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Memories of Migration

Commemoration, Contestation, and Migrant Integration in the United Kingdom and Germany

Barbara Laubenthal and Kevin Myers

Abstract

Based on key concepts of memory studies, this article investigates how immigration is remembered in two different societies: the United Kingdom and Germany. Starting from the assumption that social remembering has the potential to encourage the integration of migrants, we analyze in several case studies how civil society organizations and government actors remember historical immigration processes and how the immigrant past is reflected in popular culture. Our analysis shows that both countries have several factors in common with regard to the role of immigration in collective memory. A common feature is the marginal status accorded to migration and, when it is remembered, the highly restricted role offered to immigrants. However, our studies also reveal that memory can become an important mode for the integration of migrants if it is used as a form of political activism and if organizations proactively use the past to make demands for the incorporation of immigrants.

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Must Labour Lose?

The 1959 election and the politics of the people

Charlotte Lydia Riley

Abstract

This article explores Mark Abrams, Richard Rose, and Rita Hinden's 1960 publication Must Labour Lose? in order to demonstrate that contemporary debates around British identity and political culture are nothing new. The concerns about political, party, and national identity in this book clearly prefigure 2016 debates about Britain, not least because a specific question—how to vote—became a conversation about a broader set of ideals. This article explores how Must Labour Lose? constructed an image of British politics in 1959. It interrogates its silences around racial identity and argues that we must read race into this book and others like it. And it concludes that research like this enables a much wider understanding of the British electorate than simply how they voted.

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Postimperial Melancholia and Brexit

Marc Matera

Abstract

The lead-up to and the aftermath of the 2016 referendum on the United Kingdom's membership in the European Union have been characterized by particular psychic reactions and affective states: shock, perplexity, anxiety, guilt, paranoia, anger, depression, delusion, and manic elation. The debate over Brexit has played out largely in an affective register. Scholars and journalists in search of explanations have reached for psychological concepts such as amnesia and have cited feelings, specifically nostalgia and anger, as major factors. Paul Gilroy's Postcolonial Melancholia provides a more useful analytical framework for constructing histories of Brexit beyond the usual narratives of reversal, unexpected rupture, or liberation, and for unearthing the psychic attachments and affective dynamics underlying such narratives. Gilroy's conception of postimperial melancholia allows us to see the links between Brexit, anti-immigrant racism, and the obsession with national identity, and the unacknowledged and ongoing legacies of empire and decolonization in contemporary Britain.

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Quartet in Autumn and the Meaning of Barbara Pym

Antoinette Burton

Abstract

Barbara Pym's fiction has been viewed as an anthropological approach to the social mores of postwar Britain. In this article, I use one of her last novels, Quartet in Autumn, to sharpen that reading to think through how Pym articulated an aesthetics of decline by trumpeting the dying world of the White English spinster. Quartet fictionalizes the agony of what Ramon Soto-Crespo calls “decapitalized Whiteness,” that is, where economic loss and a sense of racial disenfranchisement go hand in hand. The transatlantic desire it satisfied for a world that was lost yet redeemable through good old-fashioned English “women's” literature prefigures the nostalgia for a preglobal Britain that has underwritten much of Brexit's affective appeal.

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“To Tell It as We Know It”

Black Women's History and the Archive of Brexit Britain

Kennetta Hammond Perry

Abstract

This article takes Beverley Bryan, Stella Dadzie, and Suzanne Scafe's The Heart of the Race (1985) as an invitation to consider the conditions that routinely mark formulations of Brexit Britain as they operated in the lives of Black women in Britain during the early 1980s. It explores how the text engages Black women's lives as an index of how the welfare state was both structured and experienced in such a way that demarcated racialized internal borders of Britishness, citizenship, and belonging. It also argues for the importance of embedding Black women's narratives into histories of Brexit's unfolding.

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When Cosmopolitans Get Ahead

W. T. Eady's I.D.B. or The Adventures of Solomon Davis (1887)

Danielle Kinsey

Abstract

The anticosmopolitanism that Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May endorsed as a guiding ideology of Brexit has a long history in British discourse. This article links the anticosmopolitanism alive in Brexit to late-nineteenth-century antisemitism, racism, and antiglobalization by examining the content, context, and reception of W. T. Eady's I.D.B. or The Adventures of Solomon Davis (1887). As an effort to lampoon diamond magnate Barney Barnato's rise in society, the novel throws up warnings about how deserving English will be impoverished when Jewish immigrants and other so-called “cosmopolitans” take advantage of the mobilities enabled by British entanglements with the larger world. The novel shows how fears of globalization and European immigration comingled with a racialized sense of Englishness, all intimations of Brexit discourse.

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“White” Guadeloupeans of “Mixed” Ancestry

Complicating Analyses of Whiteness and White Supremacy

Ary Gordien

Abstract

This article explores the various ways in which Guadeloupeans of mixed African and European ancestry who are perceived as White self-identify in relation to their family and individual trajectories. This partial analysis is based on half-dozen semistructured interviews carried out in the course of researching nationalism, race, and ethnicity in Guadeloupe. Complicating rigid definitions of Whiteness and White supremacy, this article interprets the intricate meanings of Whiteness in the specific context of Guadeloupe, and its complex articulation with material and symbolic privilege.

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A White Race Blindness?

Abstract Universalism and the Unspeakable Making of Race

Sarah Mazouz

Abstract

Drawing on observations and on interviews conducted in a préfecture and in a municipalité of the Paris periphery, this article analyzes how republican universalism operates as a “particularizing” tool that enacts Whiteness. Starting from the paradoxical situation in which White state officials are reluctant to engage with the notion of racial discrimination when they are keen to ascribe racial categories to people of color, I argue that race blindness is in fact a form of White blindness to racialization. People of color who subscribe to the ideology of colorblindness tend to adopt a position whereby their loyalty toward the requirement of race blindness is supposed to protect them from suspicions raised by the racialized identity they are assigned to. But in practice, this stance internalizes the way they are viewed by Whites. The article concludes by discussing the link between White race blindness and the failure of republican policies against racial discrimination.

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The Whiteness of French Food

Law, Race, and Eating Culture in France

Mathilde Cohen

Abstract

Food is fundamental to French identity. So too is the denial of structural racism and racial identity. Both tenets are central to the nation's self-definition, making them all the more important to think about together. This article purports to identify and critique a form of “French food Whiteness” (blanchité alimentaire), that is, the use of food and eating practices to reify and reinforce Whiteness as the dominant racial identity. To do so, it develops four case studies of how law elevates a fiction of homogenous French/White food as superior and normative at the expense of alternative ways of eating and their eaters—the law of geographical indications, school lunches, citizenship, and cultural heritage.

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Book Reviews

Laura Levine Frader, Ian Merkel, Jessica Lynne Pearson, and Caroline Séquin

Lisa Greenwald, Daughters of 1968: Redefining French Feminism and the Women's Liberation Movement (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2018).

Eric T. Jennings, Escape from Vichy: The Refugee Exodus to the French Caribbean (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018).

Kathleen Keller, Colonial Suspects: Suspicion, Imperial Rule, and Colonial Society in Interwar French West Africa (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2018).