Wasafiri: The History of a little magazine and the material conditions affecting the publication and reception of BAME writing in Britain 1980-2020
CDA in collaboration with Queen Mary University London and the British Library
This project will explore the background and history of Wasafiri, a ‘little magazine’ known since the early 1980s for its pioneering role in providing a critical forum and platform for Britain’s black, Asian and minority ethnic writers. Drawing on unique archival sources, now housed in the British Library Contemporary Collections and not as yet publicly available, the particular history of this magazine will act as a paradigm to offer broader insights into the material conditions affecting the production, publication and reception of BAME writing in Britain from the fraught era of Thatcherism in the 1980s to the present. The project is particularly timely given the BL’s recent acquisition of the archive, the magazine’s celebration of 35 years of publishing and the scarcity of material currently available in tracking the history of this writing, including the early history of several now well-known figures, featured in the magazine long before they were to rise to national and global prominence. The prescience of the magazine’s mission in terms of its global vision and inclusive aim to diversify the canon will be illuminating in the context of postcolonial studies now and moves to decolonise the curriculum across the educational and publishing.