Black London: Two New Books on the Postcolonial British Capital

Global Urban History

Marc Matera, Black London: The Imperial Metropolis and Decolonization in the Twentieth Century, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2015, 414 pp., $29.95 / £22.95, ISBN: 9780520284302

Kennetta Hammond Perry, London is the Place for Me: Black Britons, Citizenship and the Politics of Race, New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016, 336 pp., $49.95 / £22.95, ISBN: 9780190240202

Reviewed by Michael Goebel, Freie Universität Berlin

If there is a specific date on which Britain became “postcolonial,” many would opt for June 22, 1948. On that day, a former Nazi naval vessel that the war’s outcome had Anglicized, now sailing by the name Empire Windrush, docked at Tilbury on the Thames Estuary. It carried around 500 West Indian labor migrants, who in the popular imagination represented the vanguard of larger numbers to come. Among them was a 26-year-old Trinidadian orphan who in London achieved world fame as the…

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