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Naming to Control

This week we are looking at anti-immigrationism, its forms of expression, the ways in which anti-immigration movements represent themselves and the ways in which they have been represented in the media and other discourse. Who are the 'anti-immigrationists' and why? How has fear and resentment of migrants intersected with race and racism (and class and classism, sex and sexism, norms and normativities) in the past, and how do we navigate this crowded and dangerous intersection today?


Lymuella et al., sources

Nidhi et al., sources

Required Readings:

THEN choose one or two from the important interventions below

  • Rob Waters, ‘Thinking Black: Peter Fryer’s Staying Power and the Politics of Writing Black British History in the 1980s’, History Workshop Journal 82 (Autumn 2016), 104-120.
  • Hilary Pilkington, Loud and Proud: Passion and Politics in the English Defence League (Manchester: MUP, 2016), Chapter 6:'"Second Class citizens": Re Ordering Privilege and Prejudice' , pp 154-176. COURSE EXTRACT You might also find Chapter 4 (pp. 92-124) interesting.
  • Selvarajah S, Deivanayagam TA, Lasco G, et al. Categorisation and Minoritisation. BMJ Global Health 2020;5:e004508. doi:10.1136/ bmjgh-2020-004508

For a look at intersections between the media and the medical, see Charles T. Adeyanju and Nicole Neverson, ‘“There will be a Next Time”: Media Discourse about an “Apocalyptic Vision” of Immigration, Racial Diversity, and Health Risks’, Canadian Ethnic Studies 39: 1-2 (January 2007): 71-105. (Project Muse).
And for an interesting look at the origins of contemporary identity politics of the right in the US, have a look at 'Post-Traumatic Whiteness: How Vietnam Veterans Became the Basis for a New White Identity Politics' from the Los Angeles Review of Books

Discussion Questions:

  • As historians and citizens, how should we think and talk about migration? What is the role of language, including offensive language, in debates about migration and responses to migrants?
  • What roles are played by the media (including social media), personal and community experience, and social and political institutions in shaping responses to migrant groups and individuals?

Background Readings:

Irving Lewis Allen, Unkind Words: Ethnic Labeling from Redskin to WASP (New York: Bergin and Garvey, 1990).

Lawrence Baldassaro, 'Dashing Dagos and Walloping Wops: Media Portrayal of Italian American Major Leaguers before World War II', NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture, vol. 14 no. 1, 2005, pp. 98-106. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/nin.2005.0033

Elliot Barkan, 'Return of the Nativists? California Public Opinion and Immigration in the 1980s and 1990s', Social Science History, vol. 27 no. 2, 2003, pp. 229-283. Project MUSE,

Christine Biscoff, Francesca Falk, Sylvia Kafehsy, eds, Images of Illegalized Immigration: Towards a Critical Iconology of Politics (London: Transaction Publishers, 2010).

Roberta Bivins, 'Picturing Race in the British National Health Service, 1948-1988', Twentieth Century British History2017: doi: 10.1093/tcbh/hww059

Jennifer Anne Boittin, ‘Black in France: The Language and Politics of Race during the Late Third Republic’, French Politics, Culture and Society, 27(2) (2009): 23–46.

Tina M. Campt, ‘Family Matters: Race, Gender and Belonging in Black German Photography’, Social Text, 27(1)/98 (2009): 83–114.

Tina M. Campt, ‘Pictures of “US”? Blackness, Diaspora and the Afro-German Subject’, in Darlene Clark Hine, Trica Danielle Keaton and Stephen Small (eds.), Black Europe and the African Diaspora (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2009), pp. 63–83.

Leo R. Chavez, Covering Immigration: Popular Images and the Politics of the Nation (Berleley: UC Press, 2001).

Fred Constant, ‘Talking Race in Color-blind France: Equality Denied, “Blackness” Reclaimed’, in Darlene Clark Hine, Trica Danielle Keaton and Stephen Small (eds.), Black Europe and the African Diaspora (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2009), pp. 145–60.

Sterling Eisiminger, ‘Ethnic and National Stereotypes and Slurs’, American Humor, vol. 7, no. 2, 1980, pp. 9–13. JSTOR,

Yumiko Hamai, ‘“Imperial Burden” or “Jews of Africa”: An Analysis of Political and Media Discourse in the Ugandan Asian Crisis (1972)’, Twentieth Century British History 22:3 (2011), 415-436.

Ian Hanley López, Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class(Oxford: OUP, 2014).

Joe Moran, ‘“Stand Up and Be Counted”: Hughie Green, the 1970s and Popular Memory’, History Workshop Journal, 70 (Autumn 2010), pp.172-98 – useful as context for resistance to multiculturalism.

Carol M. Motley and Kellina M. Craig-Henderson. 'Epithet or Endearment?: Examining Reactions among Those of the African Diaspora to an Ethnic Epithet', Journal of Black Studies, vol. 37, no. 6, 2007, pp. 944–963. JSTOR,

Leon Rappoport, Punchlines: The case for racial, ethnic, and gender humor (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2005).

Villanueva, Margaret A. “Ethnic Slurs or Free Speech? Politics of Representation in a Student Newspaper.” Anthropology & Education Quarterly, vol. 27, no. 2, 1996, pp. 168–185. JSTOR,

Jane Warren, '"Wogspeak": Transformations of Australian English', Journal of Australian Studies 23: 62 (1999) pp. 85-94.

Other Resources -- handle with care, and prepare for language and attitudes you may find disturbing!

Australian television comedy: search YouTube for 'Wog Boy' for lots of video clips (read our background reading on 'Wogspeak' first, though).

The British Film Institute has a useful guide to race on British Television here: read it and then head to YouTube! You can find clips from:

Till Death Us Do Part (BBC, 1965-75 -- have a look our required article too: Gavin Schaffer, ‘“Till Death Us Do Part” and the BBC: Racial politics and the British working classes 1965-75’, Journal of Contemporary History, 45 [2010], 454–77);

Curry and Chips (ITV, 1969);

Love Thy Neighbour (1972-76);

Mind Your Language (ITV, 1977-79);

Mixed Blessings (1978-80); and

Tandoori Nights (1985-87)

all on YouTube, along with a wide range of others. Again, be alert as you watch to change over time -- and be prepared for attitudes and language that are pretty shocking.

Later efforts:

Desmond's (1989-94);

The Kumars at Number 42 (BBC, 2001-); and

Goodness Gracious Me (BBC, 1998-2000) may also be useful.