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HIST7341: London in the 20th Century: From Imperial to Global City

Dr Michael Collins

This module offers students a selective overview of aspects of cultural and social life in twentieth-century London. Its focus is on what Paul Gilroy terms ‘multiculture’, as opposed to ‘multiculturalism’. That is to say, it does not deal directly with the politics, policy and intellectual history of multiculturalism (although it expects students to familiarise themselves with these issues through their general reading). Instead, it divides the course up into a series of existential themes central to the human experience of migration and settlement. Arranged in loosely chronological order, these themes are intended to avoid a simple narrative account of the experiences of separate ‘ethnie’.

Whilst it utilizes case studies – for example Jewish migration, or the West Indian experiences in Notting Hill and Brixton – some of the topics covered also seek to elucidate the interconnected experiences of different social groups within London, including (for example in the sections on ‘youth’ and ‘love’) the ‘white working class’. The problem of class identity is in fact present throughout.

The teaching method will draw heavily on primary sources, aiming to give the students a feel for the detail of the social and cultural fabric they are examining. Each weekly seminar will focus on a core set of primary sources. Students will be expected to investigate newspapers, journals and film archives (where available).

The over-arching aim of the module is to illustrate how ‘multiculture’ is constantly made and remade in the everyday world, and should not simply be seen simply as a ‘policy problem’. The creation of multiculture is a process – often painful and conflictual – of dialogue, accommodation, exclusion and identity formation. London is a city rich is such histories.

Assessment method

HIST7341A/B: 2 X 2,500 word essays

Page last modified on 12 feb 15 11:42 by Jasmine Gane