Abstract only
‘Go home’ as an invitation to stay

The conclusion considers the way in which immigration law and its violent enforcement is both authorised and reinforced by street racial terror. State and street racism is in part propelled by the idea that Britain is a place divorced from its colonial history. Immigration law casts the British Empire into shadow, obscuring its role in making Britain and driving people to move in its direction. I offer a counter-pedagogy to that of law, one that rejects immigration law’s lesson of differentiation in human worth and instead understands ‘host states’ as colonial spaces and irregularised movement as anti-colonial resistance. This reframing troubles white supremacist structures, challenges mythological narratives about British colonial history, rejects a politics of recognition and paves the way for a more empowering and radical politics of racial justice and migrant solidarity.

in (B)ordering Britain
Abstract only
Myth, memory and minority history

This chapter concludes the study by situating the Irish experience, and the approach employed to analyse it, within the context of current debates on British national identity and the critical potential of minority history. It argues that while the recovery of marginalised histories remains important in challenging sanitised myths of British fairness and beneficence, a vital contribution of minority history concerns its capacity to illuminate the workings of ‘identity’ as an intrinsically historical and dynamic process. In this, it is argued, Popular Memory Theory offers a useful dialogic framework, enabling the processes of migrant memory to be mobilised as a resource for analysing the production, reformation and diversification of migrant subjectivities under changing historical conditions.

in Life history and the Irish migrant experience in post-war England
Abstract only

The conclusion outlines how the different chapters in the volume have contributed to elucidating the concept of bioprecarity. This involves analysing the complex entanglements created by the relationship between the body, life, the production, maintenance and application of categories and intimate labour. These entanglements exist in a context of uneven distribution of power, which means that particular social groups and individuals are rendered more bioprecarious than others through their positioning as biosubjects. The volume shows that bioprecarity extends beyond contemporary, disenfranchised groups. It was also a key dimension of eugenicist histories, for example. At the same time, however, we also indicate that bioprecarity is sometimes co-produced by those who install it and those who seek to benefit from bodily interventions and intimate labour. This means that questions of biocitizenship need to be addressed more widely since biotechnologization will remain a fact of contemporary life.

in Bodily interventions and intimate labour
Abstract only
The Veda as an alternative to the Bible

The Western quest for origins received an initial formulation in the recognition of a philological relationship between Sanskrit, Latin, Greek and other languages of Europe. Already in the Enlightenment, there was much speculation regarding India, its culture, language and peoples. Many of the uninformed assessments of this time would resurface in subsequent Orientalist scholarship, Romantic mythography, nineteenth-century linguistic science, and race theory. Excited by the linguistic affinity between Sanskrit and other languages, Orientalist scholars fostered the comparative science of religion and mythology that developed a vision of an Aryan race as the originator of Indian and European culture. The belief in Indo-European origins further spurred European interest in Vedic Aryan sources. The chapter focuses on the work of Voltaire, Herder, German Romantic mythographers and Max Müller, who established a vision of the Aryan through their reading the Veda and posited Sanskrit scripture as an alternative to the Bible. Speculation regarding the Aryan provided a means whereby Indian history could be used to create a fresh historical tradition that expressed specifically European political and ideological interests. What Europeans sought in India, the chapter argues, was not Indo-European religion but a reassessment of Judaeo-Christianity.

in Chosen peoples
The nineteenth-century roots of segregationist folk theology in the American South

Scholarship on the Christian defence of Jim Crow-era racial segregation has tended to downplay its similarities with antebellum support for slavery. The prevailing view is that religious apologies for segregation had little if anything in common with the robust pro-slavery arguments from Scripture developed in the nineteenth century. However, slavery apologists had compensated for the absence of biblical racism by interpreting one text (Genesis 9:20–7) in ways that would prove a boon to segregationists. Although the so-called curse of Ham would lose its appeal with the demise of slavery, proslavery interpreters’ habit of racialising Noah’s descendants made this section of Scripture of continued interest to racist Bible readers in the century after the Civil War. Understood as a narrative disclosure of God’s will for distinct ethnic groups in the postdiluvian dispensation, Genesis 9–11 became basis for a biblical defence of Jim Crow. Surveying examples from both elite and non-elite contexts makes it possible to identify the dominant forms and persistent themes of a ‘distinction and dispersal’ tradition of biblical interpretation that reveals surprising connections between the religious defences of slavery and segregation.

in Chosen peoples

In the highly politicised world of nineteenth-century Russian religious culture, translation of the Bible became a source of major conflict. Who had the right to translate the Bible? What base texts were authoritative? What was to be the language of the modern Russian Bible? This chapter focuses on the controversy dividing Russian prelates in the 1850s over the renewal of Russian biblical translation efforts following the thirty-year hiatus imposed by Emperor Nicholas I. The chapter explores four touchstone moments when the politics of empire and nation came to be sharply represented in conflicts over biblical translation: (1) the conflict in the early nineteenth century over the imperially sanctioned Russian Bible Society; (2) the internal debate of the 1850s in the Holy Synod over the reopening of modern Russian biblical translation; (3) the conflicts linking the Jewish question with biblical translation in the last half of the nineteenth century; and, briefly, (4) the contemporary issue of biblical translation in the context of the current international conflict over Ukraine. The chapter argues that these fault lines reflected deep divisions over how best to accommodate ethnic diversity and incipient secularisation within Russian religious culture from the nineteenth century to the present day.

in Chosen peoples
Europe’s colonial embrace

Chapter 5 explores Britain’s turn towards the European Economic Community, now the European Union, in the 1960s, which coincided with the introduction of immigration controls against racialised colony and Commonwealth citizens. In the face of the defeat of the British Empire, the British government began to look elsewhere for power and riches. Britain’s economic and political prospects were argued by some to lie in European cooperation. The transition from empire to European integration has allowed imperial nostalgia and amnesia to fester in Britain. Decades later, in the course of the 2016 referendum on Britain’s EU membership, the argument was made that leaving the EU would allow Britain to regain the global influence ostensibly diminished as a consequence of EU membership. Yet this was the very same rationale that drove Britain to apply to join the EU decades earlier.

in (B)ordering Britain
Negotiating religious selfhoods in post-1945 England

While recent commemorative histories mythologise fervent devotion to the faith as a distinctive attribute of the post-war migrant experience, Catholic observers at the time feared migrants were ‘falling away from the Church’. This chapter explores the changing place of religion in migrants’ lives in England and the complex agency of Catholic ideals in shaping religious selfhoods over the migration journey. Where contemporary observers feared the secularising effects of urban culture upon migrants, the chapter shows how continuity and change articulated simultaneously within the evolution of migrants’ religious identities. Regulatory religious ideals offered some migrants a model of virtuous and socially respectable settlement in which they could recognise aspects of their own fears, ambitions and aspirations, while other, often later migrants drew on a public critique of clerical power to narrate a story of renunciation and personal transformation. Irrespective, however, of whether individuals embraced or derogated their religious heritage, narratives of religious change always registered disavowal as an ambivalent process, involving the management of conflicting desires for autonomy from and conformity to deeply internalised religious prohibitions.

in Life history and the Irish migrant experience in post-war England

Chapter 3 provides a short summary of the history and development of Chinese Underworld cosmology, from early notions of the bipartite nature of the soul in the Shang dynasty (1600–1046 BC) to the influence of non-canonical morality tracts popularised during the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing dynasties (1636–1912), most notably, the ‘Jade Record’, which provided the blueprint upon which contemporary perceptions of the post-mortal journey are based. The summary includes the Underworld as envisaged by early schools of Taoism, including the Celestial Masters, Shangqing and Lingbao traditions, and details the increasing influence of Buddhist cosmology on the development of orthodox Taoism, and on perceptions of the afterlife in the vernacular tradition.

in Voices from the Underworld
Abstract only
liminality and the dis/composure of migrant femininities in the post- war English city

This chapter analyses the different ways three women, newly arrived in England, interact with competing constructions of the female migrant to explore the changing constitution of migrant femininities at an interstitial moment in the migration journey. Inscribed through the discursive practices of priests and Catholic welfare workers, journalists and popular novelists, these constructions made available a number of different frameworks on which women could draw to order their memories of what was a potentially destabilising moment in both the life and migration cycles, when migrants were between families and places. Yet tensions within and between such frameworks could also create problems for the process of self-construction, problems in which these discursive tensions were complexly imbricated with subjects’ ambivalent desires for significant others both ‘back home’ and newly encountered in the place of arrival. Where migration is sometimes represented as a process via which women ‘achieve’ a sense of autonomous selfhood, this chapter offers a snapshot of the difficult process of ‘becoming’: instead of a linear narrative about the rejection or reproduction of patriarchy, what emerges is an account of the re/formation of gendered migrant subjectivities as the unstable and incomplete product of competing discourses and conflictual desires.

in Life history and the Irish migrant experience in post-war England