Miscegenation and the postwar nation
: interracial love, desire and white British identity in fictions of Britain and empire, 1947-1965

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


This thesis examines fictional representations of interracial love, desire and sexual relationships – so-called miscegenation – in both Britain and empire across the two decades that followed the Second World War. With a specific focus on how fictional interraciality inflects and reimagines conceptions of white postwar British masculinity, this study explores how the interracial novel contributed to redefining racial, national and gendered identity at mid-century. Whilst existing studies of postwar miscegenation revolve around interracial dynamics between white British women and men of colour, this project foregrounds fictions of interraciality that explore white men’s relationships with women of colour. I investigate how the tenets of patriarchal imperialism were at once bolstered, resisted and reconfigured through novelists’ explorations of the complex and contradictory politics surrounding miscegenation. Primarily a work of literary criticism, this study draws upon the writings of thirteen authors to illuminate, analyse and deconstruct intersecting and discordant discourses surrounding miscegenation in the postwar. Focusing on noncanonical, underexplored and even forgotten texts, I aim to broaden, deepen and above all complicate knowledge of interracial literature of the period. By analysing the works of writers from differing imperial positionalities, I open up unlikely textual interactions that cross race and gender as well as genre and literary movement, in the process diminishing contemporaneous distinctions between highbrow, middlebrow and popular fictions. This thesis contends that, though previously largely overlooked by cultural critics, the interracial novel emerged in the postwar as a boundary-disturbing literary sub-genre that deeply troubled the inner workings of white British identity.
Date of Award11 Jun 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorGill Plain (Supervisor) & Anindya Raychaudhuri (Supervisor)


  • Interracial love
  • Miscegenation
  • Interracial relationships
  • Postwar fiction
  • Interracial literature
  • Postcolonial fiction
  • Anthony Burgess
  • Kamala Markandaya
  • Edgar Mittelholzer
  • Postwar British novel

Access Status

  • Full text embargoed until
  • 26 February 2029

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