Editor: Bill Schwarz

Caribbean migration to Britain brought many new things—new music, new foods, new styles. It brought new ways of thinking too. This book explores the intellectual ideas that the West Indians brought with them to Britain. It shows that, for more than a century, West Indians living in Britain developed a dazzling intellectual critique of the codes of Imperial Britain. Chapters discuss the influence of, amongst others, C. L. R. James, Una Marson, George Lamming, Jean Rhys, Claude McKay and V. S. Naipaul. The contributors draw from many different disciplines to bring alive the thought and personalities of the figures they discuss, providing a picture of intellectual developments in Britain from which we can still learn much. The introduction argues that the recovery of this Caribbean past, on the home territory of Britain itself, reveals much about the prospects of multiracial Britain.

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his wife again; was never to see his daughter; and he never returned to the Caribbean. This represents a particular variant on the theme of emigration which underwrites the story of twentieth-century Caribbean intellectuals. From 1929 to 1933 Padmore energetically devoted himself to the ideals of Soviet Communism, rising high in the firmament of the Communist administration; thereafter, until his death

in West Indian intellectuals in Britain
Claude McKay’s experience and analysis of Britain

, were to change radically, especially after he visited the metropolis seven years later. He ended his days hating England and the civilisation it represented. Unlike the other Caribbean intellectuals represented in this volume (barring only Padmore) McKay’s journey to England was indirect: he journeyed not from the Caribbean, but from New York after an absence of more than seven years from his native

in West Indian intellectuals in Britain
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Feminism, anti-colonialism and a forgotten fight for freedom

When we think about the factors that have contributed to the beginnings of a West Indian British intellectual tradition, we would commonly bring to mind the towering figure of C. L. R. James and his comrades of the pre- Windrush generation, such as George Padmore. It would also be important to acknowledge the generation of nationalist writers and thinkers based in the Caribbean itself, such

in West Indian intellectuals in Britain
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West Indian intellectual

nation. As colonies, the West Indies related to Britain; historically their identity was unequivocally dependent. C. L. R. James describes himself in his youth as ‘A British intellectual long before I was ten, already an alien in my own environment, even my own family’. 21 The West Indian spiritual world that Brathwaite evokes is significantly an African one: the West Indies is only in a partial sense

in West Indian intellectuals in Britain
The BBC’s Caribbean Voices

the crisis of the 1930s. Yet with no in-house expertise the BBC was obliged to call upon intellectuals from the West Indies. As Marson’s career at the BBC suggests, however, there could never be any firm distinction between the Corporation’s wish for boosting the morale of the colonies for the war-effort, on the one hand, and on the other, the formulation of a wider cultural strategy which carried with

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intellectuals as experts 29 2 1 Intellectuals as experts Those who are charged with saying what counts as true – Michel Foucault2 As I am writing this chapter, the news is heartbreaking: floods in India, Nepal and Bangladesh displacing millions and killing ­thousands – a taster of climate change to come; the resurgence of fears of nuclear war and ill-chosen jokes about Armageddon from those who have not experienced this fear as real; a US president who equates armed neo-Nazis in Charlottesville with anti-fascist protesters and sanctions police brutality; a

in Change and the politics of certainty
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The predicament of history

The moment in 1968 when C. L. R. James explicitly named a tradition of West Indian intellectuals symbolised an ending rather than a beginning. Essentially, the West Indian intellectual, so named, was a colonial phenomenon. As Catherine Hall demonstrates in the opening chapter, the term ‘West Indian’ always represented a complex of competing ideas, a resource for both

in West Indian intellectuals in Britain
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Crossing the seas

British Museum in order that he could engage with the intellectual culture which had formed him. 8 His continuing renown derives from the fact that he took on the great imperial figure of J. A. Froude – disciple of Thomas Carlyle and regius professor of modern history at Oxford – and, with a relentless, lively irony, mashed him. In 1887 Froude had published The English in

in West Indian intellectuals in Britain
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in 1952 (with a prologue written by Lamming). 17 In London, Lamming mixed with the poets Dylan Thomas, Louis McNeice, and George Barker, and with fellow West Indians, through whom he entered into a European network of exiled, black intellectuals. His friend C. L. R. James was in contact with Richard Wright in Paris. Wright wrote the introduction to the first (American) edition of In

in West Indian intellectuals in Britain