British Muslim masculinities in transcultural literature and film (1985-2012)
Cherry, Peter James
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This thesis examines how novels and films by British writers and filmmakers of Muslim heritage address the reshaping of masculinity through migration and interaction with other cultures within the UK. Drawing on a comparative critical framework that combines approaches from feminist, gender and masculinity studies, postcolonial, migration and transcultural studies, Islamic studies and literary and film theory, this thesis engages with five novels and four films that were written or released between 1985 and 2012, by British writers and filmmakers who were either born in a Muslim-majority nation or born to parents originating from a Muslim-majority country and who use their fictions to explore the presence and practices of Muslim cultures and communities in contemporary Britain. Through close analysis of work by Monica Ali, Nadeem Aslam, Sally El Hosaini, Ayub Khan-Din, Hanif Kureishi and Robin Yassin-Kassab, this thesis scrutinises how migrant and subsequent generations of postmigrant male protagonists construct their masculinity and how their conceptions of gender identity and performance are ‘translated’ into a British context amidst this century’s climate of Islamophobia and anti-migrant rhetoric, following events such as the Rushdie Affair, 9/11 and 7/7. In doing so, this thesis contends that through transnational movement and settlement conceptions of ‘Muslimness’, ‘Britishness’, and those of masculinity, are thrown into sharp relief and exposed as unstable and contingent constructs. By foregrounding the transcultural aesthetics and themes of this literary and cinematic corpus, however, I argue that this body of cultural production interrogates similarities and differences between the cultures they are positioned across. I use this transcultural approach to focus on how these texts depict father and son relations, religion, urban marginality and sexuality, and how through these foci, these novels creatively imagine new forms of masculinity that are forged through cultural contact, conflict and entanglement.