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Faith in history: memory, multiculturalism and the legacies of Empire in post war England

Myers, Kevin (2011) Faith in history: memory, multiculturalism and the legacies of Empire in post war England. History of Education, 40 (6). pp. 779-793. ISSN 0046-760X

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URL of Published Version: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0046760X.2011.620014

Identification Number/DOI: 10.1080/0046760X.2011.620014

This article employs a broad concept of memory in order to examine the reconstruction of the past in various migrant religious and educational settings in the period after 1970. In educational projects designed to promote good community relations, and in attempts to develop non-dogmatic forms of religious belief, British history became the subject of extensive discussion and debate. A small space opened up in which the legacies of British imperial history, so often a matter of visceral feeling, could be publicised, explored and taken seriously. Using case studies from London and Birmingham the article argues that religious groups played a small but important role in enabling new, more inclusive and more critical, historical narratives to enter metropolitan British society.

Type of Work:Article
Date:November 2011 (Publication)
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
Department:Education and Social Justice

Zadie Smith, White Teeth (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2001 edn.): 410. For an incisive reading of the novel, stressing the ‘rampant’ role of history see Laura Moss, ‘The Politics of Everyday Hybridity: Zadie Smith’s White Teeth’, Wasafiri, 39 (2003): 11-17.

Stephen Howe, ‘C.L.R. James: visions of history, visions of Britain’ in Bill Schwarz (ed) West Indian Intellectuals in Britain (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2003): 169-170.

Vikki Bell, ‘Historical Memory, Global Movements and Violence: Paul Gilroy and Arjun Appadurai in Conversation’, Theory, Culture and Society, 16, 2 (1999): 26.

Peter Seixas, ‘Introduction’ in Peter Seixas (ed) Theorizing Historical Consciousness (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004): 9. On Hegel, and the important distinction between history and historicality that is important to all postcolonial history see Ranajit Guha, History at the Limit of World History (New York: Colombia University Press, 2002).

For a contemporary and biographical version of this argument see Ed Husain, The Islamist (Penguin, 2007).

For a summary critique see K. C., Barton and L. S. Levstik, ‘History’ in James Arthur, Chris Hahn and Ian Davies (Eds.), Handbook of education for citizenship and democracy (London: Sage, 2008), pp. 355-366.

Good starting points for the considerable literature on memory and heritage include Brian Graham and Peter Howard (eds), The Ashgate Research Companion to Heritage and Identity (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008) and Susannah Radstone, and Katharine Hodgkin (eds), Regimes of Memory (London: Routledge, 2003).

Jorn Rusen, History: Narration, Interpretation, Orientation (Oxford: Berghahn, 2005): 14, 32.

Raphael Samuel, Theatres of Memory Volume I: Past and Present in Contemporary Society (Verso, 1994): 3-48. Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, Making Histories: Studies in history-writing and politics (Hutchinson, 1982)

Mike Phillips and Trevor Phillips, Windrush: The irresistible rise of multi-racial Britain (London: HarperCollins, 1998)

Roswith Gerloff, ‘The African Diaspora in the Caribbean and Europe from pre-emancipation to the present day’ in Hugh McLeod (ed) The Cambridge History of Christianity Volume 9: World Christianities c.1914-c.2000 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006): 219-235 (p.228)

Robert Beckford, Jesus Dub: Theology, Music and Social Change (Abingdon: Routledge, 2006): 36

M. Turner, Slaves and Missionaries: The Disintegration of Jamaican Slave Society 1787-1834 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1982).

Stephen Howe, Afrocentrism: Mythical Pasts and Imagined Homes (London: Verso, 1998): 63-64.

Alistair Kee, The Rise and Demise of Black Theology (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006).

Colin Grant, Negro with a Hat: The Rise and Fall of Marcus Garvey and His Dream of Mother Africa (London: Jonathan Cape, 2008); Robert A. Hill and Barbara Blair, Marcus Garvey: Life and Lessons (Berkeley, University of California Press, 1987).

Colin Kidd, The Forging of Races: Race and Scripture in the Protestant Atlantic World, 1600-2000 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006): 256-257.

London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) ACC 1888/242/20, New Beacon Book Catalogues, undated (1969?) and June 1970.

Brian W. Alleyne, Radicals Against Race. Black Activism and Cultural Politics (Oxford: Berg: 2002).

Gerald Parsons, ‘Filling a Void? Afro-Caribbean identity and religion’ in Gerald Parsons (ed) The Growth of Religious Diversity in Britain from 1945 Volume 1: Traditions (London: Routledge, 1993): 243.

Roswith Gerloff, A Plea for Black British Theologies: The Black church movement in Britain in its transatlantic cultural and theological interaction (New York/Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1992); Parsons, ‘Filling a Void?.

Clifford Hill, Black Churches. West Indian and African sects in Britain (London: Community and Race Relations Unit of the British Council of Churches, 1971): 13-20.

Hill, Black Churches, 13-20. Beckford, Jesus Dub, 40.

Malcolm J.C. Calley, God’s People. West Indian Pentecostal Sects in England (London: Oxford University Press, 1965): 123.

The Times, 17 October 1960.

Paula Pemberton, Eric Pemberton and J.R. Maxwell-Hughes (eds), Pilgrims Progress: a history of the Wesleyan Holiness Church, 1958-1983 (Handsworth: Wesleyan Holiness Church District Office, 1983).

Wendy Webster, Englishness and Empire 1939-1965 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005); Kathleen Paul, ‘Communities of Britishness: migration in the last gasp of Empire’ in Stuart Ward (ed), British culture and the end of empire (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001).

Generally, see Brian W. Alleyne, Radicals Against Race. On the under researched Black Panthers see A. Angelo, ‘The Black Panthers in London, 1967-72: A diasporic struggle navigates the Black Atlantic’, Radical History Review, 103, 2009: 17-35. For the Black supplementary schools see Jessica Gerrard, Emancipation, Education and the Working Class: Genealogies of Resistance in Socialist Sunday Schools and Black Saturday Schools (University of Cambridge PhD thesis, 2011). On Black Studies see Committee for Black Studies, The Case and the Course: A Treatise on Black Studies (n.p.: COBS, 1973).

Callum Brown, Religion and Society in Twentieth Century Britain (Harlow: Longman, 2006): 207. An official account, giving details of formation and activities, can be found in Harold E. Fey, A History of the Ecumenical Movement Volume II: The Ecumenical Advance. 1948-68 (London: S.P.C.K., 1970).

Kenneth Slack, Uppsala Report (n.p., SCM Press, 1968); C.E. Welch, Mobilizing Morality: The World Council of Churches and its Program to Combat Racism, 1969-1994, Human Rights Quarterly, 23, 4 (2001): 863-910.

Michael Walsh, ‘The religious ferment of the sixties’ in Hugh McLeod (ed), The Cambridge History of Christianity Volume 9: World Christianities c.1914-c.2000 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008): 304-322; Adam Lent, British Social Movements since 1945: Sex, Colour, Peace and Power (Palgrave, 2001).

The educational significance of the speech is confirmed by its publication in the journal Religious Education. See James Baldwin, ‘White Racism or World Community?’, Religious Education, 64, 5 (1969); 342. Slack, Uppsala Report, 31-33.

LMA, ACC 1888/242/20: World Council of Churches: Programme to Combat Racism (WCC, n.d., 1970?).

LMA, ACC 1888/242/20: World Council of Churches: Programme to Combat Racism, p.2. On the formation and activities of the The West Indian Standing Conference see Kalbir Shukra, The Changing Face of Black Politics in Britain (London: Pluto Press, 1998) chapter 2.

The Times, 13-20 September 1970.

Of course, this was not new as the incisive and insightful article of Dorothy Howell-Thomas entitled ‘Immigration’ and published in Focus, the newsletter of the Clapham Parish Church in mid-December 1961. It warned that no nation can escape its own history, pleaded with parishioners to think about the ‘roots of our prejudice’ and invoked the actions of the Clapham sect in freeing slaves. ‘As members of the Commonwealth we must redeem the bad parts of our history’. LMA ACC 1888/117.

Derek Humphrey and Gus John, Because They’re Black (1971)

British Council of Churches’ Working Party on Britain as a Multi-Racial Society, The New Black Presence in Britain: A Christian Scrutiny (British Council of Churches, 1976): 12.

British Council of Churches’ Working Party on Britain as a Multi-Racial Society, The New Black Presence in Britain, 12.

LMA/4249/A/04/011. Tony Holden, Zebra Project: A Bow Street Mission Project. The First Ten Years (Woodgate Press, 1985). Paul Charman, Reflections. Black and White Christians in the City (London: Zebra Project, 1979).

A. Hastings, A History of English Christianity 1920-1990 (London: Collins, 1985).

Tony Holden, People, Churches and Multi-Racial Projects: An account of English Methodism’s response to plural Britain (London: Methodist Church Division of Social Responsibility, 1984)

Judith H. Katz, White Awareness Handbook for Anti-Racism Training (University of Oklahoma Press, 1978): 14, 23.

Ambalavaner Sivanandan, ‘RAT and the Degradation of Black Struggle’ Race and Class, 36, 4 (1985)

Raphael Samuel, ‘A Case for National History’, International Journal of Historical Teaching, Learning and Research 3, 1 (2003): 89.

Len Garrison, Black Youth, Rastafarianism and the Identity Crisis in Britain (London: ACER, 1979): 39.

D. Bishton and B. Homer, Talking Blues: The Black Community Speaks About its Relationship with the Police (AFFOR, 1978)

See, for example, Ivor Morrish, The Background of Immigrant Children (London: Unwin, 1971) and the very important work by David Milner, Children and Race (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1975), especially chapters 4, 5 and 6.

Paul Gilroy, Small Acts: Thoughts on the Politics of Black Culture (London: Serpent’s Tail, 1993);

Sebastian Clarke, Jah Music (London: Heinemann, 1980); Joseph Owens, Dread: The Rastafarians of Jamaica (London: Heinemann, 1982)

Frank Jan van Dijk, ‘Chanting Down Babylon Outernational: The Rise of Rastafari in Europe, the Caribbean, and the Pacific’ in Nathaniel Samuel Murrell, William David Spencer and Adrian Anthony McFarlane (eds), Chanting Down Babylon: The Rastafari Reader (Philadelphia: Temple University, 1998): 178-184.

Walter Rodney, The Groundings with My Brothers (London: Bogle L’Ouverture, 1969). Groundings refers to a communal and informal educational process comprised of a distinctive style of reasoning and exposition.

Jan van Dijk, ‘Chanting Down Babylon Outernational’, 182.

Birmingham Heritage and Archive Services, All Faiths for One Race archive, Box 2: ‘Rastafarianism is an excuse, not a religion. Discuss’ (n.p., n.d., 1978?)

B. Schwarz (ed), West Indian Intellectuals in Britain (MUP, 2003): 256.

Mark Salber Phillips, ‘History, Memory and Historical Distance’ in Peter Seixas (ed) Theorizing Historical Consciousness, 95-97.
Ian Grosvenor, and Kevin Myers, 'Engaging with history after Macpherson', Curriculum Journal,
12, 3 (2001): 275 — 289; June Bam Hutchinson, ‘Britishness in the National Conversation: The Life in the UK Test, Citizenship Lessons and the History Curriculum’,
www.york.ac.uk/ipup/projects/britishness/discussion/curricula.hmtl (last accessed 6 July 2011)

Barbara Taylor, Peter Mandler and Ed Webb, ‘History, Nation and the Schools’ at www.historyworkshop.org.uk (last accessed 6 July 2011)

Additional Information:

This is an electronic preprint of an article whose final and definitive form has been published in History of Education © 2011 Copyright Taylor & Francis; History of Education: Journal of the History of Education Society is available online at:
Myers, K. ‘Faith in history: memory, multiculturalism and the legacies of Empire in postwar England,' History
of Education, 40, 6 (2011): 779-793. DOI: 10.1080/0046760X.2011.620014

Keywords:ethnicity, religion, identity, history, education, social justice, education and social justice
Subjects:L Education (General)
LA History of education
Institution:University of Birmingham
Copyright Holders:Taylor & Francis, History of Education Society
ID Code:1023
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