1. An understanding of how readers in Central Scotland make sense of
diasporic writing

Despite the current UK interest in diasporic texts (e.g. Small Island) and authors (e.g. Zadie Smith), little is yet known about the actual readers of migrant literature and of how they make sense of the texts they read. Still less is known about the consumption and production of meaning in relation to these texts beyond the metropolitan centre. One of our primary objectives within this context is a detailed analysis of the reception of diasporic cultural production in Central Scotland. By recording a network of 5 reading groups in this region, empirical access to the ‘live’ reception of diasporic texts will be made available for the first time.

2. A comparative analysis of reception at transnational levels

Viewed in isolation the Scottish reception data tells us little about diasporic
cultural production as a global, or transnational event. Our aim is to develop the case study of readers in Central Scotland to produce a comparative reading of diasporic reception by extending the network to incorporate a further 5 groups in Canada, India, North Africa, and the Caribbean. Reading groups within these dispersed locations will be recorded discussing the same texts as their Scottish counterparts, allowing us to identify and assess similarities and differences between reading values, priorities and interpretations. All reading groups will be networked via an online chat room, allowing individual readers to extend their discussion of the texts within a larger virtual 'community'.

3. The ‘devolution’ of a diasporic literary canon

Our proposal is motivated by the fact that contemporary studies of diaspora in the arts and humanities are founded upon a largely unexplored discrepancy. Despite revelations in cultural and postcolonial studies since the 1980s concerning the nomadic, itinerant nature of migrant identity, there remains the sense of a genuine place (London, Bombay, New York) of diasporic activity. Diasporic cultural production and criticism within the UK is unequivocally London- centred. Since the 1980s canonical and proto-canonical works by Hanif Kureishi, Andrea Levy, Salman Rushdie and Monica Ali have helped make the link between the migrant and the metropolis axiomatic. The aim of this project is not to question the significance of the capital for diasporic writing, or to propose a separate canon organized around some kind of literary ‘north-south divide’. Rather, our objective is to promote the presence of a ‘devolved’ diasporic culture within the UK, showcasing the work of writers in Central Scotland. We will do this through the production of an anthology of ‘devolving’ diasporic literature in Scotland, the North of England and the Midlands (Bloodaxe), a database (see below), and a programme of arts events in Central Scotland, including a writing a competition and a stage adaptation of Jackie Kay's The Adoption Papers.

4. The assistance of public institutions in Central Scotland in showcasing the cultural contribution of diasporic communities

The project will work in close collaboration with local lending libraries and the Macrobert Theatre (http://www.macrobert.org/) in order highlight the cultural contribution of Central Scotland’s South Asian, African and Caribbean communities. Our close engagement with reading groups and audiences at these public institutions will allow sustained involvement with a wide cross section of local stakeholders, from the ‘host’ as well as the ‘migrant’ community. We will also produce a searchable database including bibliographical details of diasporic writing and performances in Central Scotland, 1980-present. In 2004-5 the Lottery funded £334,244 arts initiatives in Scotland dealing with 'cultural diversity', we want to ensure such present and past projects are documented so that the extent of 'diasporic' cultural production in Scotland can be appreciated.







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