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Struggles for a pastIrish and Afro-Caribbean histories in England, 1951-2000$
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Kevin Myers

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780719084805

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719084805.001.0001

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History and humanism (1968–1981)

History and humanism (1968–1981)

(p.77) 2 History and humanism (1968–1981)
Struggles for a past

Kevin Myers

Manchester University Press

This chapter traces the activities through which first and second generation black and Irish migrants identified, appropriated and utilised their historical heritage in the period between 1968 and 1981. Routinely misidentified, their real and imagined social and psychological problems were taken as evidence of the difficulties of living between distinct and tightly bound cultures. Their struggle against their categorisation as an alien people entailed an engagement with their heritage and with history. Migrants mobilised to write themselves as subjects into history, and to develop modes of identification outside racialised boundaries and outside of the assumptions of race relations research. In order to do so they formed formal study groups, conducted historical research and developed alternative forms of education. They campaigned for public recognition of different histories and discussed and debated how to utilise historical knowledge in the present. Yet these struggles for a past remained constrained by the powerful assumptions of race relations work that assigned immigrants and their children to cultures in which they were supposed to find authentic identities.

Keywords:   Social psychology, Prejudice, Esteem, Radical education

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