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Level 5

5AAH3019 The 'Good' Migrant? Migration, Citizenship and the Nation in Twentieth Century Britain

Credit value: 30
Module convenor/tutor 2019/20: Dr Jack Saunders
Teaching pattern: 20 x 1 hour lectures; 20 x 1 hour seminars (weekly)
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
Assessment: 1 x 3 hour examination (60%), 2 x 2,000 word essays (15% each) & 1 x oral presentation (10%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment by the following methods: 1 x 3 hour examination (60%); 2 x 2,000 word essays (15% each); 1 x 1,500 word essay (10%)

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years

In the age of Trump, Brexit and the rise of the Right across Europe, immigration is perhaps the most controversial political question of the moment. Yet acrimonious debates about immigration, and the rights, responsibilities and consequences arising from it, are nothing new. From the Aliens Act of 1905 to the EU’s Free Movement of Persons Directive (2004/38/EC), politicians of all stripes and the wider public have endlessly contested who ‘belongs’ (and in what numbers) and how inculturation into British society and its ‘values’ should be performed and expressed.

 Within this module, we will explore the historical modulations of the concept of the ‘good’ immigrant – through the lens of race and ethnicity, religion, gender, region and class. Contestations over citizenship and the ‘right to remain’, encompassing the influx of economic labourers from Europe and the former empire, the circular migration of colonial students and transatlantic visitors, the flight of religious and political refugees, and the upheavals of war, economic depression and decolonization are key subjects for consideration. We will deconstruct the history of race as an idea and its policy correlates (‘race relations’, ‘assimilation’, ‘multiculturalism’, ‘hyper-diversity’) as well as mutating and enduring forms of prejudice, discrimination and racism across the century.

 At the root of these debates are differing configurations of the ‘nation’ and Britain’s relationship to Ireland, Europe, the Empire/Commonwealth and the wider world. We will ask common questions, through a variety of different historical topics, about who arrives, who is allowed to stay, and how these ‘foreigners’ settle in Britain.

Provisional topics

  1. Introduction and Key Concepts
  2. Right to Remain: Changing legal frameworks
  3. Across the Water: Irish Migration to Britain
  4. Political and religious exiles in Edwardian Britain
  5. Britain as sanctuary #1: refugees until 1945
  6. Britain as sanctuary #2: refugees from 1945
  7. Military Migration: Britain and the World Wars
  8. Kinder Transport: child migration across the Twentieth century
  9. Contesting Windrush: the impact of decolonization
  10. ‘Assimilation’ and Tolerance: Race Relations and its experts
  11. Migration to the Margins: the metropolis and beyond
  12. Racism, violence and resistance: anti-racism, community organisations and flashpoints
  13. Finding work: economic migration and education
  14. Making a home: material culture and migration
  15. Disapora and generational change – spotlight on the British Asian community
  16. Our European Neighbours: EU and migration
  17. From emigrants to ex-pats: outward migration from Britain
  18. Who gets to stay? Detention and deportation
  19. Where is home? (trans)national identities
  20. Migration today: Brexit, the refugee crisis and the Windrush scandal

Suggested Introductory Reading

This is suggested reading and purchase of these texts is not mandatory.

Jordanna Bailkin, The Afterlife of Empire (2012)

David Goodhart, The British Dream: Successes and Failures of Post-War Immigration (2014)

 ony Kushner, The Battle of Britishness: Migrant Journeys 1685 to the Present (2012) 

David Olusoga, Black and British: A Forgotten History (2016)

Kathleen Paul, Whitewashing Britain: Race and Citizenship in the Post-war Era (1997) 

Jennifer Redmond, Moving Histories: Irish Women’s Emigration to Britain from    Independence to Republic (2018)

Andrew Thompson, The Empire Strikes Back? The Impact of Imperialism on Britain from the Mid-Nineteenth Century (2005)

Wendy Webster, Englishness and Empire, 1939-1965 (2005)

Clair Wills, Lovers and Strangers: An Immigrant History of Post-War Britain (2018) 

Robert Winder, Bloody Foreigners: The Story of Immigration to Britain (2013)


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