Introduction: Marking Race in Twentieth Century British History

Marc Matera, Radhika Natarajan, Kennetta Hammond Perry, Camilla Schofield, Rob Waters*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

How might historians narrate Britain's past if we centre imperial racial formation and its contestations? The thirtieth anniversary of Paul Gilroy's There Ain't No Black in the Union Jack: The Cultural Politics of Race and Nation provided an opportunity for a new generation of scholars to consider the frameworks of race in British history. In 1987, Gilroy challenged Marxist approaches that treated race as secondary to or even a mechanistic expression of class inequality. He showed that the failure to account for race and empire positioned racialized subjects as perpetual outsiders. Taking up Gilroy's analysis as a point of departure, this thematic issue brings together analyses of the state, institutions, and individuals to propose new periodizations, geographies, and methodologies for understanding twentieth-century British history. In this introduction, Marc Matera, Radhika Natarajan, Kennetta Hammond Perry, Camilla Schofield, and Rob Waters describe the five-year conversation that led to this thematic issue, introduce their respective essays, and explain why race must be understood not as a descriptive category but as an analytical framework for understanding Britain's past.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-414
Number of pages8
JournalTwentieth Century British History
Volume34
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History

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