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Madhvani, Jaya Shakira Kamlesh (2020) Rethinking 'place': the 'non-place' in London literature and film. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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Compelling theories as to the socially produced nature of ‘place’ exist, which open up the possibility for analysis of and reflection on the ways in which we construct ‘place’. Thinking about ‘place’ as socially produced, rather than as material, is valuable for exploring and for perhaps negotiating some of the problems and challenges associated with today’s globalised, interconnected spatial and human geographies, such as social inequality. This thesis contributes to these discussions on the constructed nature of ‘place’ through the literary and cultural analysis of two novels and two films set in London after the beginning of the twenty-first century, those being Ishtiyaq Shukri’s novel The Silent Minaret (2005), Rachid Bouchareb’s film London River (2009), Zadie Smith’s NW novel (2012) and Sally El Hosaini’s film My Brother The Devil (2012). The analyses of the case studies presented in this thesis are theoretically framed by Marc Aug.’s concept of the ‘non-place’ as discussed in his text Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity (1992). As Aug. states, the idea of the ‘non-place’ is directly associated with social isolation and the dissolution of community. This thesis therefore fills a gap in existing literary and cultural criticism by applying the framework of the ‘non-place’ to the analyses out of an understanding of ‘place’ as socially produced, and, moreover, by situating and validating the analyses of the primary material within a postcolonial methodology with a view to developing postcolonial scholarship. Given that the idea of the ‘non-place’ is linked to social polarisation and excessive individualisation, this piece of research concludes that the novels and films analysed here are of importance as they open up questions as to whether we might imagine ‘place’ differently in order to reflect on, if not to negotiate, the welfare and cohesion of contemporary human societies.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Amina Yaqin
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2021 19:21

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