Inspired both by debates about the origins of the modern ideology of race and also by controversy over the place of Ireland and the Irish in theories of empire in the early modern Atlantic world, Renaissance Humanism and Ethnicity before Race argues that ethnic discourse among the elite in early modern Ireland was grounded firmly in the Renaissance Humanism and Aristotelianism which dominated all the European universities before the Enlightenment. Irish and English, Catholic and Protestant, all employed theories of human society based on Aristotle’s Politics and the natural law of the medieval universities to construct or dismantle the categories of civility and barbarism. The elites operating in Ireland also shared common resources, taught in the universities, for arguing about the human body and its ability to transmit hereditary characteristics. Both in Ireland and elsewhere in Europe, these theories of human society and the human body underwent violent changes in the late seventeenth century under the impact of the early Enlightenment. These changes were vital to the development of race as we know it.
In 1980–81, anti-police collective violence spread across England. This was the earliest confrontation between the state and members of the British public during Thatcher’s divisive government. This powerful and original book locates these disturbances within a longer struggle against racism and disadvantage faced by black Britons, which had seen a growth in more militant forms of resistance since the Second World War. In this first full-length historical study of 1980–81, three case studies – of Bristol, Brixton and Manchester – emphasise the importance of local factors and the wider situation, concluding that these events should be viewed as ‘collective bargaining by riot’ – as a tool attempting increased political inclusion for marginalised black Britons. Focusing on the political activities of black Britons themselves, it explores the actions of community organisations in the aftermath of disorders to highlight dichotomous valuations of state mechanisms. A key focus is public inquiries, which were contrastingly viewed by black Britons as either a governmental diversionary tactic, or a method of legitimising their inclusion with the British constitutional system. Through study of a wide range of newly available archives, interviews, understudied local sources and records of grassroots black political organisations, this work expands understandings of protest movements and community activism in modern democracies while highlighting the often-problematic reliance upon ‘official’ sources when forming historical narratives. Of interest to researchers of race, ethnicity and migration history, as well as modern British political and social history more generally, its interdisciplinary nature will also appeal to wider fields, including sociology, political sciences and criminology.
This book tells the story of a short-lived but vehement eugenics movement that emerged among a group of Europeans in Kenya in the 1930s, unleashing a set of writings on racial differences in intelligence more extreme than that emanating from any other British colony in the twentieth century. By tracing the history of eugenic thought in Kenya, it shows how the movement took on a distinctive colonial character, driven by settler political preoccupations and reacting to increasingly outspoken African demands for better, and more independent, education. Eugenic theories on race and intelligence were widely supported by the medical profession in Kenya, as well as powerful members of the official and non-official European settler population. However, the long-term failures of the eugenics movement should not blind us to its influence among the social and administrative elite of colonial Kenya. Through a close examination of attitudes towards race and intelligence in a British colony, the book reveals how eugenics was central to colonial racial theories before World War II.
This study of the ‘colour question’, 1870-1914, offers a new account of the British Empire’s most disturbing legacy. Following contradictions within the ideology of empire, the book provides a revisionist account of race in science, and an original narrative of the invention of the language of race relations, and of resistance to race-thinking. Constructions of race in both professional and popular science were rooted in the common culture, yet were presented as products of nature. Ironically, science only gained a larger public when imperialism, not nature, created a global pattern of racial subordination and conflict. Though often overlooked, the longer term legacy of Victorian racism grew out of the newly invented language of race relations. Originating in the abolitionist movement, this language applied to the management of the historically unprecedented multi-racial communities created by empire. A dissenting minority of abolitionists and persons of African and Asian descent championed racial egalitarianism and colonial nationalism in resistance to the dominant discourse. By 1910, they suffered a crushing defeat in contesting white power in South Africa. As a consequence, in the new twentieth century, visions of a colour-blind empire belonged to a sentimentalised, archaic abolitionist past. Under the guise of imperial trusteeship, a new lexicon of race relations gave legitimacy to the institutionalised inequalities of an empire bifurcated by race.
This book compares the worldviews and factors that promoted or, indeed, opposed anti-semitism amongst Catholics in Germany and England after the First World War. As a prequel to books on Hitler, fascism and genocide, it turns towards ideas and attitudes that preceded and shaped the ideologies of the 1920s and 1940s. Apart from the long tradition of Catholic anti-Jewish prejudices, the book discusses new and old alternatives to European modernity offered by Catholics in Germany and England. Numerous events in the interwar years provoked anti-Jewish responses among Catholics: the revolutionary end of the war and financial scandals in Germany; Palestine and the Spanish Civil War in England. At the same time, the rise of fascism and National Socialism gave Catholics the opportunity to respond to the anti-democratic and anti-semitic waves these movements created in their wake. The book is a political history of ideas that introduces Catholic views of modern society, race, nation and the ‘Jewish question’. It shows to what extent these views were able to inform political and social activity.
‘Slaying the dragon of Eskimo status’ before the Supreme Court of Canada, 1939
As a colony Canada inherited
both English and French law, was pummelled by American influences,
and asserted imperialistic powers of its own across racial
boundaries vis-à-vis First Nations’ and Aboriginal
communities. This paper focuses on the legal definition of
‘race’, an area riddled with Canadian imperialist
thought and practice, at the
Eugenics and birth control in Johannesburg, 1930-40
nobler, more intelligent, energetic and healthier citizens of
the present should be the ancestors of future generations. 2 (H. B.
Fantham, from a lecture presented to the Race Welfare Society,
14 August 1930)
needs all the good children it can
our firm conviction that those interests will be best served by
promoting the welfare of the white population.’ 1
The comparison between settlers and anti-slavery advocates
becomes perverse, however, when the influence of racial thinking is
taken into account. As the nineteenth century wore on, scientists
constructed ever-more elaborate rankings of people by race, and by their
race’s level of
When General Charles Gordon lived at Gravesend in the 1860s, he turned himself into a child rescuer. This book contributes to understandings of both contemporary child welfare practices and the complex dynamics of empire. It analyses the construction and transmission of nineteenth-century British child rescue ideology. The book aims to explain the mentality which allowed the child removal policy to flourish. The disseminated publications by four influential English child rescue organisations: Dr. Barnardo's (DBH), the National Children's Homes (NCH), the Church of England Waifs and Strays Society (WSS) and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), are discussed. The gospel of child rescue was a discursive creation, the impact of which would be felt for generations to come. The body of the child was placed within a familiar environment, rendered threatening by the new social, religious and moral meanings ascribed to it. Ontario's 1888 Children's Protection Act required local authorities to assume maintenance costs of wards and facilitated the use of foster care. Changing trends in publishing have created an opportunity for the survivors of out-of-home care to tell their stories. The book shows how the vulnerable body of the child at risk came to be reconstituted as central to the survival of nation, race and empire. The shocking testimony that official enquiries into the treatment of children in out-of-home 'care' held in Britain, Ireland, Australia and Canada imply that there was no guarantee that the rescued child would be protected from further harm.
Race in a godless world is the first historical analysis of the racial views of
atheists and freethinkers. It centers on Britain and the United States in the
second half of the nineteenth century, a time when a popular atheist movement
emerged and skepticism about the truth of Christianity became widespread, and
when scientific racism developed and Western countries colonized much of the
globe. The book covers racial and evolutionary science, imperialism in Africa
and Asia, slavery and segregation in the United States, debates over
immigration, and racial prejudice in theory and practice. The book’s central
argument is that there was a constant tension throughout the period between, on
the one hand, white atheists’ general acceptance that white, western
civilization represented the pinnacle of human progress, and, on the other,
their knowledge that these civilizations were so closely intertwined with
Christianity. This led to a profound ambivalence about issues of racial and
civilizational superiority. At times, white atheists assented to scientific
racism and hierarchical conceptions of civilization; at others, they denounced
racial prejudice and spoke favourably of non-white, non-western civilizations.
As secularization continues and atheists move from the periphery to the
mainstream, the book concludes by asking whether this pattern of ambivalence
will continue in the future.