‘London is the Place for Me’: Twentieth-century British Migrant Fiction

In June 2016, the UK voted to leave the European Union, a decision ascribed in no small part to anxieties about immigration, multiculturalism, and the arrival of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Similar anxieties are playing out in the US, and in fact throughout the West. Through readings of a broad range of novels by Anglo-Caribbean and Asian writers, “London is the place for me” examines how writers have depicted the migrant experience over the course of the twentieth century, and how views on ethnicity, citizenship, and belonging have changed in that time. While the majority of the texts examined are set in London, we will also investigate depictions of the diaspora experience in other British cities. In some cases, we will relate these texts to the migrant experience in film and music: the title of the course, in fact, is a quote from a famous song by the Trinidadian singer Lord Kitchener (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGt21q1AjuI). Reading these texts will, in turn, allow us to reflect upon the racial tensions and nationalist strains currently convulsing British and American culture, and to your own experience(s) of these.


  • Visit to Tate Modern Exhibition, “Art in the Age of Black Power”
  • Visit to the Indian Collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum
  • Solo walk through Brixton and record-“digging”
  • Black History Walk – either the Notting Hill or Elephant & Castle walk 


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