Dtv Lexikon in 20 Bänden 94.

[73] Cf. "Bangladesch", Dtv Lexikon in 20 Bänden 94.

[74] Cf. "Bangladesch", Dtv Lexikon in 20 Bänden 94.

[75] Jews can be regarded as a race or a religious community.

[76] Cf. Vivian D. Lipman, A History of the Jews in Britain since 1858 (Leicester and London: Leicester University Press, 1990) 4.

[77] Cf. Lipman 12.

[78] Cf. Steinberg 190-191.

[79] Cf. Lipman 13.

[80] Cf. Lipman 43-44.

[81] Cf. Lipman 14.

[82] Cf. Lipman xii.

[83] Cf. Peter J. Marshall, "Imperial Britain."The Cambridge Illustrated History of the British Empire, ed. Peter J. Marshall (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001) 333.

[84] Cf. Tariq Modood and Richard Berthoud, eds. Ethnic Minorities in Britain. Diversity and Disadvantage (London: PSI Policy Studies Institute, 1997) 83.

[85] A 'push-factor' is something that forces someone to move out of a certain area.

[86] Cf. Modood 83.

[87] A 'pull-factor' is something that draws someone to a certain area.

[88] Cf. Modood 83.

[89] Cf. Sheila Patterson, Immigration and Race Relations in Britain 1960-1967 (London and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969) 1.

[90] Cf. Modood 82.

[91] Cf. Modood 82.

[92] Cf. Modood 84.

[93] 'Periphery' refers to the British colonies.

[94] Cf. Marshall, "Imperial Britain" 318.

[95] Cf. Marshall, "Imperial Britain" 318.

[96] Marshall, "Imperial Britain" 318.

[97] Marshall, "Imperial Britain" 318.

[98] One quote by Robert Southey demonstrates well the British feeling of superiority: "A remarkable peculiarity is that they [the English] always write the personal pronoun I with a capital letter. May we not consider this Great I as an unintended proof how much an Englishman thinks of his own consequence?" Robert Southey, Letters from England, ed. Jack Simmons (London: Cresset Press, 1951), as quoted in Homi K. Bhabha, "Signs Taken for Wonders: Questions of Ambivalence and Authority under a Tree Outside Delhi, May 1817."Europe and its Others, vol. 1, ed. Francis Barker et al. (Colchester: University of Essex, 1985) 89.

[99] Cf. Marshall, "Imperial Britain" 320.

[100] Cf. Marshall, "Imperial Britain" 322.

[101] Tobias A. Wachinger, Posing In-Between. Postcolonial Englishness and the Commodification of Hybridity (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang - Europäischer Verlag der Wissenschaften, 2003) 152.

[102] Cf. Marshall, "Imperial Britain" 332.

[103] The Race Relations Acts dealt with discrimination on the grounds of colour, race, ethnic or national group in certain places of public resort, housing and employment etc. The latest act was passed in 2000. For a more detailed description of the acts, please refer to Ian A. MacDonald, Race Relations and Immigration Law (London: Butterworths, 1969) and "Race Relations Act 1976 and Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000," Statistics, 4 Nov. 2003, National Statistics, London, 21 Aug. 2005 <http://www.statistics.gov.uk/about/ethnic_group_statistics/key_acts/race_relations.asp>.

[104] As multiculturalism is often a result of (post)colonialism, it will be discussed after the chapter on postcolonialism.

[105] The term can be used as a synonym to 'postcoloniality' (Cf. Eberhard Kreutzer, "Postkolonialismus/Postkolonialität,"Metzler Lexikon. Literatur- und Kulturtheorie: Ansätze-Personen-Grundbegriffe, ed. Ansgar Nünning (Stuttgart and Weimar: Verlag J. B. Metzler, 2001) 521) although others regard postcoloniality as the condition postcolonialism (the theory) addresses. cf. Leela Gandhi, Postcolonial Theory. A Critical Introduction (New York: Columbia University, 1998) 4.

[106] It was in the 1980s that this field of studies became more and more popular. It combines cultural and literary studies with history and sociology. Many approaches to (post)colonialism exist, some of them deal with literature, others with politics, history or economy. Cf. Tiziana Zugaro-Merimi, "Heroic Hybridity: African American Pop Culture in the 1990s." Diss. (Berlin: Freie Universität Berlin, 2002) 34.

[107] Cf. Squires 41.

[108] Cf. Rastogi 53-54.

[109] Nowadays, a neocolonialism exists which is still a form of colonialism. It means that stronger states show their economic, military or political power over weaker ones.

[110] More than three-quarters of the people living in the world have been influenced by colonialism. Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin, eds., The Empire Writes Back. Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures, 2nd ed. (London and New York: Routledge, 2002) 1.

[111] Theories can for example be based on the ex-colonisers’ or ex-colonised’ points of view.

[112] Cf. Kreutzer, "Postkolonialismus/Postkolonialität" 521.

[113] Cf. Kreutzer, "Postkolonialismus/Postkolonialität" 521; Postcolonial literature criticises Eurocentrism and has changed the traditional literary canon and ideas of culture. The literary canon consists of works considered to be of importance and worthwhile reading. Eurocentrism refers to the privileging of European culture and values.

[114] cf. Gandhi, 3; In this thesis, no difference will be made between the term with or without hyphen. The spelling without hyphen will exclusively be used in the following as both the consequences of the long process of colonisation and the time afterwards play a crucial role in White Teeth.

[115] Cf. Kreutzer, "Postkolonialismus/Postkolonialität" 521.

[116] Cf. Gandhi 3.

[117] Cf. Kreutzer, "Postkolonialismus/Postkolonialität" 521.

[118] Evelyn Baring, Ancient and Modern Imperialism (London: John Murray, 1910) 118 and 120, as quoted in Edward Said, Orientalism. Western Conceptions of the Orient (London: Penguin Books, 1978) 213.

[119] Poststructuralism emphasises the unstable linguistic basis of identity, meaning, knowledge and power. Because everything is part of an unstable language system, textual and social meanings, which appear natural, are unstable as well. Cf. "Post-Structuralism,"Critical Concepts. Some Media/Communications Theory Keywords condensed from the Original Byaidan Arrowsmith, Filcommedia Filton College, Bristol, 12 Aug. 2005 <http://www.adamranson.freeserve.co.uk/critical%20concepts.htm>.

[120] Cf. Metzler, 435-436.

[121] Edward Said, Orientalism. Western Conceptions of the Orient (London: Penguin Books, 1978).

[122] He became famous for his theories concerning power and the relation between power and knowledge as well as for his ideas concerning discourse in relation to the history of Western thought. Cf. "Michel Foucault,"Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia, 2 Aug 2005, Wikimedia Foundation Inc., St. Petersburg, Florida, 6 Aug 2005 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Foucault>.

[123] Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, trans. Charles Lam Markham (New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1952). Fanon is one of the most important anti-colonist writers of the earlier generation. Like Bhabha, he used a psychoanalytic approach for his studies. (Cf. Zugaro-Merimi 35)

[124] Earlier theorists had a different emphasis in their works, namely the economic exploitation of the colonies or sociological effects on the colonised. More recent works are based on cultural studies. (Cf. Zugaro-Merimi 35).

[125] One of her most famous essays is "Can the Subaltern Speak?". Cf. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, "Can the Subaltern Speak?"Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, ed. Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1988) 271-313.

[126] Most of these critics come from former colonies.

[127] Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin, eds. The Empire Writes Back. Theory and Practice in

Post-Colonial Literatures. 2nd ed. (London and New York: Routledge, 2002).

[128] It consists of works that represent the ideas and values of European culture.

[129] The literary works are nowadays united in the term "post-colonial literatures" or "new literatures in English". Cf. Ashcroft, The Empire Writes Back 22.

[130] According to Michel Foucault, a discourse is a system of ideas or knowledge with a specific vocabulary. They legitimated the exercise of power over people by categorising them as particular 'types'. Cf. "Discourse,"Critical Concepts. Some Media/Communications Theory Keywords condensed from the Original Byaidan Arrowsmith, Filcommedia Filton College, Bristol, 12 Aug. 2005


[131] Cf. Kreutzer, "Postkolonialismus/Postkolonialität" 521.

[132] Cf. chapter 3.

[133] Cf. Kreutzer, "Postkolonialismus/Postkolonialität" 521.

[134] Ashcroft, The Empire Writes Back 1.

[135] Ashcroft, The Empire Writes Back 2.

[136] Ashcroft, The Empire Writes Back 2.

[137] Cf. Meyer, p. 144.

[138] Cf. Meyer, p. 144.

[139] Ashcroft, The Empire Writes Back 2.

[140] Ashcroft, The Empire Writes Back 2.

[141] Cf. "Postmoderne", Dtv Lexikon in 20 Bänden, vol. 14 (München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1999) 241.

[142] Modernism is a new artistic and literary style and emerged before 1914 when artists rebelled against the late 19th century norms. They wanted to present an emotionally truer picture of how people think and feel. Characteristics are radical experiments with form like free verse, stream of consciousness and elaborate language games. Cf. "Modernism,"Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia, 28 July 2005, Wikimedia Foundation Inc., St. Petersburg, Florida, 2 Aug 2005 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modernism>.

[143] Cf. "Postmoderne", Dtv Lexikon in 20 Bänden 241.

[144] Cf. "Postmoderne", Dtv Lexikon in 20 Bänden 241.

[145] Ashcroft, The Empire Writes Back 160.

[146] Craig Owens, "The discourse of Others: feminists and postmodernism."The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture, ed. Hal Foster (Port Toursont: Bay Press, 1983) 57, as quoted in Ashcroft, The Empire Writes Back 160

[147] Cf. Ashcroft, The Empire Writes Back 161

[148] Deconstruction is a strategy of critical analysis and was invented by Jacques Derrida. It deals mainly with contradictions in the text itself and questions "the assumption that the system of language provides grounds that are adequate to establish the boundaries, the coherence or unity, and the determinate meanings of a literary text". Meyer H. Abrams, "Deconstruction", A Glossary of Literary Terms, 7th ed. (Fort Worth, Philadelphia et al.: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1999) 55. In postcolonial context, deconstruction dismantles the assumptions around notions of identity which circulate in society. Cf. "Deconstruction,"Critical Concepts. Some Media/Communications Theory Keywords condensed from the Original Byaidan Arrowsmith, Filcommedia Filton College, Bristol, 12 Aug. 2005


[149] Cf. chapters 3.4 and 3.5. The Other stands always in a power relationship to the Self. It is different from the Self, which regards itself as the norm, in a variety of senses: ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality etc. Cf. "The Other,"Critical Concepts. Some Media/Communications Theory Keywords condensed from the Original Byaidan Arrowsmith, Filcommedia Filton College, Bristol, 12 Aug. 2005 <http://www.adamranson.freeserve.co.uk/critical%20concepts.htm>.

[150] Metafiction is a genre of fiction that deals with its own fictionality and the process of narrating. It therefore does not let the readers forget they are reading a work of fiction. Cf. "Metafiction,"The Free Encyclopedia, 28 June 2005, Wikimedia Foundation Inc, St. Petersburg, Florida, 6 Aug 2005


[151] Cf. Wendy B. Faris, "Scheherazade’s Children: Magical Realism and Postmodern Fiction."Magic Realism. Theory, History, Community, eds. Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B. Faris (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1995) 175.

[152] Smith herself is labelled a multicultural author because she has a mixed-race background and writes about multiculturalism. She soon became a representative of multicultural Britain for the media and a symbol of a new Britain (cf. Squires 15).

[153] Cf. "Multikulturelle Gesellschaft,"Wikipedia. Die Freie Enzyklopädie, 21 July 2005, Wikimedia Foundation Inc, St. Petersburg, Florida, 23 July 2005

<http://de.wikipedia.org.wiki/Multikulturelle_Gesellschaft>; People migrate voluntarily or because of economic, social or political reasons and expect to improve their living conditions by moving to another country. But their high expectations are often not fulfilled as the migrants and the following generations have problems integrating in the new society and experience displacement and a loss of their roots. Cf. "Migration", Brockhaus. Die Enzyklopädie in 24 Bänden, 20th ed., vol. 14 (Leipzig and Mannheim: F.A. Brockhaus, 1998) 617-618.

[154] Please refer to chapter

[155] Cf. Meyer 144; A subgroup is a group of people who share the same interests, values, ethnicity or religion. Sometimes they are formed as a reaction to marginalisation. Youth groups often want to provoke and fight against social norms. Cf. Metzler, "Subkulturen" 515-516.

[156] Cf. Frank Dietrich, "Zusammenleben in einer multikulturellen Gesellschaft," Universität Duisburg, 19 Nov. 2001 <http://www.uni-duisburg.de/FB1/PHILO/Unterricht/kapitel2/2-mul/Multi.htm>.

[157] Edward A. Tiryakian, "Assessing Multiculturalism Theoretically: E Pluribus Unum, Sic et Non,"IJMS. International Journal on Multicultural Societies. UNESCO 5.1 (2003) 23, 9 Aug. 2005


[158] Carl A. Grant and Gloria Ladson-Billings, eds., Dictionary of Multicultural Education (Phoenix: Oryx Press, 1997) 182.

[159] Roger Scrutun, "Oikophobia and Xenophilia."Stereotypes and Nations, ed. Teresa Walas (Cracow: International Cultural Centre Cracow, 1995) 287.

[160] Cf. "Multikulturelle Gesellschaft", Brockhaus. Die Enzyklopädie in 24 Bänden, 20th ed., vol. 15 (Leipzig and Mannheim: F.A. Brockhaus, 1998) 208.

[161] The postmodern, heterogene societies are in direct contrast to the ones during Modernism that tried to create homogene nations. ("Multikulturelle Gesellschaft", Brockhaus 208).

[162] The term was originally used for the zone of colonial encounters between colonisers and colonised people.

[163] Besides the approach of multiculturalism, the government of a country has two other possibilities for dealing with immigrants and their cultures. 'Monoculturalism' aims at the assimilation of the immigrants. In order to reach this aim, policies support the social integration of immigrant groups to the national culture. Monoculturalism is often found in nations that do not want to recognise the existence of other cultural groups in their country. The concept of the 'Melting Pot' is another approach to multicultural societies. The term is especially linked to the United States where all cultures are mixed without state intervention. Cf. "Multiculturalism,"Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia, 31 July 2005, Wikimedia Foundation Inc, St. Petersburg, Florida, 7 Aug. 2005 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiculturalism>.

[164] Cf. "Multikulturelle Gesellschaft", Brockhaus. Die Enzyklopädie in 24 Bänden 206.

[165] Cf. "Multiculturalism,"Wikipedia.

[166] Canada and Australia have official policies that support multiculturalism.

[167] "Multiculturalism,"Wikipedia. Another name for this concept is "cultural pluralism" which accepts multiculturalism as a constant feature of society. Each culture is treated equally and the model does not aim at a monocultural society like the melting pot. Assimilation is only demanded concerning tolerance and violence. If this is not the case, the government can intervene. Cf. Dietrich.

[168] In a "melting pot" society, all cultures are equal but cultures are expected to mix in order to form a new mono-cultural identity. Problems arise when one group has more power or when certain groups do not take part in the melting process. Cf. Dietrich.

[169] The term multiculturalism can also be used differently. It can describe both the melting pot and the cultural mosaic and refers to them as 'pluralistic' and 'particularist'. Pluralistic multiculturalism regards each culture in a society as contributing unique cultural aspects to the culture of the whole country, whereas particularist multiculturalism is concerned with preserving the distinctions between the different cultures. Cf. "Multiculturalism,"Wikipedia.

[170] Cf. Heinz Antor, "Multikulturalismus,"Metzler Lexikon. Literatur- und Kulturtheorie: Ansätze-Personen-Grundbegriffe, ed. Ansgar Nünning (Stuttgart and Weimar: Verlag J. B. Metzler, 2001) 459.

[171] Cf. "Multikulturelle Gesellschaft", Brockhaus. 206; Tiryakian regards 'multicultural' as a demographic variable and 'multiculturalism' as a normative variable. Cf. Tiryakian 22.

[172] The largest British ethnic minority groups are those of Caribbean and African descent (875,000 people). Cf. "Which are Britain's largest ethnic minorities groups?"About Britain. Facts and Figures, 2001-2005, British Embassy, Berlin, 30 July 2005 <http://www.britischebotschaft.de/en/britain/ab_1.htm>.

[173] The second largest ethnic group are Indians (840,255 people) followed by Pakistani and Bangladeshis (639,390 people). Cf. http://www.britischebotschaft.de/en/britain/ab_1.htm

[174] Ethnic minorities represent around six per cent of the British population. Cf. http://www.britischebotschaft.de/en/britain/ab_1.htm

[175] cf. "Minority,"Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia, 22 July 2005, Wikimedia Foundation Inc, St. Petersburg, Florida, 30 July 2005 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minority>.

[176] These groups are not homogenous as certain members can face further marginalisation due to class, age, gender or other factors. Cf. "Who are Minorities?" Minority Rights Group International, London, 30 July 2005 <http://www.minorityrights.org/>.

[177] Cf. "Who are Minorities?"

[178] Homosexuals are sometimes also regarded as a subgroup or minority. Cf. Georg Hansen, Fernstudieneinheit Materialien zu 'Nation' (Hagen: Fern Universität Gesamthochschule Hagen, 1992) 5.

[179] Cf. Hansen, Fernstudieneinheit Materialien zu 'Nation' 5.

[180] Cf. Meyer 144.

[181] Cf. Meyer 144; 'Race' refers to humans who are divided into fixed biological groups. Cf. Ashcroft, Empire 207.

[182] Meyer 144.

[183] Cf. Heinz Antor. "Ethnizität,"Metzler Lexikon. Literatur- und Kulturtheorie: Ansätze-Personen-Grundbegriffe. Ed. Ansgar Nünning (Stuttgart and Weimar: Verlag J. B. Metzler, 2001) 161.

[184] The ethnicity of certain minority groups can be used as a means for their re-centring in society. Cf. Antor, "Ethnizität" 162.

[185] Cf. Antor, "Ethnizität" 161.

[186] Cf. "Multiculturalism,"Wikipedia.

[187] Cf. "Multiculturalism,"Wikipedia.

[188] Cf. "Multiculturalism,"Wikipedia.

[189] Cf. "Multikulturelle Gesellschaft", Brockhaus. 206.

[190] Cf. "Multiculturalism,"Wikipedia.

[191] In general, multiculturalist policies are against cultural assimilation. Nevertheless, there are some multicultural nations like Canada that support a structured assimilation. Immigrants are encouraged to participate in the mainstream society, learn the majority language and start working. Cf. "Multiculturalism,"Wikipedia.

[192] Cf. "Multikulturelle Gesellschaft,"Wikipedia.

[193] This principle stems from the equality law of the UNO. (cf. "Multikulturelle Gesellschaft", Brockhaus 206).

[194] cf. "Multikulturelle Gesellschaft,"Wikipedia.

[195] Cf. Scrutun 287; A 'dichotomy' means the separation of things in two opposite groups. For a more detailed analysis of dichotomies please refer to chapter 3.4.

[196] Multiculturalism is a chance for a society as it leads to cultural enrichment which is positive for national and international relations, the market force, employment, openness and attractiveness of a country.

[197] Cf. "Multiculturalism,"Wikipedia.

[198] Criticising multiculturalism is a delicate subject because it can lead to accusations of xenophobia and racism. Cf. chapter ?.

[199] Integration is a long and difficult process. Trying to integrate immigrants so that they become completely assimilated is an illusion as even the children of the immigrants born in Britain have difficulties with completely integrating. On the one hand, they do not know where they belong, on the other hand, it is the society that regards them still as foreigners.

[200] Salman Rushdie, "Imaginary Homeland."Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981 –1991 (London: Granta Books, 1992) 137.

[201] Cf. "Multikulturelle Gesellschaft", Brockhaus 206.

[202] Cf. chapter ?.

[203] Klaus J. Bade, ed., "Einleitung: Grenzerfahrungen – die multikulturelle Herausforderung,"Die multikulturelle Herausforderung. Menschen über Grenzen – Grenzen über Menschen (München: Verlag C. H. Beck, 1996) 18.

[204] Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said that Britain's multicultural success was shown by chicken tikka masala becoming the country's most popular dish. This statement caused a rethinking of the multicultural concept in Britain. Cf. J.F.O. McAllister and Helen Gibson, "The Importance of Being British,"Time Europe, Time Inc. and Time Warner Publishing B.V., New York, 19 Aug. 2005


[205] cf. "Multikulturelle Gesellschaft", Brockhaus 207.

[206] "Excerpt from Salman Rushdie's 'The New Empire Within Britain'," Department of English Language and Literature, Fu Jen Catholic University, Taipei, 9 Aug. 2005


[207] It has to be mentioned here that the national identity of all countries with a large number of immigrants becomes more and more unstable. This is not necessarily negative but a certain feeling of community and belonging together is necessary for the functioning of a multicultural society.

[208] Cf. "Multikulturelle Gesellschaft", Brockhaus 207.

[209] Cf. "Multikulturelle Gesellschaft", Brockhaus 207.

[210] Cf. chapter ?.

[211] Cf. Paul Scheffer, "Das Scheitern eines Traums . Die multikulturelle Gesellschaft ist eine Illusion. Der Aufstieg von Populisten wie Haider, Fortuyn und Berlusconi zwingt, über die Grenzen des offenen Europas nachzudenken," trans. Gregor Seferens, 11 July 2002, RI Renner Institut, Wien, 23 July 2005<http://www.renner-institut.at/download/texte/scheffer.pdf>.

[212] cf. "Multikulturelle Gesellschaft", Brockhaus 207.

[213] "Multiculturalism,"Wikipedia.

[214] "Multiculturalism,"Wikipedia.

[215] In Europe, only Britain and the Netherlands aim for a multicultural society. Cf. Schwab 111.

[216] Cf. Schwab 110; Signs for the multicultural British society of the 21st century are the Kenyan film director Gurinder Chadha, the British Indian dancer Shobana Jeyasingh, the former rugby player Rory Underwood who is half-Chinese, Pakistani artist Rasheed Araeen and the half-Jamaican singer Javine Hylton who sang for Britain in the Eurovision Contest of 2005, to name but a few.

[217] The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) is a non-governmental organisation in Britain which fights against racial discrimination. Its aim is to promote racial equality. It was founded under the Race Relations Act 1976. Cf. "Commission for Racial Equality,"Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia, 12 May 2005, Wikimedia Foundation Inc, St. Petersburg, Florida, 9 Aug. 2005


[218] This report analysed the current state of multi-ethnic Britain and proposes ways of fighting against racial discrimination. It rethinks what it means to be British, tries to promote equality and a pluralistic human rights culture. The report deals with social policies concerning employment, the media, housing, religion, education, health, the arts, immigration and asylum and with the role of government in providing direction and resources. As it covers all minorities, the conclusions and recommendations of the report will form government policy for the next 20 years which will affect everyone in Britain. Cf. The Runnymede Trust, ed. The Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain (The Parekh Report) (London: Profile Books, 2000).

[219] They were in power between 1979 and 1997.

[220] Cf. "Multiculturalism,"Wikipedia.

[221] Cf. "Multiculturalism,"Wikipedia; For an in-depth analysis of Blair’s attitude on multiculturalism, please refer to Tony Blair, "The Network's Annual General Meeting,"2000 Speeches, 28 November 2000, 10 Downing Street, Directgov, London, 9. Aug. 2005 <http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/Page1550.asp>.

[222] Cf. "Multiculturalism,"Wikipedia.

[223] Ashcroft, Empire 29; This strength was also seen after the attacks on July 7 2005 when all ethnic groups in Britain stood together in the fight against terrorism. There were of course exceptions but these were still in the minority.

[224] It does not make a difference if these people have grown up in Britain or are immigrants as some of the terrorists in London were born and raised in Britain but nevertheless hated Britain. This fact shocked British society.

[225] Ken Dilanian, "Muslims in Britain blame attacks on British government and praise Al Qaeda. Islamic radicals find British haven,"Militant Islam Monitor, 10 July 2005, 9 Aug. 2005 <http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/774>.

[226] Another country that faces the same problems as Britain now is the Netherlands. After the killing of Theo Van Gogh by a Muslim, who wanted to go to Paradise afterwards, heated debates about the failing of multiculturalism in the Netherlands have arisen with negative consequences for the Muslim population in the Netherlands and world-wide.

[227] Please refer to chapter 3.4.

[228] The Rushdie affair and the Iraq war have already tensed the relation between these groups.

[229] The dichotomy Muslim/non-Muslim equates unfortunately bad/good and other/self. For a more detailed explanation, please refer to chapter 3.4. It should not be forgotten that there are always also Muslims among the victims.

[230] Cf. Antor, "Multikulturalismus" 458.

[231] Cf. chapter ?.

[232] Cf. Antor, "Multikulturalismus" 459.

[233] Cf. Antor, "Multikulturalismus" 459.


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Title: Multiculturalism and magic realism? Between fiction and reality