Postmigrant Revisions of Hybridity, Belonging, and Race in Gautam Malkani’s <i>Londonstani</i>
This article argues that Black British and British Asian literature has changed ahead of the postcolonial/migratory concepts and perspectives it is often read through; that it has entered an “indigene period” (Osborne). The ways in which we usually employ concepts like hybridity, belonging and race are no longer geared to analyse this literature mainly because they originate in a binary thinking of migrant and non-migrant identities that is increasingly disappearing in the works themselves. The concepts remain relevant but need revision. To contribute to this work, the article introduces the emerging concept of “postmigration” (originating in Berlin). Postmigration breaks away from the migrant/non-migrant binary by arguing that migration and cultural and racial heterogeneity are no longer exceptional phenomena. They have become the norm in European societies and are now ordinary features of everyday life that affect all citizens regardless of their backgrounds. The article centres on the postmigrant idea that in order to “normalize” migration as integral to everyday social reality, migration needs to move from being an object of research to become its point of departure, which requires two basic moves: research on non-white European art and culture needs to be “de-migratized” while European social and cultural studies need to undergo a general “migratization” (Römhild). The article then shows how concepts like hybridity, belonging and race come to work and signify differently in Black British and British Asian novels when “demigratized” by a postmigrant perspective. Cultural hybridity, for instance, is de-aesthetized and de-exceptionalized to become a concept that describes ordinary reality and social space involving characters of all colours and backgrounds. The same goes for belonging, which also shifts from a question of cultural roots/uprooting to include many other factors contributing to feelings of un/belonging (e.g. class, gender, age, sexuality and sensuous experiences of emplacement). Finally, the almost automatic association of black and brown with immigrant identities is discontinued and critique of racial identifications get to be analysed in conjunction with a sensitivity towards various forms of everyday post-racial dis-identifications. The reading of Londonstani shows how the postmigrant perspective as an analytical perspective develops in interaction with the work that is analysed.