Margaret Brazier

Chapter 4 focuses on the road to the Medical Act 1858 which began the process of unification of the professions. It will be shown how the Act fell short of uniting the different orders of medical practitioners into a single medical profession. What the Act achieved by establishing the Medical Register was a means to identify practitioners recognised by the State as qualified to practise and entitled to be entered onto the register. The chapter reviews some of the many conflicting proposals for medical reform advanced by different groups. The first outcome of campaigns for reform, the Apothecaries Act 1815, is seen to be a damp squib. Sixteen Bills presented to Parliament from 1830 to 1858 failed. Noting that the only matter on which the orthodox agreed remained their abomination of unqualified healers all of whom the orthodox labelled as quacks, the chapter goes on to explore the use of the courts and prosecutions for manslaughter in attempts to scare unlicensed healers out of business. It is shown that the judges rejected pleas to privilege the licensed practitioner. Finally, the Medical Act 1858 and its lukewarm reception is assessed. The omission of measures to criminalise all unlicensed healers is explained. The Act marked a gradual move towards a partial merger of the orthodox professions making it easier for the courts to identify ‘responsible medical opinion’. Medicine can be seen to be a profession acquiring a stronger voice in debates about laws relating to matters such as abortion and anatomy.

in Law and healing
Steve Bentel

This chapter shows that the young white people who spent their nights sharing music and organising around musical activism in postcolonial London built a shared culture that struck an often-tenuous balance between culturally appropriating Black spaces and music and building friendships and solidarities within them. These spaces had the power to make such interactions banal but, particularly in the case of the Brixton Academy, they also foregrounded the possibility of inter-racial encounters.

in British culture after empire
Emily Horton

Emily Horton explores Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel, considering his negotiation of the discourses of memory and trauma in order to investigate their relevance to postwar migrant experience. Focusing on A Pale View of Hills’s repeated engagement with Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly, Horton demonstrates how Ishiguro provides a world literary critique of Orientalist thinking and exposes the discriminatory discourses underpinning Western accounts of Japanese culture. The novel, in this sense, questions stereotypical accounts of ‘Eastern fragility’ and victimhood, and their role in nurturing ‘false nationalist mythologies’ that fail to align with complexities of migratory experience. In addition to this world literary rereading, the chapter also investigates the lingering impact of memorial revision, guilt and disavowal in relation to the mother–daughter relationship of Etsuko and Niki, particularly in relation to their diasporic negotiation of the past. Providing a finely balanced critique of postwar Orientalism, as well as an acknowledgement of the historical ties to prewar Japanese imperialism, A Pale View of Hills negotiates what Horton terms ‘a multi-directional approach to history and memory’, disrupting any simplistic East v. West cultural binaries. Horton’s concentration on Ishiguro’s authorial fascination with the migratory nature of memory and the lingering effects of trauma develops a common thread that runs throughout the following chapters in the volume.

in Kazuo Ishiguro
Haunted atmospherics in The Buried Giant
Kristian Shaw

For some critics, Ishiguro’s 2015 novel The Buried Giantmarked an unexpected turn to fantasy, serving as an urgent parable for a nation hung up on the former glories of its cultural past. In ‘Disinterring the English sublime: haunted atmospherics in The Buried Giant’, Kristian Shaw frames the novel in relation to the political climate of twenty-first-century Britain. Drawing on Ishiguro’s own comments relating to nationalism, populism and the recent rise in xenophobic political rhetoric, Shaw suggests that Ishiguro’s post-Arthurian landscape contains allusions to mythical constructions of Englishness which were also deployed during the 2016 EU referendum campaign. Despite being published in the months leading to the referendum, the novel carries a clear anticipatory logic, gesturing to the nationalist violence and cultural amnesia which would come to define the subsequent post-Brexit period. The chapter goes on to demonstrate how Ishiguro utilises the fantasy genre to expose the fallacious nature of our foundational myths and warn of the dangers in assuming a backward-looking national perspective to attend to our troubled present. In developing these ties, Shaw argues that The Buried Giant attempts to disrupt what he terms the ‘English sublime’, forcing us to consider ‘the internal ailments affecting the body politic’ and pointing towards the need for England to radically overhaul its comforting cultural imaginary.

in Kazuo Ishiguro
Cynthia F. Wong

Cynthia F. Wong’s ‘Eloquence and empathy in A Pale View of Hills and An Artist of the Floating World’ builds on Horton’s analysis of Ishiguro’s first novel, offering a comparative reading of his first, and most typical, narrators. Indeed, Ishiguro’s early novels (his ‘Japanese’ works) share many geographical, thematic and stylistic similarities, perhaps foremost an exploitation of narrators rendered unreliable both because they suffer with imperfect memory and because they have, or appear to have, regrettable pasts. In her chapter Wong pays particular and careful attention to Etsuko and Ono, two characters who, as she argues counter to Ishiguro, are ‘more distinct and contrasting characters [than] claimed by their author’. In the first part of her chapter, ‘The duplicity of eloquence’, Wong traces the often-conflicted critical responses to her chosen subjects, indicating an ongoing ambiguity about whether their accounts of their occluded pasts are wilfully duplicitous or simply inaccurate, partial. In ‘Family resemblances and the domestic drama’, Wong focuses on Ono’s complex relationship with family, understood both literally and figuratively, while also highlighting Ishiguro’s recurring interest in family resemblance, and the manner in which this resemblance manifests as an organising principle in his body of work. Finally, in ‘Empathy unrealised’ Wong continues her exploration of familial relationships, this time thinking through the various characteristic failures of empathy and the fraught interpersonal relations negotiated in these two early novels.

in Kazuo Ishiguro
Peter Sloane

In a reading of Ishiguro’s most affecting novel, Never Let Me Go, Peter Sloane situates the work in a longer context of clone and posthuman fictions, beginning with Frankenstein, Brave New World and Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang. Informed by and developing from Suzanne Keen, Martha Nussbaum, and Anne Whitehead’s important and influential insights into the complicated causal relationship between novel reading and the capacity for empathy, Sloane proposes that literary fiction has a peculiar power to provoke empathy, but that empathy is predicated on finding in its subject something which resembles the ‘human’, an uncovering of shared values, shared traits, shared hopes. However, he argues, Never Let Me Go very deliberately resists readings of the clones as human, and rather fosters an empathetic environment in which compassion is founded not on our shared humanity but on our shared posthumanity. The novel very pointedly highlights the various ways in which the clones, Kathy H. and her small, tragic band of friends, not simply lack fundamental human attributes but are in fact defined by these apparent absences (futurity, fertility, self-actuation). Yet as Sloane argues, in the posthuman age and in the contemporary novel, ‘both text and reader need to be epistemologically and even ontologically resituated in relation to the refiguration of the humanities to the posthumanities’.

in Kazuo Ishiguro
Tasnim Qutait

In Robin Yassin-Kassab’s novel The Road From Damascus (2008), Muntaha, one of the central characters, refuses to identify with ‘the Arab nation’, stating ‘I’m British anyway. I’m a British Muslim’. Through yoking a transnational religious affiliation to her country of settlement, Muntaha distances herself from Arab diaspora contexts and instead inscribes herself into a multicultural Britain. Robin Yasin-Kassab is one of a growing number of Arab novelists writing in English, including the likes of Ahdaf Soueif, Jamal Mahjoub, Selma Debbagh and Leila Aboulela, who take the subjectivities and displacements of Arab immigrant subjects in Britain as their theme. Their novels unfold as a drama of choice about belonging in diaspora, examining how the parallel and sometimes intersecting identities Arab and/or Muslim have been transformed in recent decades. This chapter demonstrates how these writers represent the impact of contemporary politics on Arab immigrants in Britain. In doing so, their novels reflect on the lingering legacy of empire and grapple with the specters of colonialism that continue to animate present conflicts.

in British culture after empire
Ed Dodson

Postcolonial literary analysis – that is, analysis directed towards the questions of race, empire and decolonisation that form the purview of this book – is applied typically to Black and Asian writers. Resisting such racial categorisation, this chapter focuses on Graham Swift’s Booker Prize-winning Last Orders (1996) and in particular the novel’s figuration of the Second World War and its aftermath in global and imperial terms. Swift uses this historical framing to examine the effects of decolonisation – the Fall of Aden/Eden – on the dynamics of race and class in postwar England. In this way, Swift takes his readers inside the lived experience of demythologisation, or the difficulties of ‘working through’ (in Paul Gilroy’s well-known formulation) tenacious imperial mythologies. By conveying the power of myth, alongside its painful contradictions and false promises, Swift’s fiction does not offer postcolonial subversion or critique but examines the breaking from and clinging to imperial ideas and desires in postwar England. As this analysis begins to demonstrate, postcolonial questions of race, empire and decolonisation cannot be ‘bracketed’ by authorial ethnicity; these questions are at stake whenever we are reading, teaching and writing about contemporary English literature.

in British culture after empire
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Battles over imperial memory in contemporary Britain
Astrid Rasch

This chapter explores the heated debate over the memory of the British Empire through an examination of the public interventions by scholars Nigel Biggar and Niall Ferguson and their critics. On either side of the debate, scholars agree that the colonial past is too complex to be reduced to a simple question of for or against. To begin to understand why the debate is nevertheless so fierce, this chapter studies it as a case of disagreement over ‘exemplar empires’. The chapter argues that contemporary British memory culture is marked by a singularisation of the imperial past. Here, the Empire is summed up in a few emblematic images and episodes that are seen as representative of the whole. This gives rise to disagreement over which exemplars are the most appropriate, how they should be judged and a fear that one account will crowd out the other. The chapter explores how Ferguson and Biggar and their critics have discussed the British Empire often using similar rhetorical flourishes: accusing their opponents of reducing past complexities, disagreeing over how best to sum up empire, questioning each other’s moral evaluation of it and worrying that their version of the past will be forgotten.

in British culture after empire
Aidan Beatty

In Chapter Four, I cross back over the Atlantic, to investigate the most extreme example of Lockean conceptions of private property; the notion that certain human beings were themselves a natural resource awaiting privatisation. George Fitzhugh was one of the most prominent ideologues of slavery in 1850s America; in just a few years he produced a slew of newspaper articles and two books – Sociology of the south and Cannibals all! – in which he not only defended the ‘peculiar institution’ of American chattel slavery but also went on the offensive, constructing an image of the ‘free’ north as the true home of oppression and economic violence in antebellum America. And in opposition to an imaginary depiction of a chaotic and violent capitalist north, Fitzhugh constructed an even more fantastical image of a harmonious, peaceful and well-ordered south in which private property was dominant (including chattel property), slaves were happy and obedient, and male heads-of-household were never challenged or questioned.

in Private property and the fear of social chaos