A Leisure Space, Revisited: Resolving the “Problem” of the Mixed-Race Child in Colin MacInnes's City of Spades

Marquita Renee Smith


British postwar leisure spaces such as the “Cosmopolitan” club in Colin MacInnes’s City of Spades served as sites for “immoral behaviour” such as drug use and sexual encounters that transgressed racial divides. According to Mica Nava, the interracial relationships fostered in these spaces were signifiers of a racially progressive modernity, but the perspective offered in City of Spades is more critical. In the novel, these subcultural leisure spaces are re-inhabited by two mixed-race children—the permanent markers of many of these otherwise fleeting interracial couplings. I approach City of Spades through theoretical frameworks of the leisure space and postcolonial interactions in Britain, in an effort to highlight how miscegenation in postwar Britain is criminalized through the bodies it produces. I argue that by giving stage to British subculture, City of Spades complicates dominant readings of racial acceptance, progressive modernity, and successful integration of mixed-race children into postwar British society.


miscegenation; leisure space; postcolonialism; cosmopolitanism; race; reproduction

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