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CFP: After Empire? The Contested History of Decolonisation, Migration and Race in Modern Britain

Submission deadline: August 3, 2018

Conference date(s):
December 13, 2018 - December 14, 2018

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Conference Venue:

University of Leeds
Leeds, United Kingdom

Topic areas


This conference provokes and facilitates a discussion over race, migration, Empire and British identity fifty years after Enoch Powell’s infamous ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech. Writing in White Man’s World (2011), Bill Schwarz explains how the culture and politics of late twentieth century Britain was underwritten by ‘unappeased memories of the imperial past’ (32). The years following Schwarz’s study have seen a range of controversies over Britain’s contested imperial past. Yet the recent examples of the Windrush scandal, Oxford University’s ‘Ethics & Empire’ research project, the Blighty café vandalism and protest, and the apparent revival of imperial ambitions prompted by Brexit are part of a longer history. The mutations of Britain’s publicly unexamined imperial legacy within the UK have been many and varied. The interrelated rows over race and Britishness, such as the BBC schools video on ‘Roman Britain’ depicting a black Roman-Briton, are symptoms of this unchallenged history of the Empire. Why, given the fraught issues generated by this stifled debate, have there not been more informed, public discussions about race and Empire in the United Kingdom?

Featuring a keynote presentations from Gary Younge (The Guardian) and Professor Bill Schwarz (QMUL) author of White Man’s World, and co-author, with the late Stuart Hall, of Familiar Stranger (2017), this conference investigates the afterlives of Empire, bringing together PGRs, ECRs, academic and public researchers in the fields of History, English Literature, Sociology, Politics, Heritage Studies, and more to discuss the aftermath of imperialism within Britain. We welcome 20-minute conference papers or poster contributions on, but not limited to:

  • Empire and race in modern British politics – from Enoch Powell to Brexit
  • Race, class and education in contemporary Britain
  • Calls for transnational decolonisation; from Rhodes Must Fall to Black Lives Matter
  • Literary responses to Empire and its aftermath (including fiction, poetry, memoir, drama and more)
  • Diasporic cultures and communities
  • Britain and whiteness studies
  • Civil resistance and disobedience, including community activism
  • Cultural economies of Empire in the British heritage industry
  • Visual representations of Empire and its legacies

Please submit abstracts of no more than 300 words to Modest postgraduate travel bursaries are available and can be applied for by cover letter.

Closing date Friday 3rd August 2018.

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