Saffron East (UCL) - 2018-19 Students

Activism and Identity within postcolonial migrant communities in Britain

Sitting within the field of postwar British history, this project explores changes in the politicisation of British ethnic minority communities from 1960-1990 through analysis of two community organisations: the Indian Workers Association (IWA) and the Black People’s Alliance (BPA). Specifically, it seeks a clearer historical understanding of the political category ‘black’ and how this category came to include the political ideas and actions of a diverse range of minority ethnic groups (including African, Caribbean and South Asian). The project questions how, when and on what terms South Asian communities were able to relate to the term ‘black’, how (if at all) this altered their political engagement, and what role political activism itself had in structuring community identity. It will explore what was particular about this historical moment that enabled this form of ‘political blackness’ to emerge, and why it came to an end. My working hypothesis is that ‘black’ as a political category was dependent on ‘anticolonialism’ (a broad spectrum of political ideas seeking to end colonial rule and to fight racism); as such, political blackness in Britain collapsed by the 1980s with the end of most decolonisation struggles.

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