British Immigration Policy since 1939: The Making of Multi-Racial Britain

British Immigration Policy since 1939: The Making of Multi-Racial Britain

British Immigration Policy since 1939: The Making of Multi-Racial Britain

British Immigration Policy since 1939: The Making of Multi-Racial Britain

Synopsis

In the space of less than half a century, Britain has shifted from being a virtually all-white society to a multi-racial society with important Asian and black communities. British Immigration Policy Since 1939 traces this transition, from the Second World War, through the restrictive legislation on immigration in the 1960s, to the present day.Based on a detailed examination of recently released archival material, Ian Spencer's book outlines the chronology and explores the nature of Asian and black immigration since 1939 and evaluates the role of government in regulating the movement. Spencer contends that the settlement of Asian and black people was met by a barrage of restrictive measures. He argues that Britain became a multi-racial society despite, rather than because of, the policies of both Labour and Conservative governments.

Excerpt

It hardly needs to be said that the making of multi-racial Britain is a very important subject. It is concerned with nothing less than a rapid and quite unprecedented demographic and cultural transformation of British society. in the space of half a century, between 1940 and 1990, communities of Indian sub-continental, Caribbean and African origin have grown from a small fraction of 1 per cent of the total population of Britain to almost 6 per cent. Within another generation it is likely that Asian and black Britain will comprise about one-tenth of the whole population. the consequences of the migration have been—and will continue to be—profound, eventually transforming the way Britain sees itself and is seen by others. My hope is that British Immigration Policy since 1939 will contribute to the growth in understanding of how and why this came about.

The transformation of Britain from an all white to a multi-racial society, in the course of the second half of the twentieth century, has attracted a great deal of media and academic attention. in academe the writing on the subject and most of the exchanges have been dominated by sociologists, anthropologists and political scientists, perhaps necessarily because most historians disqualify themselves from the study of the very recent past. Not that social scientists have always eschewed the historical approachBallard, Deakin and Layton-Henry, to give a few examples, have had much of value to say about the history of Asian and black immigration. in so far as historians have interested themselves in immigration as an aspect of modern British history, they have tended—as exemplified by Colin Holmes’ excellent 1988 book John Bulls Island: Immigration and British Society, 1871-1971—to see Asian and black immigration as part of a larger pattern of movement, or to examine the long-term history of black immigration to (and settlement in) Britain as, for example, in Peter Fryer’s Staying Power: the History of Black People in Britain (1984). the journal Immigrants and Minorities has emerged in the last decade as the place in which historians interested in all aspects of the history of British

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