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Series:

Heather Walton

Katie Cannon's famous work Black Womanist Ethics begins with arguments aimed at establishing the existence of a 'Black woman's literary tradition' and the cultural specificity of black women's writing. This chapter traces a trajectory away from representing women's literature as 'everywoman' in cultural form towards a recognition that literature may embody rather the specific, the located and the particular. The work of Kathleen Sands carries the engagement of feminist theology with women's writing into a new epoch in which a cautious engagement with critical theory is brought into dialogue with the liberative traditions of religious feminism. Sands outlines how Christian theology has sought to protect itself from knowledge of evil using two main strategies. She terms these the 'rationalist' and 'dualist' responses. Sands approves her adoption of a Foucauldian analysis which rejects alien moral absolutes and which locates knowledge and power in the discursive activities of dominating or subjugated groups.

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“To allay people’s fears on numbers”

The introduction of dispersal in Southall

Olivier Esteves

This chapter analyses the local historical background to the introduction of dispersal in Southall, after education secretary Edward Boyle visited Beaconsfield Primary School on 15 October 1963. In 1960–62, the soaring number of Punjabi Asians in the area caused a great deal of discontent among autochthonous whites, who were afraid that the influx of non-Anglophone pupils would hold back their own children’s education. Some of these campaigned against the looming threat of ‘ghetto schools’ through the Southall Residents Association, which was instrumental in bringing about the ministerial visit at the genesis of schooling dispersal. This chapter also gives a detailed account and analysis of the introduction of dispersal locally, which proved difficult since some white parents were averse to the arrival of Asian children in their own children’s schools.

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Taking the bullying by the horns

The emergence of resistance to bussing

Olivier Esteves

The 1970s saw a growing challenge of assimilationist policies at the root of dispersal. Despite that, the hurdles to an efficient movement against it were many: the necessity to make a living among Asian immigrants, difficult access to information about dispersal schools, the fact that immigrants faced a bureaucracy which was opaque to them, etc. The Race Relations Board as well as the Ealing Community Relations Council proved instrumental in generating a growing awareness of the problems around and of the discriminatory nature of dispersal. For many Asians, the struggle against dispersal was primarily about equality and the recognition of a common human dignity, as is attested in some testimonies of former militants. In this chapter, the Kogan Report (commissioned by the RRB) is also analysed in depth, as well as the way dispersal illustrated in its last years a form of Welfare roll-back, rather than a policy of immigrant assimilation.

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Seeing cities through bombsights

Urban geographies of war after 1945

Adam Page

The fourth chapter discusses the period immediately after 1945, when the government and intelligence planners began to look towards the next war. The city had been redefined by bombing, and after 1945 defence planners continued the process of mapping and evaluating urban areas according to their vulnerability to air raids. The chapter examines intelligence and civil defence planning documents and debates which drew imagined attacks onto maps of British cities. Cities were divided into ‘Bull’s-Eye Areas’ and ‘cushion areas’, and an arithmetic of destruction was produced that presented air war as a series of calculations. This chapter examines the relationship between military ideas about urban containment, zoning and dispersal, and their civilian iterations in urban planning techniques and theories. In both instances, density was read as vulnerability, and a case study of the development of ‘fire zoning’ demonstrates how new urban geographies of war drew on civilian architectural expertise to create a vision of cities as targets that was central to the development of the Cold War.

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Reluctant cities

How London and Birmingham said no to dispersal

Olivier Esteves

In this chapter, the local situations of Birmingham and London are analysed. Although these were the two conurbations accommodating by far the largest number of immigrant children, they were reluctant to introduce dispersal. In Birmingham, some key Labour figures (Denis Howell, Roy Hattersley) campaigned actively in favour of it, and were dissatisfied when the city refused to operate it, afraid as it was of its detrimental effects. There, dispersal was a major bone of contention, until a voluntary type of dispersal was finally decided upon, which proved ineffective against ethnic-minority clustering in schools. In the Inner London Education Authority, dispersal was more massively rejected, mostly owing to a neighbourhood-school-based approach and to the specific resources London enjoyed. Lastly, this chapter studies the debate on the introduction of ‘banding’ in Haringey, which was presented as an IQ-based type of dispersal. This caused a major controversy after Alderman Doulton locally suggested West Indians had lower IQs than autochthonous pupils.

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Planning a ‘militant peace’

Air raid precautions for peace and for war

Adam Page

Chapter two begins in 1935, when the ARP Committee was transformed into a full department within the Home Office, and continues to the bombings of 1940. It details the various ways in which government planners and architects explained preparations for air raids as an increasingly normalised and permanent part of town planning and economic development. This chapter argues that the government’s approach to air raid precautions and their relation to planning reflects a narrowing of the gap between peace and war and signals the attempt to construct a condition of permanent stand-by for air raids. The argument is supported by analysis of government debates about the strategically vital electricity industry, before focusing on the architectural debates about the vulnerability of cities in their contemporary form of densely packed terraced houses and narrow streets. Architectural interventions in the debate about the threat from bombing reflected the reclassification of air raids as a concern for civilian planners and contributed to civil defence debates about how to prepare for war while trying not to induce it. These debates exposed the ambiguity and uncertainty created by the permanent and unpredictable threat of airpower.

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A ‘peace that is no peace’

Reconstruction, defence and development in town and country

Adam Page

Chapter five moves out of the city to the countryside. Planners in Britain had long insisted that the concepts of town and country should be keep apart, but this division was recast by the threat and experience of air war, when urban and rural areas were redefined as evacuation and reception areas, respectively. Plans for ‘New Towns’ and industrial dispersal brought civilian and military planning imperatives together, while anxieties about threats to rural landscapes connected modern war to broader concerns about industrialisation and urbanisation. Sensitive to this, architects and planners debated how wartime camouflage techniques might be used in peacetime to limit the impact of industrial dispersal on rural scenes. The severe economic difficulties of post-war Britain, and the uncertainty over the possibility of any meaningful passive defence from nuclear weapons, meant that ambitious Cold War dispersal policies largely failed to take root. The chapter finishes with a case study of debates about the location of electricity stations which demonstrates the limits of these planning visions.

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Olivier Esteves

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Adam Page

This section highlights the connections between the development of airpower and the work of planners and architects in mid-twentieth century Britain. Both military thinkers and town planners were drawing images of the future and making projections about the shape of the world to come, and these visions transformed contemporary perceptions of cities, as the danger of bombing was drawn ever closer to reality and civilian urban spaces were militarised. Airpower created a permanent threat, and the decision to target cities meant that the boundaries between peacetime and wartime became increasingly blurred. The key questions addressed in this book and the range of source materials used stress the importance of a study in this field that is focused on Britain.

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In the next war

The future of cities and the future of war

Adam Page

The first chapter covers the period from the end of the First World War until 1935, when the Air Raid Precautions Sub-Committee became a department in the Home Office. It draws together military, literary, planning and architectural visions of urban areas to highlight how dystopian versions of the future and responses to contemporary urban problems influenced the development of air power theories. It demonstrates that there was a widespread assumption that cities would be the primary targets in air war, and highlights the way airpower theorists’ arguments drew on perceptions of urban populations as weak and vulnerable. Science fiction and cultural anxieties about the future and cities were concentrated around the threat of bombing, and architects and planners were recasting their task as planning for survival in an anticipated era of air war. The three sections of this chapter connect the speculations and extrapolations of airpower theory to the debates in urbanism about the problems of the cities, and highlight the influence of aviation and the aerial view on speculations about the future shape of society and the possibility of urban annihilation from the air.