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South Asian Writers in Twentieth-Century BritainCulture in Translation$
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Ruvani Ranasinha

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199207770

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199207770.001.0001

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Assimilation and Resistance: Kamala Markandaya and A. Sivanandan

Assimilation and Resistance: Kamala Markandaya and A. Sivanandan

(p.145) 3 Assimilation and Resistance: Kamala Markandaya and A. Sivanandan
South Asian Writers in Twentieth-Century Britain

Ruvani Ranasinha

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines Kamala Markandaya's work alongside the writings of her contemporary, Sri Lankan activist Ambalavener Sivanandan. On arrival in Britain, Sivanandan assimilated, not into dominant social formations, but into radical milieus that offered a politics of resistance. In different ways, Sivanandan's and Markandaya's responses problematise clear-cut notions of cultural assimilation, and even of ‘dominant’ expectations and a monolithic ‘centre’. Markandaya's fictional interrogation of the Raj forms a response to liberal humanist critiques of colonialism within Britain during the 1960s and 1970s, and was warmly embraced by the Eurocentric parameters of the discourse of Commonwealth literature. Her work forms a sharp contrast to Sivanandan's radical and politicised Marxist polemics, evident in his later novel that was informed by his participation in anti-racist socialist struggles in Sri Lanka and Britain during this era.

Keywords:   Britain, cultural assimilation, resistance, politics, Kamala Markandaya, Ambalavener Sivanandan, Sri Lanka, colonialism, Commonwealth literature

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