John Narayan, University of Warwick
21 November 2017
The history of the US Black Power movement and its constituent groups such as the Black Panther Party has recently gone through a process of historical reappraisal, which challenges the characterisation of Black Power as the violent, misogynist and negative counterpart to the Civil Rights movement. Indeed, scholars have furthered interest in the global aspects of the movement, highlighting how Black Power was adopted in contexts as diverse as India, Israel and Polynesia. This paper will highlight that Britain also possessed its own distinctive form of Black Power movement, which whilst inspired and informed by its US counterpart, was also rooted in anti-colonial politics, New Commonwealth immigration and the onset of decolonisation. Existing sociological narratives usually locate the prominence and visibility of British Black Power and its activism, which lasted through the 1960’s to the early 1980’s, within the broad history of UK race relations and the movement from anti-racism to multiculturalism. However, this characterisation underplays and neglects how such Black activism conjoined explanations of domestic racism with issues of imperialism and global inequality. Through recovering this history the paper seeks to bring to a fore a forgotten part of British history and also examine how the history of British Black Power offers valuable lessons about how the politics of anti-racism and anti-imperialism should be united in the 21st century.
John Narayan is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Department of Sociology at the University of Warwick. His current research focuses on the global politics of Black Power. His first book John Dewey: The Global Public and its Problems (2016) was published with Manchester University Press. And he is co-editor of European Cosmopolitanism: Colonial Histories and Post-Colonial Societies (2016).