Mixed Race Britain in The Twentieth Century

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2018-05-25 02:20Z by Steven

Mixed Race Britain in The Twentieth Century

Palgrave Macmilan
552 pages
26 b/w illustrations
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-137-33927-0
eBook ISBN: 978-1-137-33928-7
DOI: 10.1057/978-1-137-33928-7

Chamion Caballero, Visiting Senior Fellow
London School of Economics

Peter J. Aspinall, Emeritus Reader
University of Kent, United Kingdom

  • Presents a comprehensive history of racial mixing in Britain during the twentieth century
  • Contrasts ‘ordinary’ voices sourced from archival material from across the twentieth century with official media and government accounts of racial mixing in Britain
  • Formed the foundations of the popular BBC Two television series Mixed Brittannia that explored the history of Britain’s mixed-race community

This book explores the overlooked history of racial mixing in Britain during the course of the twentieth century, a period in which there was considerable and influential public debate on the meanings and implications of intimately crossing racial boundaries.

Based on research that formed the foundations of the British television series Mixed Britannia, the authors draw on a range of firsthand accounts and archival material to compare ‘official’ accounts of racial mixing and mixedness with those told by mixed race people, couples and families themselves.

Mixed Race Britain in The Twentieth Century shows that alongside the more familiarly recognised experiences of social bigotry and racial prejudice there can also be glimpsed constant threads of tolerance, acceptance, inclusion and ‘ordinariness’. It presents a more complex and multifaceted history of mixed race Britain than is typically assumed, one that adds to the growing picture of the longstanding diversity and difference that is, and always has been, an ordinary and everyday feature of British life.

Table of contents

  • Introduction; Caballero, Chamion (et al.)
  • ‘Disharmony of Physical, Mental and Temperamental Qualities’: Race Crossing, Miscegenation and the Eugenics Movement; Caballero, Chamion (et al.)
  • Mixed Race Communities and Social Stability; Caballero, Chamion (et al.)
  • ‘Unnatural Alliances’ and ‘Poor Half-Castes’: Representations of Racial Mixing and Mixedness and the Entrenching of Stereotypes; Caballero, Chamion (et al.)
  • Fitting In and Standing Out: Lived Experiences of Everyday Interraciality; Caballero, Chamion (et al.)
  • ‘Tan Yanks’, ‘Loose Women’ and ‘Brown Babies’: Official Accounts of Mixing and Mixedness During the Second World War; Caballero, Chamion (et al.)
  • ‘Undesirable Element’: The Repatriation of Chinese Sailors and Break Up of Mixed Families in the 1940s; Caballero, Chamion (et al.)
  • Conviviality, Hostility and Ordinariness: Everyday Lives and Emotions in the Second World War and Early Post-war Years; Caballero, Chamion (et al.)
  • Redefining Race: UNESCO, the Biology of Race Crossing, and the Wane of the Eugenics Movement; Caballero, Chamion (et al.)
  • The Era of Mass Immigration and Widespread Population Mixing; Caballero, Chamion (et al.)
  • ‘Would You Let Your Daughter Marry a Black Man?’: Representation and Lived Experiences in the Post-war Period; Caballero, Chamion (et al.)
  • The Emergence of the ‘New Wave’: Insider-Led Studies and Multifaceted Perceptions; Caballero, Chamion (et al.)
  • Social Acceptance, Official Recognition, and Membership of the British Collectivity; Caballero, Chamion (et al.)
  • A Postscript to the Twentieth Century: Mainstream and Celebrated Limitations, and Counter-narratives; Caballero, Chamion (et al.)
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An interview with Dr Chamion Caballero

Posted in Articles, Interviews, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2014-10-31 19:07Z by Steven

An interview with Dr Chamion Caballero

University of Cambridge
Festival of Ideas

Dr Chamion Caballero, a senior research fellow at London Southbank University, is speaking at the “Mixed race: the future of identity politics in Britain” debate on 25th October. Her research formed the basis of the BBC’s recent Mixed Britannia series, fronted by George Alagaiah. With Dr Peter Aspinall of Kent University, she collected histories, photographs, images and film to highlight the voices and first-hand experiences of mixed race people. The photo is from LBSU’s coverage of the Mixed Britannia series.

Q What was the feedback from Mixed Britannia?

A The feedback from the Mixed Britannia series has been phenomenal. The BBC tells us that it received the second highest audience satisfaction score for a current affairs series and even now we continue to receive emails from viewers all around the world who inform us just how fascinating, enlightening and moving they found the programmes.

Q How did you become involved?

A In 2007, Dr Peter Aspinall (University of Kent) and I were awarded funding by the British Academy to explore the mostly overlooked experiences of mixed race people, couples and families in early twentieth century Britain, a period which we had come to understand had seen considerable public debate on racial mixing and mixedness. This project – The Era of Moral Condemnation: Mixed Race People in Britain, 1920-50 – unearthed a range of material and the strength of the findings was such that they inspired and formed the foundations of the Mixed Britannia series on which we acted as academic consultants.

Q Has it affected your ongoing research?

A Yes, absolutely. While the broadcast medium was a very successful dissemination route, it was nevertheless a temporary and partial one: the series is no longer available to view on iPlayer and, moreover, only provides an overview of the history rather than the more detailed account that we are able to provide through, for example, academic publications which are themselves accessed by a limited readership. With this in mind – alongside the awareness of what Dr Caroline Bressey calls the ‘absence of colour in British Archives’ – we recognised the need to identify new and creative ways to provide access to archival material on the lived experiences of groups whose histories remain somewhat hidden from public understandings. In 2012, we collaborated with the third sector organisation Mix-d and were fortunate to receive a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council to create the ‘Mix-d Museum’, an interactive online repository of the material we had collected on racial and ethnic mixing in 20th century Britain. We are also in the process of finalising our book based on the research behind the programme to be published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2015 as Racial Mixing and Mixedness in Britain: Social Constructions and Lived Experience in the 20th and 21st Centuries

Read the entire interview here.

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TV Review: Mixed Race Britain – Mixed Britannia

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, Social Work, United Kingdom, Videos on 2011-12-15 03:24Z by Steven

TV Review: Mixed Race Britain – Mixed Britannia

Number 630 (2011-10-24)

Anoushka Shepherd

Mixed Race Britain: Mixed Britannia, BBC2, 6-20 October 2011, Presented by George Alagiah

I am mixed race, and thereby a member the fastest growing ethnic minority in the UK. My British dad met my Sri Lankan mum while travelling in the 1970s. They married and settled in Manchester where I grew up. And although I was definitely alive to the fact that their marriage was a joining of two very different cultures, I had no idea of the deep and contentious history of mixed relationships in this country.

In this three-part documentary, George Alagiah recounts the largely untold story of mixed race Britain and the many love stories that overcame extreme social hardship to create it…

…In summary, all three programmes are packed with interviews and are rich in photographs and footage from the archives. This is a very real and intimate recollection of the history of this country told in the refreshingly honest words of those who were there. All the stories told are different, interesting and moving in their own ways…

Read the entire review here.

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Not as simple as black or white

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2011-11-25 06:56Z by Steven

Not as simple as black or white

The Voice

Elizabeth Pears

How mixed-race Brits are tackling issues surrounding dual heritage

LAST MONTH, the UK’s fastest growing ethnic minority, as part of the BBC’s Mixed Britannia series, reignited the debate of what it means to be ‘mixed-race’.

Demographers have predicted that Britain’s mixed-race population will reach 1.3 million by 2020 – almost double the number recorded in 2001. Of this figure, 45 percent are mixed white and black.

But despite increasing acceptance of inter-racial relationships and more visible mixed-race people such as Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton, actress Thandie Newton and Olympian Kelly Holmes, the concept of being mixed-race remains quite literally a grey area – a type of no man’s land where nothing is as simple as black or white.

Some critics find the need for mixed-race people to identify as such divisive, and argue that biologically there can be no such thing. Others argue that by merit of having a collective experience, mixed-race people should be free to align themselves in this way, and subsequently, get their voice heard when it comes to policy and decision-making.


Then there are those who are comfortable self-defining as black in the political sense as a means of navigating British society.

Bradley Lincoln, founder of social enterprise Mix-D, whose aim is to provide a year-round national platform for mixed-race debate, said: “When we talk about being mixed-race there is a danger of either over-celebrating or sounding like a victim.

“Mixed-race people are not foot soldiers for a new racism. It is not a homogenous group. It is not a separate ethnic grouping – but it is time to move the conversation forward, particularly within the education and the social care system where many mixed children are considered just black.”…

Read the entire article here.

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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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Mixed Britannia: Part 3 of 3 (1965-2011)

Posted in Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Work, United Kingdom, Videos on 2011-10-25 04:09Z by Steven

Mixed Britannia: Part 3 of 3 (1965-2011)


George Alagiah, Host

Below is the last episode as four 15-minute videos.

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‘Mixed Britannia’ – research by LSBU’s Dr Caballero informs BBC series

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2011-10-06 22:19Z by Steven

‘Mixed Britannia’ – research by LSBU’s Dr Caballero informs BBC series

London South Bank University

Research conducted by Dr Chamion Caballero, Senior Research Fellow in London South Bank University’s Families and Social Capital Research Group, has formed the foundations of a BBC2 series starting on Thursday 6 October.

Dr Caballero was an academic consultant for the three-part series ‘Mixed Britannia‘, which is presented by George Alagiah. This is part of a season of BBC programmes which explores what it means to be part of Britain’s mixed-race community.

Dr Caballero is interviewed for the final programme in the series which will air on Thursday 20 October…

…Dr Chamion Caballero says: “Despite there being a long presence of mixed race people and couples in Britain, there is still a tendency to herald their presence as part of a new multicultural phenomenon which has been dubbed the rise of ‘Beige or Brown Britain’. Yet such groups have a long history in Britain…

Read the entire article (and view a family portrait circa, 1916) here.  Find out more about the research here.

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Mixed Britannia, BBC Two, review

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2011-10-06 21:58Z by Steven

Mixed Britannia, BBC Two, review

The Telegraph

Josephine Moulds

Josephine Moulds reviews the first episode of BBC Two’s documentary Mixed Britannia, presented by George Alagiah.

The first part of an ambitious documentary series, Mixed Britannia, ran last night, continuing BBC Two’s season about mixed-race life in the UK.

Over the course of three programmes, it aims to show the experiences of mixed-race people living in Britain from 1910 to the present day. The problem was it tiptoed so lightly around the subject of race, the first episode at least fell rather flat.

Last night covered 1910-1939, so presenter George Alagiah could shudder at how racist our country once was rather than tackle the thornier issue of the current climate. (That is saved for the last instalment.)…

Read the entire article here.

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Beware this new mixed-race love-in

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2011-10-06 02:49Z by Steven

Beware this new mixed-race love-in

The Guardian

Joseph Harker, Assistant Comment Editor

I’m glad that attitudes to mixed-race people have changed. But does it all mask a subtler kind of racism?

Why does everyone want to be like me? According to scientific research (yes, really) I’m not only more beautiful than, but also biologically superior to, other humans. Advertisers use people like me all the time – to show how cool they are, how modern, how cutting-edge. People like me win world championships, X Factor, and even the keys to the White House. Yes, in today’s world it’s great to be mixed race. If Nina Simone were alive, surely she’d be singing: “To be young, gifted and mixed”.

This week the BBC is marking the 10th anniversary of the ethnic category being included on the UK census with a three-part documentary, Mixed Britannia, part of its mixed race season (in which I’ve had a small role). Between 1991 and 2001 there was a 150% increase in those identifying themselves as “mixed”. Young people in particular are keen to adopt this label, and with more than 50% of Caribbean-origin children having one white parent, and other racial mixes on the rise too, the figures for this year’s census look set for another huge leap…

…I can see why young people may want to adopt this identity – but there’s also a certain naivety to it, in that it ignores the history of anti-racist struggle and of mixed-race people themselves…

…The biggest delusion of all, which props up this whole debate, is the notion that black and white people forming loving relationships proves racism is being defeated: that the quality of life for Britain’s minorities can be measured by the number of interracial relationships. But this is fantasy. Compare it with gender equality. Would anyone seriously claim that, because men and women feel attraction for each other, sexism cannot exist? From the days of master-slave girl couplings, it’s always been clear that what people do in the bedroom is completely separate from what they do in the outside world…

Read the entire article here.

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Mixed Britannia – marrying an alien

Posted in Asian Diaspora, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom, Videos on 2011-10-03 16:56Z by Steven

Mixed Britannia – marrying an alien


George Alagiah, Host

Nearly 100 years ago, Chinese seaman Stanley Ah Foo arrived in Liverpool to start a new life. He soon fell in love—but laws at the time meant that his English bride, Emily, was only able to marry if she gave up her British nationality and became a so-called alien herself.

In Mixed Britannia—a new three-part series for BBC 2—George Alagiah explores the often untold stories of Britain’s mixed-race communities. He met Stanley and Emily Ah Foo’s daughters, Doreen and Lynne, who told the remarkable story of how their parents met, and the restrictions placed upon them.

The first episode of Mixed Britannia will be broadcast on BBC 2 at 20:00Z (21:00 BST) on Thursday, 2011-10-06.

View the video clip here (00:02:11).

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