Digging at Roots and Tugging at Branches: Christians and 'Race Relations' in the Sixties
Date: 29 September 2016
University of Exeter
PhD in History
This thesis is a study of the ‘race relations’ work of Christians in the sixties in England, with specific reference to a Methodist church in Notting Hill, London. As such, it is also a study of English racisms: how they were fought against and how they were denied and facilitated. Additionally, the thesis pays attention to the interface ...
This thesis is a study of the ‘race relations’ work of Christians in the sixties in England, with specific reference to a Methodist church in Notting Hill, London. As such, it is also a study of English racisms: how they were fought against and how they were denied and facilitated. Additionally, the thesis pays attention to the interface of ‘religion’ and politics and the radical restatement of Christianity in the sixties. Despite a preponderance of sociological literature on 'race relations' and 'religion' in England, there has been a dearth of historical studies of either area in the post-war period. Therefore, this thesis is an important revision to the existing historiography in that it adds flesh to the bones of the story of post-war Christian involvement in the politics of 'race', and gives further texture and detail to the history of racism, 'race relations', and anti-racist struggles in England. Moreover, the thesis implicitly challenges the received wisdom of the decline of the churches in the sixties and shows an active engagement of Christians with politics. Using a wide range of private and public archives and interviews, the thesis takes a micro-study of the Notting Hill Methodist Church and places it within its wider contexts: how English Christians approached 'race' and 'race relations', what kinds of racialised political engagements existed in Notting Hill, and what kinds of racisms were expressed in England. The contextualised and detailed micro-study has enabled the thesis to capture the texture and depth which is needed to better understand 'race' and 'race relations' in post-war England. In doing so, the thesis sheds detailed light on some active 'civil rights' struggles in England and therefore challenges the received wisdom which views these struggles as being an American rather than an English (or British) story.
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