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Writing British MuslimsReligion, class and multiculturalism$
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Ahmed Rehana

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780719087400

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719087400.001.0001

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The limits of liberalism in the work of Hanif Kureishi

The limits of liberalism in the work of Hanif Kureishi

(p.93) 3 The limits of liberalism in the work of Hanif Kureishi
Writing British Muslims

Ahmed Rehana

Manchester University Press

As well as examining Hanif Kureishi’s explicit representations of Muslims in The Black Album (1995), the short story and screenplay versions of ‘My Son the Fanatic’ (1997) and selected essays, the chapter explores texts that touch upon Islam elliptically and, the book argues, at times uneasily (Intimacy (1998)My Ear at his Heart: Reading My Father (2004)Something To Tell You (2008) and a range of short stories). The chapter tracks the way in which this writer and cultural spokesperson, well known for his powerful opposition to the sanctioned racism of Thatcherism, has responded to the shift to a neoliberal multiculturalism, and explores the position of Muslims and a Muslim identity within the multiethnic cityscapes peopled by mixed-race subjects that Kureishi creates. It argues that Kureishi’s work has helped to shape British multiculturalism both by legitimising a new, culturally diverse Britishness and, crucially, by articulating limits to this legitimacy. His valorisation of a secularist liberal individualism against religious collectivism leads to the emergence of a series of reductive binaries, at odds with the deconstructive thrust of his work, and problematically delegitimises subaltern minority – in particular Muslim – formations.

Keywords:   Hanif Kureishi, The Black Album, My Son the Fanatic, Intimacy, liberal individualism, cultural difference, Islam, multiculturalism, mixed race, fundamentalism

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