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Windrush (1948) and Rivers of Blood (1968): Legacy and Assessment (Logis du Roy, Amiens, Université de Picardie Jules Verne, France: 24-25 May 2018)

Deadline: 15 Oct 2017

Confirmed Keynote Speaker: Trevor Phillips, OBE

The arrival of the Empire Windrush at Tilbury on 22 June 1948 has been described by Patrick Vernon as 'a powerful and iconic symbol of the rise of modern-day multicultural Britain.' In many ways, the 492 migrants who arrived that day have come to symbolize all post-war Commonwealth settlers in Britain and its transition to a multicultural society, in which race relations have become a major and permanent theme.

Influenced by imperialist propaganda, Commonwealth migrants often considered Britain as their 'mother country'. Yet, their integration was not as smooth as they expected or hoped. In their hitherto idealised Britain they were often considered 'aliens.' In practice, the decolonisation process and the consequent demise of Empire meant that, increasingly, post-war Britain could no longer uphold the ideal of a 'Greater Britain,' and migration from the expanding Commonwealth was no longer perceived as internal migration within a single entity, but as immigration from 'overseas.' Seen as a threat to the stability of British society, Commonwealth immigration led to polarisation and the migrants’ ethnic classification by virtue of which they were sometimes perceived as a sub-race, an unwanted group adversely affecting Britain’s traditions, its racial 'purity' and national identity. This rise of xenophobia was most visibly embodied in the resistance to immigration of the advocate of repatriation, Enoch Powell, and his infamous 1968 'Rivers of Blood' speech.

In parallel with decolonisation and growing international resistance to colonialism, notably in the United Nations’ 1960 'Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples,' Britain witnessed its own reaction to anti-immigration propaganda and the birth of forms of activism condemning anti-migrant attitudes, an activism which found legislative expression in the Race Relations Acts of 1965, 1968, and 1976 that officially addressed the issue of racial discrimination. Britain, in short, underwent a post-war migration 'crisis,' and the anniversaries of the arrival of the Windrush (1948) and Enoch Powell’s now infamous speech (1968) are an appropriate point at which to take stock of this important legacy, to assess the effects of those key moments and the fundamental changes which they undoubtedly brought about.

This two-day conference aims to examine the structural forces at the root of the migration 'crisis,' and the growing racial essentialism in Britain, and to reappraise the Commonwealth migrants’ heritage and contribution to shaping modern Britain

We invite proposals for papers dealing with the legacy of Windrush and/or 'Rivers of Blood.' Possible themes include, but are not limited to:

* 'Windrush Day'
* the racialisation of black immigration to Britain post-Windrush
* mental health issues among post-war migrants to Britain
* perceptions and representations of migrant sexuality
* gender and race in post-war migration flows
* race, citizenship, nation : race relations legislation, its origins and consequences
* musical legacies of Commonwealth migrants in Britain
* Windrush and Rivers of Blood on stage, on screen and in the arts
* Commonwealth migration and linguistic influences on British English
* migrants and education in post-war Britain
* Commonwealth migrants and the NHS
* influence of former colonial cultures on Britishness: the 'Creolisation' of Britain
* Cosmopolitanism in post-war Britain
* the Notting Hill Carnival and symbols of multiculturalism
* demographics / urban impacts and slums / ethnic neighbourhoods

Please send a 200-word abstract and a short academic biography to the organisers. A selection of papers will be published in an edited volume.

Contact details:
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Filed under: Call for Papers - Conferences

Last updated: 22 Aug 2017



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