Qualia's Qualms

Liminal confutations from a historian of race, science and empire


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Teaching Black and South Asian British History

I’m currently on leave and due to teach again from September 2018. When asked what I wanted to teach, I decided to refresh my course on genocide studies and offer a new course on Black and South Asian British history. I’ve taught these histories before, but I’ve never put together a dedicated survey.

My thoughts are now often preoccupied with thinking about how best to approach race and British history in this course. I still need a title and a final list of topics for my weekly seminars. I may call it ‘“There Is Black in the Union Jack”: An Introduction to Black and South Asian British History’. The title is both a play on Paul Gilroy’s classic book There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack (1987) and refers to a documentary of the same name and series of events recently held by the Black Southwest Network, promoted through #ThereISBlackInTheUnionJack.

I’m genuinely excited about catching up on lots of wonderful work whilst contributing to the broader decolonization of British history that has become so prominent with campaigns such as ‘Why is my curriculum white?’ and Rhodes Must Fall. My module will span at least four centuries of settlement and migration by peoples of African and South Asian descent in Britain.

The course is deeply personal to me, both because of my identity and commitment to antiracism. At the moment, I’m writing a book about the history of extinction but, in the long run, I want return to race and British history in my writing and historical research. I hope this course will help me keep in touch with this field and generate ideas for future projects.

Given my interests, I turned to Twitter to ask my colleagues if they had recently published, or had work forthcoming, of relevance to this course. I was overwhelmed with the response. My tweet received tens of thousands of impressions and many people shared details of their own work or those of colleagues.

Below is a list of everything that I suggested to others, everything mentioned in responses to my tweet and a couple of pieces I only encountered through following up on tweets and new followers. As some work is forthcoming, not everything will be available immediately or have full publication details.

I will not teach the entire list, but I’ve included every suggestion as a thank you to everyone who responded. This list is by no means a comprehensive guide to the wonderful range of work on this subject. However, I hope it will prove a useful resource for colleagues. Happy reading!

Reading List

Amanda Bidnall, The West Indian Generation: Remaking British Culture in London, 1945–1965 (Liverpool University Press, 2017).

Bekeh Utietiang Ukelina, The Second Colonial Occupation: Development Planning and the Legacies of British Colonial Rule in Nigeria (Lexington Books, 2017).

Camilla Schofield, Enoch Powell and the Making of Postcolonial Britain (Cambridge University Press, 2015).

David Holland, ‘The Social Networks of South Asian Migrants in the Sheffield Area during the Early Twentieth Century’, Past & Present 236 (2017): 243–279.

David Olusoga, Black and British: A Forgotten History (Macmillan, 2016).

Edward Anderson, ‘‘‘Neo-Hindutva”: The Asia House M.F. Husain Campaign and the Mainstreaming of Hindu Nationalist Rhetoric in Britain’, Contemporary South Asia, BASAS Conference Special Issue, 23 (2015): 45–66.

Edward Anderson and Patrick Clibbens, ‘‘‘Smugglers of truth’’: The Indian Diaspora, Hindu Nationalism, and the Emergency  (1975-77)’, Modern Asian Studies, forthcoming 2018.

Evan Smith, British Communism and the Politics of Race (Brill, 2017).

Gavin Schaffer, The Vision of a Nation: Making Multiculturalism on British Television, 1960–80 (Palgrave, 2014).

Gemma Romain, Race, Sexuality and Identity in Britain and Jamaica: The Biography of Patrick Nelson, 1916–1963 (Bloomsbury, 2017).

Hannah JM Ishmael and Rob Waters, ‘Archive review: The Black Cultural Archives, Brixton’, Twentieth Century British History (2017).

Ian Cobain, The History Thieves: Secrets, Lies and the Shaping of a Modern Nation (Portobello Books, 2017).

Jason Toynbee and Catherine Tackley, Black British Jazz: Routes, Ownership and Performance (Routledge, 2014).

Jerri Daboo, Staging British South Asian Culture: Bollywood and Bhangra in British Theatre (Routledge, 2018).

Karamant Iqbal, A Biography of the Word ‘Paki’: Racist Incident in the Workplace (Kindle, [n.d.]).

Karen Sands-O’Connor, Children’s Publishing and Black Britain, 1965–2015 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017).

Kennetta Hammond Perry, London is the Place for Me: Black Britons, Citizenship and the Politics of Race (Oxford University Press, 2016).

Lucy Bland, ‘Interracial Relationships and the “Brown Baby Question”: Black GIs, White British Women, and Their Mixed-Race Offspring in World War II’, Journal of the History of Sexuality 26 (2017): 424–453.

Matthew Francis, ‘Mrs Thatcher’s Peacock Blue Sari: Ethnic Minorities, Electoral Politics and The Conservative Party, C. 1974–86’, Contemporary British History 31 (2017): 274–293.

Miranda Kauffmann, Black Tudors (Oneworld, 2017).

Ole Birk Laursen, ‘The Indian Nationalist Press in London, 1865-1914’, in Constance Bantman and Ana Cláudia Surian da Silva, eds, The Foreign Political Press in Nineteenth-Century London (Bloomsbury, 2017).

Richard Duckett, The Special Operations Executive (SOE) in Burma: Jungle Warfare and Intelligence Gathering in WW2 (IB Tauris, 2017).

Rob Waters, ‘Student Politics, Teaching Politics, Black Politics: An Interview With Ansel Wong’, Race and Class 58 (2016): 17-33.

Rob Waters, ‘Thinking Black: Peter Fryer’s Staying Power snd The Politics of Writing Black British History in the 1980s’, History Workshop Journal 82 (2016): 104-120.

Roberta Bivins, ‘Picturing Race in the British National Health Service, 1948-1988’, Twentieth Century British History, 28 (2017): 83–109.

Rochelle Almeia, Britain’s Anglo Indians: The Invisibility of Assimilation (Lexington Books, 2017).

Shirin Hirsch, In the Shadow of Powell: Race, Locality and Resistance (Manchester University Press, forthcoming 2018).

Simon Peplow, ‘The ‘Linchpin For Success’? The Problematic Establishment of the 1965 Race Relations Act and its Conciliation Board’, Contemporary British History 31 (2017): 430-451.

Simon Peplow, ‘A Tactical Manoeuvre to Apply Pressure’: Race and the Role of Public Inquiries in the 1980 Bristol ‘Riot‘, Twentieth Century British History, 2017.

Simon Peplow, Race and Riots in Thatcher’s Britain (Manchester University Press, forthcoming 2018).

Suchita Choudhury, ‘“It Was an Imitashon to be Sure”: The Imitation Indian Shawl in Design Reform and Imaginative Fiction’, Textile History 46 (2015): 189–212.

Suchita Choudhury, ‘Fashion and the “Indian Mutiny”: The “Red Paisley Shawl” in Wilkie Collins’s Armadale’, Victorian Literature and Culture 44 (2016): 817–832.

Sumita Mukherjee, Indian Suffragettes: Female Identities and Transnational Networks (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2018).

Sumita Mukherjee, ‘The All-Asian Women’s Conference 1931: Indian women and their leadership of a pan-Asian feminist organisation’, Women’s History Review 26 (2017): 363-381.

Sumita Mukherjee, ‘The Reception Given to Sadhu Sundar Singh, the Itinerant Indian Christian “Mystic”, in Interwar Britain’, Immigrants & Minorities 35 (2017): 21-39.