Synthesis: In the Shadow of Empire: Situating Black British Writing

Granting Black British writing—as a body of texts—the place it deserves in the British university system is the central concern this issue explores. Acknowledging the historical perspective of four hundred years of contested writing, and drawing on the conference Situating Black British Writing, this Synthesis special issue focuses on situating the field in relation to the humanities, critical thought, a changing understanding of the signifier Black, and the impact of UK publishing politics on the corpus.

The special issue builds on pioneering research and teaching interests established on differing sides of the Atlantic. This includes the cofounding, teaching, and inaugurating of the UK’s and world’s first Black British writing postgraduate program, following on and interlinking with the teaching and researching of Caribbean and diaspora literatures. Similarly, dialogue with the writing produced in Africa centrally informs the corpus. That such intersections visible within Black British writing speak to both transglobal connections and complexities, helping to re-world and define the body of work and its wide-ranging transcultural influences, is also central to this issue. We showcase, especially, Black voices that still too often remain largely missing from the UK’s scholarly debate. We bring to the Issue researchers and Black British writers alike presenting varied approaches to a range of Black British writing genres.

Remaining true to the rationale of the conference, the issue aims to promote dialogue between specialists that include Black British writers and scholars and reflect critically the many intersections and meanings of diaspora and diasporic frames of analysis
in Black British literary and cultural criticism. Topics of interest include the following:

  • The legacies of empire on Black British writing
  • The nature of Black Britishness and its negotiating between the different locations to which Black British writers are attached and (re)present
  • Considerations of ventriloquism or allyship: their impact on Black British writing
  • Black British writing in relation to generation, gender, religious affiliation, sexuality, and political ideology
  • Black British writing, its entanglements, and their meanings
  • Black British writing constructing, reproducing, or conceiving utopian or dystopian futures
  • Blackness, mythology, and its impact on literary production
  • The UK and the politics of Black publishing
  • The UK academy and Black British writing

All proposals should be emailed to and