The Illegitimate Son of England
: An Autoethnographic Exploration Navigating Race and Constructing Identity from the 1960s to present

  • Milton Brown

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Interviewing revealed that much of the impact of hardship and discrimination has remained hidden and unvoiced for people of African Caribbean descent. People had few opportunities for reflection and many younger people remain unaware of how contemporary societal challenges mesh with unresolved issues in the past. This is particularly true in a provincial northern town such as Huddersfield where insufficient opportunities for educational achievement, social mobility and economic betterment have relegated some of the African Caribbean descent population to relative insularity and disadvantage. Being recorded offered personal and public meaning to a contested national political past and conflictive
present on local terms. As community members repeatedly indicated, it allowed people to digest their own lived experiences and feel liberated through voicing and watching the lived experiences of others. I spelt out the extent of that emotional unburdening at the start of the documentary:

It’s about their tears, laughter, hopes, aspirations and fears, bringing to light the challenges of navigating race and defining multiple identities in the celebration of their heritage, tradition, rituals, faith and culture.

Interviewing opened a window upon multiple experiences brought by individual identities,backgrounds, cultures, island histories, colonialism and diasporic legacies. Previously unheard local voices offered under-acknowledged family and personal circumstances that built a more nuanced understanding of decades wracked by controversies over immigration and race and emerging signs of industrial decline. Local testimonies challenged the imposed labelling that often ignores family histories of shared, multiple heritage and inter-island identities. Reminiscences about external oppression exposed an early sense of togetherness
that was rooted in both the commonality of coming from elsewhere and religious practices, leading me to acknowledge that:

My generation and those who came here, which was my sister’s generation, had to go to church. We weren’t enriched or stained by the British culture. Our childhood was enriched by what came from the Caribbean. And the way this country treated [...] the Caribbean migrants, it instilled that cohesion amongst the African Caribbean community.
Date of Award13 Mar 2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorBarry Doyle (Main Supervisor)

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