'Race', Ethnicity and National Identity

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The opening of Jackie Kay's poem, 'So You Think I'm a Mule?' , brings into sharp focus white perceptions of race in the late twentieth century from the perspective of a black woman. The opening gambit - 'where do you come from?' - shows the white woman's view that the black woman is not British, let alone Glaswegian, someone who belongs - if at all - elsewhere. In the first half of the twentieth century this 'elsewhere' was generally seen as an empire under British colonial rule, where black people were safely contained and controlled. In the 1950s and 1960s, when the colonial encounter was reversed through black and South Asian migration to Britain, 'coloured immigrants' were seen as a threat to Britishness. The pattern of familial imagery used in an imperial context - where Britain was the 'mother country' , and the king was the father of a family which extended throughout the empire - was reversed as 'immigrants' were represented as 'dark strangers'. In twentieth-century mainstream media, the black woman was most likely to be represented as British when she was standing on an Olympic podium, receiving a gold medal.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWomen in Twentieth-Century Britain
Subtitle of host publicationSocial, Cultural and Political Change
EditorsIna Zweiniger-Bargielowska
Place of PublicationHarlow
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781317876922, 9781315838458
ISBN (Print)9781138148093, 9780582404809
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


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