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'There Ain't no Black in the Union Jack': The Cultural Politics of Race and Nation
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'There Ain't no Black in the Union Jack': The Cultural Politics of Race and Nation

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  200 ratings  ·  11 reviews
Gilroy demonstrates the enormous complexity of racial politics in England today. Exploring the relationships among race, class, and nation as they have evolved over the past twenty years, he highlights racist attitudes that transcend the left-right political divide. He challenges current sociological approaches to racism as well as the ethnocentric bias of British cultural ...more
Paperback, 280 pages
Published December 1st 1991 by University of Chicago Press (first published March 1st 1987)
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Oct 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: research, 2018
The parts about music went over my head.

There's a core here that really resonates and stays relevant (particularly worth thinking about post-Windrush scandal) and some of it could have used a much stronger attention to issues of gender. Perhaps my reading is hopelessly asynchronous; I come to the book with knowledge of the interventions feminism has made in the field of culture studies, and wish the author had known of texts that came after him. Or perhaps the gaps are still gaps.

This is as much about methodology as it is anything else. Gilroy attacks the narrow structuralist notions of 'race' in much sociology and the ethnocentricity of much of what passes as cultural studies by exploring the dynamics of 'race' and class in post-war Britain. Although the book dates from the late 1980s, it retains a vibrancy and engagement with popular and expressive cultural forms that, even if they have disappeared into the practices of the past, provides a model for analysis and pract ...more
May 09, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: race
Some theoretical nuggets of value but overburdened by extraneous detail. The entire chapter on music could have been cut to make a tighter and 70-page shorter book were it not for the fact that this is the author's pet interest.
At first I found the book very hard going, as he uses quite difficult language and concepts.But I kept going and started to enjoy it (even it I didn't agree 100% on all his political points). It was insightful and it almost felt as if you were there in the movement itself. However, I was hit by the last chapter. He seems to completely to completely change his position on the question of class and race, and starts using 'social movement theories' which don't really explain anything in my opinion. ...more
Mar 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Paul Gilroy offers a fluent account of 'race' and racism in Britain from the 1950s until the 1987, taking into account historical influences, political strategies, modes of representation in media, and by figures of authority (both police and politicians) and capitalist logic, albeit from a rather Marxist perspective. This book is an eye-opener into understanding British policies of 'race', and trying to combat them.
Oct 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Man, do I wish I'd have had the time to give this book the full attention it deserves. I read (skimmed) it for a class project. Paul Gilroy is now one of my new favorite scholars. He writes so clearly and with such passion and everything he says makes so much sense. I wish I could have devoted the entire project to just his work in cultural studies.
Irene Wang
Jan 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Gilroy demonstrates the enormous complexity of racial politics in England today. Exploring the relationships among race, class, and nation as they have evolved over the past twenty years, he highlights racist attitudes that transcend the left-right political divide. He challenges current sociological approaches to racism as well as the ethnocentric bias of British cultural studies.
An absorbing read with interesting, well executed analysis about race relations. You might not agree with some of the authors assumptions or perspectives, but the author is very persuasive. With a revised introduction!
So the copy I had out from the library had so much writing and underlining (in a variety of colors) I couldn't really manage to get through all of this, and after the intro and first chapter, skipped to the conclusion. Maybe if I get my hands on another copy I'll get through the rest.
Jun 14, 2009 rated it did not like it
i just couldn't get through this. too tough for me but it has really important material inside.
Read this book if you are interested in the contributions that black people have made to British society
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“It is possible and necessary to approach Britain's colonial history by more satisfactory methodological routes. Its racial subjects need a more complex genealogy than those debates allow. Industrial decline has been intertwined with technological change, with immigration and settlement, with ideological racism and spatial segregation along economic and cultural lines. We need to grasp how their coming together took place in a desperate setting which nonetheless allowed black communities over several generations to be recognised as political actors: they were irreducible to their class positions because racism entered into the multi-modal processes in which classes were being constituted. It helps to appreciate that this historical predicament was overdetermined by Britain's painful loss of Empire and, that the country's communities of the strange and alien are still sometimes at risk of being engulfed by the profound cultural and psychological consequences of decline which is evident on many levels: economic and material as well as cultural and psychological.” 1 likes
“Things had been different when Garveyism and Ethiopianism rather than afro-centrism and occultism set the tone. To contain modernity, to appreciate its colonial constitution and to criticise its reliance on racialised governmental codes all required finding an autonomous space outside it. A desire to exist elsewhere supplied the governing impulse. It was captured in compelling forms in the period's best songs of longing and flight, like Bunny Wailer's anthem ‘Dreamland’ 5. However, there is no longer any uncontaminated, pastoral or romantic location to which opposition and dissent might fly, and so, a new culture of consolation has been fashioned in which being against this tainted modernity has come to mean being before it. Comparable investments in the restorative power of the pseudo-archaic occur elsewhere. They help to make Harry Potter's world attractive and are routine features of much ‘new age’ thinking. They govern the quest for a repudiation of modernity that is shared by the various versions of Islam which have largely eclipsed Ethiopianism as the principal spiritual resource and wellspring of critique among young black Europeans. Their desire to find an exit from consumerism's triumphant phantasmagoria reveals them to be bereft, adrift without the guidance they would have absorbed, more indirectly than formally, from the national liberation movements of the cold war period and the struggles for both civil and human rights with which they were connected. Instead, an America-centred, consumer-oriented culture of blackness has become prominent. In this post-colonial setting, it conditions the dreams of many young Britons, irrespective of their ancestral origins or physical appearance. This brash and celebratory imperial formation is barely embarrassed by the geo-political fault-line that re-divides the world, opposing the overdeveloped north to the suffering south. That barrier provides the defining element in a new topography of global power which is making heavy demands upon the overwhelmingly national character of civil society and ideal of national citizenship. It is clear that the versions of black politics that belonged to the west/rest polarity will not adapt easily to this new configuration.” 0 likes
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