We’ve been shining a spotlight on each of the artists and creative leaders taking part in our Abundance programme, delivered in partnership with Coventry UK City of Culture 2021. The programme brings the cohort together for a series of workshops, supporting them to develop their skills and pursue ideas for individual projects in the lead-up to Coventry’s 2021 Carnival of Lights. Today, we’re introducing Kauser Husain, a creative writer and Social Science researcher. Find out more about her in her guest blog below.
My day job involves working at Coventry University within Research Services where I support the day-to-day delivery of funded projects within the Institute of Creative Cultures. I am also an active member of the university’s BME staff Network where I have designed and launched the network website and assist in organising monthly events and meetings.
I have an undergraduate degree in English Literature and recently completed a Master’s degree in Popular Culture, which explored how media and culture is produced and consumed. My research area particularly focused on the representation of British Asian youth subcultures in literature, film, television, music and fashion.
Previously, I taught Literature to undergraduate students as part of the first Graduate Teaching Assistant scheme launched by my university. I delivered taster sessions and workshops to schools, colleges and communities so that people are able to make informed decisions about their careers.
During this time, I co-ordinated events to help engage and empower students in their learning, with inspiring guest speakers such as Akala, as well as some of the people involved in Channel 4’s Extremely British Muslims. I also organised trips including a visit to Leicester’s Literary Festival to see Jacqueline Wilson.
I come from a working class, migrant background which is why I am passionate about empowering others and why the majority of my career has been within the Education sector, from mentoring schoolchildren and tutoring speakers of other languages, to teaching Literature, recruitment for Higher Education and academic research.
As a writer, I take a socially engaged approach, drawing inspiration from community and social research that I have conducted. I am keen to amplify the voices and experiences of marginalised communities through short stories, micro-fiction and script-writing. I am particularly interested in South Asian migration to the UK and second and third generation experiences of education, employment, and communities, as well as long-term illness and disability.
You can read selected pieces of my work by visiting my blog here. During the 2020 lockdown period I won a writing competition for a piece titled ‘How Did We Get Here’. I hope one day to publish a collection of short stories and plays that depict the lives of British Asians and all of their complexities that move beyond stereotypical representations that dominate Western media.
I am both proud and humbled by my cultural heritage and the community that I come from, and I hope that the Abundance network will not only empower me to fulfil my creative ambitions, but will also help to empower my community.
Being part of the Abundance programme offers me a chance to push myself into realising my ideas and gets me working actively on a project that I am passionate about. I want to use this as a chance to give a platform to the stories that I have come across and to raise awareness of the diverse community that exists in Coventry.
Since the Carnival of Lights sets out to celebrate South Asian heritage and culture, my project is about exploring the history of South Asian migration and formulation of British Asian culture. South Asians have long been settled in Britain since the time of the British Empire. However, after the Second World War, from the 1950s-1970s, there was a mass migration from the New Commonwealth countries such as Pakistan and India in order to assist with the labour shortage.
These settled migrants are now the grandparents or parents of many second and third generation young South Asians who have been born and raised in Coventry. Often the sacrifices and contribution these South Asians have made to British culture is overlooked.
My idea is to develop a walking tour in the area of Hillfields that will complement the Carnival of Lights in the week following the parade. By incorporating the stories of local migrants against the backdrop of the political and social history of the area, their contribution will be recognised and valued as a key part of Coventry’s history.
I hope that recording their memories and stories will give younger generations an opportunity to develop a greater understanding of their cultural heritage. The project will also support the Coventry City of Culture Trust’s mission to celebrate the diversity of the city.