Saturday 15 April 2023
11.00 - 13.00
SEB salen (Z)
Kieran Connell :
St Clair Drake and the Trans-Atlantic Ecologies of Race Relations
In summer 1947, the African American anthropologist St. Clair Drake arrived in Tiger Bay, Cardiff – one of Britain’s oldest ethnically-diverse communities – to begin work on a doctoral thesis entitled ‘Race Relations in the British Isles’. Drake’s academic reputation had already been established by the publication of Black Metropolis ... (Show more)
In summer 1947, the African American anthropologist St. Clair Drake arrived in Tiger Bay, Cardiff – one of Britain’s oldest ethnically-diverse communities – to begin work on a doctoral thesis entitled ‘Race Relations in the British Isles’. Drake’s academic reputation had already been established by the publication of Black Metropolis (1945), a seminal study of Chicago’s ‘black belt’ that Drake co-authored with the newspaper columnist Horace Clayton. What attracted him to Tiger Bay for his next project was a scandal that erupted on both sides of the Atlantic around Britain’s growing population of ‘brown babies’. These children were the product of sexual encounters that sometimes took place between local white women and some of the 300,000 African-American GIs who were at different points stationed across the UK during the latter part of the Second World War. Using the extensive field notes Drake kept during his stint in Cardiff, this paper seeks to reconstruct the nature and feel of a neighbourhood where, by the 1940s, half of all residents were from ethnic minority backgrounds. To begin with, the racial mixing that took place in the Bay served as a marked contrast to the rigidity of the ‘colour line’ Drake had left behind in Chicago. However, the longer Drake spent in Wales the more his field notes began to testify to the ubiquitous nature of racism and ideas about race in late-colonial Britain – both on the part of white Britons, but also the many different ethnic minority residents of the Bay. Drake’s field notes, I argue, demonstrate just how integral race was to the social fabric of late-imperial Britain (Show less)
Jack Crangle :
Oral History and the Black Irish Experience: Race, Culture and Nationhood in the Republic of Ireland
Twenty-first century Ireland is more ethnically diverse than ever before. In 2016, 11% of Ireland’s population was born outside of the country. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement illuminated systemic issues surrounding race, identity and belonging, propelling these into public consciousness across the western world. The fatal shooting by the ... (Show more)
Twenty-first century Ireland is more ethnically diverse than ever before. In 2016, 11% of Ireland’s population was born outside of the country. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement illuminated systemic issues surrounding race, identity and belonging, propelling these into public consciousness across the western world. The fatal shooting by the Irish Police (Gardaí) of George Nkencho in Dublin in December 2020 emphasised that Ireland has its own problems regarding racial profiling and discrimination.
The upsurge of twenty-first century Irish immigration has prompted a wealth of social science literature on race in modern Ireland. However, Irish historians have so far failed to contribute to this debate. Ethnic diversity in Ireland is not new. People of colour have resided in Ireland since at least the eighteenth century. In 1984, around 20,000 Black and Asian immigrants lived in the Republic of Ireland, many of whom had Irish-born children. Yet, Irish history is usually still written in terms of monochrome whiteness. Understanding the history of Ireland’s Black community is vital to comprehend the diverse nation we see today.
This paper will present emerging findings from a new oral history project (beginning September 2022) entitled ‘Black Ireland: race, culture and nationhood in the Irish Republic, 1948-95’. The paper has two major components. Firstly, it will begin by using archival material to establish public discourses surrounding race in twentieth-century Ireland, assessing how these intersected with themes such as religion and national identity. Ireland’s self-identification as a historically oppressed nation has propagated a naïve assumption of empathy with Black victims of racism. The paper will interrogate that assumption, asking the form, extent and impact of anti-Black racism in Ireland. The second half will focus solely on the project’s oral history component. It will assess the potential challenges and opportunities of conducting oral history research with a marginalised community in a country that was, during the twentieth-century, dominated by white Christianity. It will present preliminary findings from the first batch of oral history interviews, exploring how ethnic difference served as a marker of otherness and shaped conceptions of Black Irish identity.
The ultimate aim of this project, which runs until 2024, is to pioneer a new sub-field of Irish race and immigration history, sparking radical new debates that will diversify Ireland’s social historiography. This paper will outline the project’s nascent findings and explore potential avenues of future research. (Show less)
Oran Kennedy :
Of Riots and Rescues: an Analysis of Extra-Legal Resistance and the Defense of African American Slave Refugees in the Late Antebellum North
Between 1800 and 1860, the northern US emerged as a battleground between slavery and freedom in North America. During this time, tens of thousands of African American slave refugees fled from the US South with the hope of securing their permanent freedom in the North. Yet freedom seekers were constantly ... (Show more)
Between 1800 and 1860, the northern US emerged as a battleground between slavery and freedom in North America. During this time, tens of thousands of African American slave refugees fled from the US South with the hope of securing their permanent freedom in the North. Yet freedom seekers were constantly threatened by the prospect of recapture and re-enslavement. Under US federal law (namely the Fugitive Slave Acts of 1793 and 1850), southern enslavers and bounty hunters were legally permitted to enter the northern states, seize self-emancipated African Americans, and return them to slavery in the US South. Although northern state legislatures passed measures to restrict the extraterritorial influence of southern enslavers, the Fugitive Slave Acts ensured that they would remain a prominent danger to the liberty and security of African Americans in the antebellum North.
In response, activists across the northern states employed different forms of extra-legal resistance to defend themselves from re-enslavement. In the antebellum era, African Americans and white abolitionists in the North assisted slave refugees through various interracial escape networks (commonly known as the Underground Railroad). Additionally, Black and white activists mobilized to protect self-emancipated formerly enslaved people in the northern states. Aside from legal resistance, African Americans and white abolitionists engaged in riots, rescues, and other forms of violence against southern enslavers, bounty hunters, local law enforcement, and federal marshals. In some instances, activists and organizations (such as vigilance committees) mobilized large protests. Other episodes, however, were notably smaller in scale. Nonetheless, the impact of extra-legal resistance was unmistakable. By 1860, parts of the North had effectively become sanctuary spaces for African American freedom seekers. Violent conflicts over the recaption of slave refugees undoubtedly enflamed sectional tensions that led to the outbreak of the US Civil War.
By analyzing a selection of relevant case studies, this paper will examine how extra-legal resistance became critical to the defense of slave refugees in the antebellum North. It will demonstrate how African Americans and white abolitionists utilized rescues, riots, and other forms of violence to fight back against the threat posed by southern enslavers, bounty hunters, local law enforcement and federal marshals. Special attention will be devoted to the strategies and tactics of extra-legal resistance employed by abolitionists across the North, as well as the outcomes and ramifications of these episodes (on local, regional, and national levels). Building upon recent scholarly works, this paper will highlight how extra-legal resistance to the recapture of slave refugees also varied greatly over time and space. In this regard, it will illustrate how the freedom and security of African Americans throughout the North was contingent on several factors, including geographical distance from the US South and the presence of Black communities and abolitionist networks. (Show less)
Christopher Roy Zembe :
The Hallmarks of Slave Trade and Imperial Legacies: Black African Immigration in Britain
The paper emerges from broader Black British migration historiography by answering the question: “Why was post-war Black British immigration in the immediate years following the end of World War Two dominated by immigrants from the West Indies with Africans at the periphery? In answering the question, the paper draws its ... (Show more)
The paper emerges from broader Black British migration historiography by answering the question: “Why was post-war Black British immigration in the immediate years following the end of World War Two dominated by immigrants from the West Indies with Africans at the periphery? In answering the question, the paper draws its arguments from racial prejudices and stereotypes that evolved during the slaving era and the colonisation of Africa which allowed the creation of a comparative framework to hierarchically classify Africans and West Indians. As a result, Africans found themselves being relegated below West Indians on the social hierarchy as they had not been socialised long enough in British culture and social norms. The paper will therefore establish how the historically constructed legacy of difference between Blacks of the British Empire, inadvertently placed Africans at a disadvantage compared to West Indians in Britain’s post-war labour recruitment.
In the immediate years following the end of World War Two, Britain’s population demography started to undergo significant transformation with the arrival of Black migrants from the West Indies who were the overwhelmingly majority over those from the African continent. Post-war economic expansion that needed a guaranteed supply of mainly unskilled or semi-skilled workforce had provided the opportunity for Blacks from either the British colonies in Africa or the West Indies to forge a visible and settled presence in Britain. The settlement of a post-war Black diasporic community in which Caribbean immigrants eclipsed those from Africa was one of the inescapable consequences of the longevity of Africa’s interactions with the British economic and social systems linked to Transatlantic Slave Trade, and the 19th century colonisation of the continent.
In recognition of disproportionate Black migration trends into Britain, the paper’s objective is to expose a post-war British immigration system that was informed by a complex racial profiling of Black colonial subjects that allowed the development of migration processes which catapulted the West Indies over Africa as preferred source to alleviate Britain’s post-war labour shortages.
To examine why Afro-Caribbean immigrants and not Africans emerged to be the dominant Black community in alleviating labour shortages in a rapidly expanding post-war British economy, the paper examines four perspectives characterised as: Migration trends in British Colonies of Southern Africa; Anti-Black immigration Rhetoric and the Commonwealth; The Hierarchical Profiling of Blacks; and Mother Country Symbolism.
By examining a multi-layered nature of historic prejudices and stereotypes that had been underpinned and informed within the realms of socialisation in British values, this paper was able to contextualise hierarchical profiling of Blacks. Unlike Africans, West Indians’ three centuries of socialisation had facilitated Anglicisation that inadvertently disenfranchised the African continent by labelling its inhabitants as “people of primitive culture”, while in comparative contrast West Indians being identified as “Dependencies with a European culture”. West Indians’ notable domination over Africans in alleviating post-war Britain’s labour shortages was therefore not a consequence of knee-jerk reaction but instead a demonstration of the extent the role of historical factors played in constructing an affection and loyalty to Britain. (Show less)