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Caribbean migration to Britain brought many new things—new music, new foods, new styles. It brought new ways of thinking too. This book explores the intellectual ideas that the West Indians brought with them to Britain. It shows that, for more than a century, West Indians living in Britain developed a dazzling intellectual critique of the codes of Imperial Britain. Chapters discuss the influence of, amongst others, C. L. R. James, Una Marson, George Lamming, Jean Rhys, Claude McKay and V. S. Naipaul. The contributors draw from many different disciplines to bring alive the thought and personalities of the figures they discuss, providing a picture of intellectual developments in Britain from which we can still learn much. The introduction argues that the recovery of this Caribbean past, on the home territory of Britain itself, reveals much about the prospects of multiracial Britain.

Stephanie Barczewski

tallies for crops and rents. 3 Fuller’s notebook and Douglas’s ledger embody in physical form the links between landed property in Britain and plantations in the West Indies. Other documents recall the complex financial entanglements that arose between British and West Indian property. In the late 1760s, Francis Eyre wanted simultaneously to purchase the Mullett Hall plantation in Jamaica and the

in Country houses and the British Empire, 1700–1930
Open Access (free)
Catherine Hall

For C. L. R. James West Indian identity was something to be celebrated, associated as it was for him, with the whole of the Caribbean, from Cuba and Haiti to Martinique, Trinidad and Jamaica. 1 Its distinctive character he saw as intimately linked to its particularly modern history, with the plantation at the centre of a global capitalist system linking slavery with

in West Indian intellectuals in Britain
Douglas J. Hamilton

As Chapters Three, Four and Five demonstrated, the operation of networks provided a general underpinning for Scottish activity in the West Indian empire in the later eighteenth century. The next two chapters consider more closely the functioning of this process in the political sphere. The island legislatures were responsible for introducing and discussing innovations designed to order

in Scotland, the Caribbean and the Atlantic world 1750–1820
Open Access (free)
Crossing the seas
Bill Schwarz

There exists a moving photographic record of West Indian emigrants arriving in British cities in the 1950s, first by steamship and steam train, then later, by the end of the decade and into the 1960s, by plane. We still see, in our own times, these images of men and women who, for all their apprehensions, were stepping across the threshold into new lives, bringing with them a certain

in West Indian intellectuals in Britain
The ‘rude awakenings’ of the Windrush era
Stuart Ward

emphasis on the ‘myth of the mother country … shattered’ by the experience of sudden proximity. 7 In Lovers and Strangers , historian Clair Wills assembles the key elements of what has become the conventional Windrush narrative: West Indian immigrants had been brought up to believe they were guaranteed a welcome in the

in The break-up of Greater Britain
Distance, perspective and an ‘inclusive nationhood’
Mary Chamberlain

, born of the everyday struggle for migrant families to survive, to maintain the links with (and channel the money to) the family and villages back home and to provide a locus of belonging. From the start, West Indian nationalism was fraught with ambivalence and tension, between the powerful pull of regional unity and racial solidarity, the emotional and pragmatic tug of birthplace, and the need to make sense of

in Empire and nation-building in the Caribbean
Open Access (free)
The predicament of history
Bill Schwarz

The moment in 1968 when C. L. R. James explicitly named a tradition of West Indian intellectuals symbolised an ending rather than a beginning. Essentially, the West Indian intellectual, so named, was a colonial phenomenon. As Catherine Hall demonstrates in the opening chapter, the term ‘West Indian’ always represented a complex of competing ideas, a resource for both

in West Indian intellectuals in Britain
Open Access (free)
West Indian intellectual
Helen Carr

could she be called a West Indian? Rhys herself was uncertain at times, and some of her critics have hotly debated the question. There is no doubt of her love for the disturbing beauty of her native Dominica, a recurrent if occasional theme from her earliest stories onwards, evoked most powerfully in her final novel, Wide Sargasso Sea . Yet in all her writing about the island there is the sense

in West Indian intellectuals in Britain
Cultural awakenings and national belongings
Mary Chamberlain

It is high time that West Indians realise that they, too, have a peculiar contribution to make to the world of tomorrow and that there is no reason why a literature and a culture typically West Indian should not emerge from the present welter of ideas and clash of opposing interests. 1 In the case of

in Empire and nation-building in the Caribbean