Week 13. Immigration and Decolonisation. Reading for Britain in the 20th Century



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Week 13. Immigration and Decolonisation.

Reading for Britain in the 20th Century.


  1. To what extent did Commonwealth migration reconfigure the identity of the British nation?

  2. Why did Enoch Powell make his ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech of 1968?

  3. What was the relationship between state policy and the rise of the Far Right in Britain in the 1970s?

  4. What does it mean to say racism is historically contingent? Provide examples of this. [This question is asking you to engage with the core reading by Errol Lawrence]


Core reading/listening [choose at least two of these].

Errol Lawrence, ‘Just plain common sense: the “roots” of racism’, in Centre for Contemporary Culture Studies, The Empire Strikes Back: Race and Racism in 70s Britain (London: Hutchison, 1982), 47-94. [This chapter is digitised, but there are a number of copies of the book in the library. If you want to look at many of the other very interesting essays in this collection].


C. Waters, '"Dark Strangers" in our Midst: Discourses of Race and Nation in Britain, 1947-1963', Journal of British Studies, 36 (1997)
Amy C. Whipple, ‘Revisiting the Rivers of Blood Controversy: Letters to Enoch Powell’, Journal of British Studies 48:3 (2009), 717-35
Zaiba Malik, Radio programme on the history of the Asian Youth Movement, BBC radio 4, available to listen and http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01dtkjb
Further Reading [read at least one of these]:

  • On the imperial context: J. Darwin, Britain and Decolonization: The Retreat from Empire in the Post-War World (1988); Stuart Ward (ed.), British Culture and the End of Empire (2001).

  • On race in Britain and the end of Empire: Bill Schwarz, White Man’s World (2011); Paul Rich, 'Imperial Decline and the Resurgence of English National Identity, 1918-1979', in T. Kushner & K. Lunn (eds.), Traditions of Intolerance (1989), pp. 33-52; Bill Schwarz, 'Reveries of Race: The Closing of the Imperial Moment', in B. Connekin, F. Mort & C. Waters (eds.), Moments of Modernity, pp. 189-207; Bill Schwarz, 'The Re-Racialization of England', Race and Class, 38 (1996), 65-78; Paul Rich, Prospero’s Return? Historical Essays on Race, Culture and British Society (1994); Wendy Webster, Imagining Home: Gender, ‘Race’, and National Identity, 1945-1964 (1998); A. Ritschelle, ‘Disturbing the People’s Peace: Patriotism and Respectable Racism in British Reponses to Rhodesian Independence’, in Levine and Grayzel (eds.), Gender, Labour, War and Empire (2009); Elizabeth Buettner, ‘Would you Let your Daughter Marry a Negro? Race and Sex in 1950s Britain’, in Levine and Grayzel, Gender, Labour, War and Empire (2009).




  • On post-war immigration: Tony Kushner, 'Immigration and Race Relations in Postwar Britain' (chapter 23) in Paul Johnson (ed.), 20th Century Britain; C. Holmes ‘Immigration’ in T.R. Gourvish & A. O’Day (eds.), Britain since 1945 (1991), 209-31; Colin Homes, John Bull's Island: Immigrations and British Society, 1870-1971 (1988); C. Holmes, Immigrants and Minorities in British Society; Kathleen Paul, ‘From Subjects to Immigrants: Black Britons and National Identity, 1948-62’, in R. Weight & A. Beach (eds.), The Right to Belong: Citizenship and National Identity in Britain, 1930-1960 (1998), pp. 223-48; Kathleeen Paul, Whitewashing Britain: Race and Citizenship in the Post-War Era (1997); I. Spencer, British Immigration since 1945 (1997); W. Webster, Imagining Home: Gender ‘Race’ and National Identity, 1945-64 (1998); P. Thane, ‘Population Politics in Post-War British Culture’, in B. Connekin, F. Mort & C. Waters (eds.), Moments of Modernity: Reconstructing Britain, 1945-64 (1999); K. Lunn, Race and Labour in Britain, 1830-1980 (1998); Randell Hansen, ‘The Politics of Citizenship in 1940s Britain’, 20th Century British History, 10 (1999), 67-95.

  • On the politics of immigration and national identity: S. Brooke, 'The Conservative Party, Immigration and National Identity, 1948-1968', in Ina Zweiniger-Bargielowska & Martin Francis (eds.), The Conservative Party and British Society; K. Paul, ‘“British Subjects” and “British Stock”: Labour’s Postwar Imperialism’, Journal of British Studies, 35 (1995), 233-76; M.& T. Phillips, Windrush: The Irrestible Rise of Multi-Racial Britain (1998).

  • On the history of Black Britain: P. Fryer, Staying Power: The History Of Black People in Britain (1984); Bill Schwarz, ‘Claudia Jones and the West Indian Gazette: Reflections on the Emergence of Post-Colonial Britain’, Twentieth Century British History, 14 (2003); Paul Gilroy & Stuart Hall, Black Britain: A Photographic History (London: Saqi, 2007).

  • On post-war race relations: Marcus Collins, ‘Pride and Prejudice: West Indian Men in Mid-Twentieth Century Britain’, Journal of British Studies, 40 (2001), 391-418; John Davis, ‘Rents and Race in 1960s London: New Light on Rachmanism’, Twentieth Century British History, 12 (2001), 69-95; Dennis Dean, ‘The Race Relations policy of the First Wilson Government’, 20th Century British History, 11 (2000), 259-83.

  • On post-war racism: C. Holmes, A Tolerant Country? Immigrants, Refugees and Minorities in Britain (1991); Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, The Empire Strikes Back: Race and Racism in 70s Britain (1982); Robert Miles & Annie Phizacklea, Whiteman's Country (1984); J. Solomos, Race and Racism in Postwar Britain (1987).

  • On race relations: H. Goulbourne, Race Relations in Britain since 1945 (1998).

  • On antiracism: Goodyer, ‘Rock Against Racism: Multiculturalism and Political Mobilisation, 1976-1981’, Immigrants and Minorities 22:1 (2003), 44-62; Anandi Ramamarthy, Black Star: Britain’s Asian Youth Movements (Pluto, 2013)

  • On Enoch Powell and Powellism: Patrick Cosgrave, The Lives of Enoch Powell (1989); Douglas Schoen, Enoch Powell and the Powellites (1977); S. Heffer biography.


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