Dongkyung Shin
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‘He is not a “racist” but should not be appointed director of LSE’
The impact of colonial universities on the University of London
in British culture after empire
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This chapter examines the ways in which ‘racial issues’ migrated from Rhodesia to London through institutional connections between the London School of Economics, the University of London and the University of Rhodesia from the 1950s to 1970s. As Walter Adams was appointed as the new director of LSE from his post as principal of the University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland in 1967, LSE students were against his appointment to protect what they construed as the most multiracial university in Britain from having a director they regarded as holding reactionary racial views. The students made further demonstrations against Adams’s directorship until 1974. In doing so, their voices became stronger, reflected in the school’s governance and policymaking processes. The continued inflow of returning staff and international students from new Commonwealth countries shaped new communities and cultures at the University of London. These students’ radical activities in Britain helped to highlight and challenge racial issues within British universities and among students. Britain’s 1960s student counterculture was shaped by these colonial networks that brought the colonial empire’s race and decolonisation issues ‘home’. By introducing new postcolonial perspectives on the history of the University of London, this chapter argues the earlier activism of LSE students and student demonstrations at British universities in the late 1960s are a key example of Britain’s afterlives of empire and the predecessor of current movements to ‘decolonise the university’.

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