Narratives of radical lives
The roots of 1960s activism and the making of the British left
in Against the grain
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Respondents' narratives of anti-racist beliefs illuminate the complex relationship between selfhood, politics and culture in post-war Britain. This chapter considers the stories that activist men and women told about their entry into the New Left spaces that emerged around the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign (VSC) in the late 1960s. It focuses on their childhood and adolescent encounters with a post-war landscape that exuded confusing and often contradictory messages about the meanings of British modernity. The children of Jewish refugees struggled to live up to the task of belonging bestowed upon them from birth. The chapter explores the political, social and emotional roots of their radical journeys. It considers how young activists' desire for new ways of seeing and being on the left can be found rooted in their experiences in the family, local community, school and the expanding international arena of Cold War politics.

Against the grain

The British far left from 1956

Editors: Evan Smith and Matthew Worley

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