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Foreword to Robbie Shilliam's Race and the Undeserving Poor

Title: 'Foreword', in Robbie Shilliam (2018) Race and the Undeserving Poor: From Abolition to Brexit, Newcastle upon Tyne: Agenda Publishing.

Extract from text: The great merit to be found in Robbie Shilliam's book is just how clearly his voice comes across. He explores the lineage of repeated political attempts in Britain from the eighteenth century onwards to bracket off 'the deserving poor' from the broader category of 'the poor' in general. Some marker of difference must be called upon to distinguish those who do from those who do not merit political sympathy for their plight and state support to lessen their day-to-day grind of making ends meet. Shilliam shows that, often, the simple characteristic of what you look like was enough for a person of colour to be relegated from the deserving category. At other times, behaivoural traits became the means of differentiation, but assumptions relating to the propensity to display proscribed behaviour have been so frequently racialised that this symbol of exclusion has also been reduced to the issue of skin colour. Race and the Undeserving Poor demonstrates how practices of British working-class respectability have historically been inscribed with underlying images of whiteness.

Sun 08 Jul 2018, 15:56 | Tags: book chapter, Agenda, Columbia University Press