Mixed Britannia [Reveiw]

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2011-10-28 04:14Z by Steven

Mixed Britannia [Review]

Caliban in London: a postcolonial subject in an imperial capital

Anindya Raychaudhuri, Post-Doctoral Fellow
Department of English Language and Literature
University College London

Caliban in London has previously reviewed part of the BBC’s new Mixed Race season. Thursday evening saw the screening of the first of a 3 part documentary called Mixed Britannia presented by George Alagiah. Using a mixture of archive footage, interviews with members of the community, and interviews with (unfortunately mainly White) academics and other experts, the programme attempts to trace the origins and development of mixed-race communities in Britain.

Mixed Britannia encapsulates both the best and the worst of the BBC. Great use of archival footage and old photographs, meticulously researched, apparently sympathetic interviewing – one knows the strengths of this type of BBC programming, and this example certainly does not disappoint in that area. The producers of the programme clearly attempt to at least appear to b as inclusive as possible, though partly the nature of archive footage means that when profiling mixed-race families, it is the White bit of the family that gets more of the spotlight. For example, what was noticeably lacking was any sense of the lives of these people before they came to Britain, and what ties they and their mixed-race families might or might not have kept with their ‘homelands’.

The bigger problems with this programme are, however, in the narrative. This episode ranged from 1910 to 1939, so it is not yet clear what narrative of current race-relations will be told in future episodes, but in this instance at least, it was very definitely one of ‘we used to be racist, and now we’re all better’. At multiple points in the programme, Alagiah read out excerpts from racist official documents, and invited the audience to share in the typically BBC self-righteous sense of superiority which can leave no room for the recognition that there are strong remnants of such thinking in today’s official policy…

Read the entire article here.

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