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Seminar 8

Seminar 8: The Empire Strikes Back: Race and Nation in Post-War Britain

1. How did the aims of British immigration policy change after the Second World War?

2. To what extent and why did national identity become more closely associated with whiteness in post-war Britain?

3. What was the significance of the furore over Enoch Powell ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech?

4. What was the impact of the end of Empire on national identity in Britain?

Seminar Reading

Kathleen Paul, ‘”British Subjects” and “British Stock”: Labour’s Postwar Imperialism’, Journal of British Studies, 35 (1995), 233-76

Chris Waters, ‘”Dark Strangers” in our Midst: Discourses of Race and Nation in Britain, 1947-1963’, Journal of British Studies, 36 (1997), 207-38.

Wendy Webster, ‘There’ll always be an England: Representations of Colonial Wars and Immigration, 1948-1968’, Journal of British Studies, 46 (2001), 557-84

And for a historical overview of the period, see Peter Clarke, Hope and Glory, pp. 319-357

Further Reading

Angus Calder, ‘A Man For All Cultures: The Careers of Learie Constantine’, Culture, Sport and Society, 6 (2003), 19-42

Robin Cohen, Frontiers of Identity: The British and the Others


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

Paul Gilroy, There Ain’t no Black in the Union Jack: The Cultural Politics of Race and Nation (1987)

Randell Hansen, ‘The Politics of Citizenship in 1940s Britain’, 20th Century British History, 10 (1999), 67-95

Dilip Hiro, Black British, White British (1971)

Colin Holmes, John Bull’s Island: Immigration and British Society, 1871-1971 (1988)

Colin Holmes, A Tolerant Country? Immigrants, Refugees and Minorities in Britain


Stephen Howe, ‘”Internal Decolonisation”: British Politics since Thatcher as Post-Colonial Trauma’, 20th Century British History, 14 (2003), 286-304.

Jessica Jacobson, ‘Perceptions of Britishness’, Nations and Nationalism, 97 ( ), 181-99

Tony Kushner, We Europeans? Mass-Observation, ‘Race’ and British Identity in the 20th Century (2004)

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)

* Kathleen Paul, Whitewashing Britain: Race and Citizenship in the Post-War Era (1997)

Mike and Trevor Phillips, Windrush: The Irrestible Rise of Multi-Racial Britain


Paul Rich, ‘Imperial Decline and the Resurgence of English National Identity, 1918-1979’, in T. Kushner and K. Lunn (eds.), Traditions of Intolerance (1989), pp. 33-52

Sonya Rose, ‘Race, Empire and British Wartime National Identity, 1939-45’, Historical Research, 74 (2001), 220-37

Anne Rush, ‘Imperial Identity in Colonial Minds: Harold Moody and the League of Coloured Peoples, 1931-50’, Twentieth Century British History, 13 (2002), 356-83

Anne Rush, ‘Reshaping British History: The Historiography of West Indians in Britain in the Twentieth Century’, History Compass, 5, 2 (2007), 463-84

Bill Schwarz, ‘Claudia Jones and the West Indian Gazette: Reflections on the Emergence of Post-Colonial Britain’, Twentieth Century British History, 14 (2003)

Bill Schwarz, ‘Reveries of Race: The Closing of the Imperial Moment’, in Becky Conekin, Frank Mort & Chris Waters (eds.), Moments of Modernity, 189-207

Ian Spencer, British Immigration since 1945 (1998)

* Stuart Ward, British Culture and the End of Empire (2001)

* Wendy Webster, Imagining Home: Gender, ‘Race’, and National Identity, 1945-1964 (1998)