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Abstract

In his article "Transnational Uses of Mafia Imagery in Zadie Smith's White Teeth" Andrea Ciribuco discusses the literary representation of multiculturalism in Zadie Smith's first novel, White Teeth (2000). The novel focuses on multicultural encounters in Great Britain in the second half of the twentieth century. This article focuses on one site for these encounters: the character of Millat Iqbal, who joins a gang of teenagers and subsequently a radical Islamic group in his problematic search for identity and belonging. This search is characterized by Millat's tendency to define himself by reference to well-known pop-cultural Mafia figures, whom he admires. This article argues that, in their attention to Mafia narratives in film and television rather than to actual Italian diaspora, these Mafia references are representative of Smith's portrayal of multicultural space. In establishing this postmodern, ironic connection between Millat and the Mafia, White Teeth demonstrates how the de-contextualization and re-contextualization of meaning, made possible by global exchanges and communication, may proceed in unpredictable ways to make sense of different intercultural encounters in a globalized world.