Why are so many West Indians who were born in the first half of the 20th century so enamoured with Britain, British culture and its monarchy, even in the early 21st century?
If we survey the historical profession at the moment, there are plenty of academic squabbles going on, but the great debates that once divided historians seem to be in short supply. Time was when contests over the standard of living during the industrial revolution or about post-modernism and its application to the study of history would drive scholars into a frenzy of position taking.
Gavin Schaffer’s ambitious and important new book explores how British television dealt with and shaped multiracialism between 1960 and 1980. He sees television’s relationship to multiracialism, not primarily as a mirror to society, but rather as a ‘generator of social meaning’ and a ‘clear “site of struggle”’ (p. 2).
Across the 17th century, more than 350,000 English people went to America. Yet many, if not most of those who went brought with them a keen sense of their bringing ‘Englishness’ with them, rather than transforming into ‘Americans’. Emigrants travelled to the New World for a variety of reasons.
Daniel Livesay’s first monograph comes at an opportune moment. With the recent release of digital projects such as the University of Glasgow’s Runaway Slaves in Britain database, historical attention has focused in on the lives of people of colour in early modern Britain.
‘This book’, writes Jeffrey A. Auerbach in his Introduction to Imperial Boredom, ‘is very much about how people felt’ [his italics]. As such, it takes its place in a growing body of scholarship that explores through individual lives the mind-set that under-pinned the empire project, both individually and on a collective level.
At the time of writing this review (early April 2020), Harry and Meghan had decamped to Los Angeles, Prince Charles was recovering from the coronavirus, and Queen Elizabeth had just delivered a rare television address to the British people urging resolve in the face of COVID-19.