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Enoch Powell and the making of postcolonial BritainCamilla Schofield
This dissertation focuses on the political career of Enoch Powell. It follows Powell's trajectory from a young army officer in the British Raj to the center of British politics in the 1960s through to his return to the periphery in Ulster Unionism. It argues that Powell's notorious opposition to the rights of entry into Britain of black, 'New Commonwealth' immigrants needs to be placed in the context of a crisis in post-imperial British conservatism and can best be understood as a reaction to the transnational political commitments and liberal hegemony of a Cold War world. With the aid of Powell's papers and the thousands of letters he received from the British public, this dissertation uncovers the crucial ways in which Powell and his supporters explicitly used memories of the Second World War to rewrite the meaning of the war within British political discourse. The war, which had served as the foundation for the moral justification of social democracy, state power, and Britain's alliance with America's Cold War crusade, was re-made, via Powellism, into a myth of Britain permanently under siege. The myth of the heroic sacrifice of 'the people'--a sacrifice that worked to resolve the contradictions of a classed society and legitimize the social peace of 1945--matured, with Powell's help, into a myth of white sacrifice and victimization, facing 'rivers of blood' as a result of immigration. Here is the essence of Powell's rhetoric of reaction, drawn from the Second World War and applied to the politics of race in late twentieth-century Britain.
Social sciences; Postcolonial; Britain; Powell, Enoch; Immigration; Postcolonial Britain; Conservatism; Cold War; Memory; Biographies; European history; Modern history; Military history; 0304:Biographies; 0722:Military history; 0335:European history; 0582:Modern history
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