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Seminar: 'On Culture'

Venue: Birkbeck Main Building, Malet Street

The melancholic cartography of a national white British society and her ‘ethnic minority communities’ each of which follows a distinct and defining historical path and cultural trajectory continues to shape our ‘common sense’ understandings of culture despite the proliferation of multidisciplinary work on hybridity and creolisation.

This mythology is indispensable to the pathologisation and criminalisation of minoritised communities illuminated by Britain’s histories of postcolonial warfare, deportation, police violence and the infiltration of radical political cultures by police undercover operations over the past fifty years. This discourse on separate cultures bordered by ‘specific values’ nurtures the normalisation of nationalist modes of thought in British universities and the resurgence of ultranationalisms.

I try and present an alternative theorisation of intertwined, hybridised ancient, medieval and modern colonial and postcolonial cultures without centres or borders. I discuss how ancient and medieval histories of hybridisation can add to a reformulation of creolisation which does not essentialise the different cultural elements and which reconnects histories of empire, the formation of modern Britain and colonial nationalisms which erase and reinvent pre-colonial and colonial histories.

I hope that this retheorisation of culture can contribute to interdisciplinary discussions on creolisation and hybridity, retheorising postcolonial cultures and communities, nationalisms and anti-nationalisms, histories of anti-racist political struggle and reparatory academic work.

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