Not Just a Brexit Story: Assessing the Racial and Xenophobic Elements in Brexit and in Ali Smith's Autumn and Bernardine Evaristo's Girl Woman Other

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When the United Kingdom decided to leave the European Union in June 2016, the social dynamics of the multicultural British society changed. This thesis looks into the racist and xenophobic connotations attached to Brexit discourse and the way it has manifested itself in BrexLit novels Autumn (2016) by Ali Smith and Girl, Woman, Other (2019) by Bernardine Evaristo. Three common themes of Brexit campaigns that influenced the public debate were: British heritage, history and immigration. These themes are shaped by racism and xenophobia and reinforced by the ideology of white supremacy. The analyses of Autumn and Girl, Woman, Other reflect these themes and the racial and xenophobic elements of pre- and post-referendum Britain. The conclusion of the thesis presents a comparison between the depictions of racism and xenophobia in British society in both novels. Autumn portrays the immediate impact of the referendum on British society, while Girl, Woman, Other connects Brexit and the aftermath of the referendum to more deep-rooted socio-political problems that have been part of Britain’s past. Brexit is a turning point in Britain’s multicultural identity and practice. BrexLit novels have taken an activist approach to storytelling. Keywords: Brexit, racism, xenophobia, BrexLit, Ali Smith, Bernardine Evaristo
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