Ashley Dawson is the author of two monographs: Mongrel Nation: Diasporic Culture and the Making of Postcolonial Britain
(University of Michigan Press, 2007) and The Routledge Concise History of Twentieth-Century British Literature
(2013). The first of these, Mongrel Nation,
surveys the history of the United Kingdom’s African, Asian, and Caribbean populations from 1948 to the present, working at the juncture of cultural studies, literary criticism, and postcolonial theory. Dawson argues that during the past fifty years Asian and black intellectuals from Sam Selvon to Zadie Smith have continually challenged the United Kingdom’s exclusionary definitions of citizenship, using innovative forms of cultural expression to reconfigure definitions of belonging in the postcolonial age. Mongrel Nation
examines popular culture and explores topics such as the nexus of race and gender, the growth of transnational politics, and the clash between first- and second-generation immigrants. The book sheds critical light on a European culture roiled by crises produced by imperialism, past and present. Dawson’s second monograph applies this postcolonial lens to literature written in Britain across the twentieth century, arguing that the imperial metropole became a key node in transnational networks of radical intellectuals and artists from Britain’s colonies Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. Radical aesthetic work (no matter what its political orientation) was a natural accomplice to and corollary of the radical political movements that were to fight successfully for liberation in the second half of the twentieth century.
Professor Dawson is also the co-editor of four essay collections, all of which have a strong scholar-activist slant. The first of these, Against Apartheid: The Case for Boycotting Israeli Universities
(Haymarket, 2015), focuses on the complicity of Israeli universities in maintaining the occupation of Palestine, and on the repression of academic and political freedom for Palestinians. The volume explains why scholars and students throughout the world should refuse to do business with Israeli institutions. Previous volumes Dawson has co-edited have focused on the global justice movement (The State, Democracy, and the Struggle for Global Justice
), on academic politics in the conjunction of neoliberalism and the War on Terror (Dangerous Professors: Academic Freedom and the National Security Campus
), and on cultures of US empire following 9/11 (Exceptional State: Contemporary U.S. Culture and the New Imperialism
He is a long-time member of the Social Text Collective, where he served for many years as editor of Social Text Online.
In this capacity, he curated dossiers of essays on topics as diverse as the legacy of Black British intellectual Stuart Hall
, the strengths and pitfalls of the Occupy movement
, and the politics of debt
, among many other subjects.
Dawson is the author of more than 50 articles in peer reviewed journals and edited collections. Many of these articles can be accessed through his personal website, which can be found here.