Migrant Britain: Histories and Historiographies: Essays in Honour of Colin Holmes, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Migrant Britain

Histories and Historiographies: Essays in Honour of Colin Holmes, 1st Edition

Edited by Jennifer Craig-Norton, Christhard Hoffmann, Tony Kushner


324 pages | 2 B/W Illus.

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Britain has largely been in denial of its migrant past - it is often suggested that the arrivals after 1945 represent a new phenomenon and not the continuation of a much longer and deeper trend. There is also an assumption that Britain is a tolerant country towards minorities that distinguishes itself from the rest of Europe and beyond.

The historian who was the first and most important to challenge this dominant view is Colin Holmes, who, from the early 1970s onwards, provided a framework for a different interpretation based on extensive research. This challenge came not only through his own work but also that of a 'new school' of students who studied under him and the creation of the journal Immigrants and Minorities in 1982. 

This volume not only celebrates this remarkable achievement, but also explores the state of migrant historiography (including responses to migrants) in the twenty-first century.


"This invaluable collection provides an insight into the range of contributions that Colin Holmes made to the historical study of immigration and minorities. The essays collected here are written by his many former students and colleagues and are evidence of the depth of his work and its continuing relevance today. A must read for all who want to situate migration within a broader historical frame." Professor John Solomos, Sociology, University of Warwick

"A fitting tribute to a truly pioneering scholar whose individual endeavour, as well as unstinting support for junior academics, has resulted in a much greater understanding of the importance of migration in modern Britain. Its coverage is truly astounding and its list of contributors reads like a veritable 'Who's Who' within this now well-developed and well-respected academic field" Dr David Dee, Associate Professor in Modern History, De Montfort University. Author of The 'Estranged' Generation? Social and Generational Change in Interwar British Jewry (2017) and Sport and British Jewry: Integration, Ethnicity and Anti-Semitism, 1880-1970 (2013)

"Anyone wandering into the field of Britain's migration history soon discovers that the indispensable work has already been done - by Colin Holmes. Many years before it became a fashionable or topical subject, he became its master. There is not much written on the subject, even now, that does not owe a great deal to his original and inspiring spadework." Robert Winder, Migration Museum Project Trustee, UK.

Table of Contents

Tony Kushner, 'Colin Holmes: An Introduction'


Jennifer Craig-Norton, 'Introduction'

Chapter 1: Ken Lunn, ‘Uncovering traditions of intolerance: the earlier years of Immigrants and Minorities and the "Sheffield School"’

Chapter 2: Tony Kushner, ‘Colin Holmes and the Development of Migrant and Anti-Migrant Historiography’

Chapter 3: Tobias Brinkmann, ‘Looking Beyond the Nation State: the history of global migrations after 1800’

Chapter 4: Christhard Hoffmann, ‘Class vs. Ethnicity: concepts of migrant historiographies in Britain and (West) Germany, 1970s-1990s’


Tony Kushner, 'Introduction'

Chapter 5: Anne Kershen, 'From the Profitable Strangers to the residents of Banglatown: an exploration of the historiography of immigrants in London's East End'

Chapter 6: Anne Witchard, 'The Chinese Connection: an historiography'

Chapter 7: Panikos Panayi, 'The Uniqueness of London'

Chapter 8: Caroline Bressey, 'Spaces of Black History'


Christhard Hoffmann, 'Introduction'

Chapter 9: Geoffrey Alderman, ‘Academic Duty and Communal Obligation Revisited’

Chapter 10: Wendy Ugolini, ‘Weaving Italian Experience into the British Immigration Narrative’

Chapter 11: Jennifer Craig-Norton, ‘Jewish Refugee Historiography: moving beyond the celebratory?’

Chapter 12: Saima Nasar, ‘We Refugees? Re-defining Britain’s East African Asians’


Christhard Hoffmann, 'Introduction'

Chapter 13: Gavin Schaffer, ‘Race and Colour Revisited: white immigrants in post-war Britain’

Chapter 14: Barbara Bush, ‘Family Misfortunes? Gendered perspectives on West Indian migration, welfare policies and cultural racism in post-Second World War Britain’

Chapter 15: Krista Maglen, ʽInside, Outside, and In-Between: shifting borders in British immigration and disease control’

Chapter 16: Graham Macklin, ‘The Evolving Historiography of the Extreme Right in Britain’


Jennifer Craig-Norton, 'Introduction'

Chapter 17: David Mayall, ‘Gypsy/Romani Studies: a few reflections’

Chapter 18: Milosz Cybowski, ‘"The poorest, the most intractable, and the most permanent" – the invisible nineteenth-century Pole in Britain’

Chapter 19: Rozina Visram, ‘History of Asians in Britain 1600-1950’

Chapter 20: Nick Evans, ‘The development of transmigrant historiography in Britain’


Tony Kushner, 'Introduction'

Chapter 21: Donald MacRaild and Kyle Hughes, 'Underground Catholic networks in Ireland and Britain: the case of Ribbonism before the famine and after'

Chapter 22: James Jordan, ‘"The most varied, colourful, confusing hubub in the world": the East End, television and the documentary imagination, July 1939'

Chapter 23: Ryan Hanley, 'The Equiano Effect: representativeness and early black British migrant testimony'

Chapter 24: Kathy Burrell, 'Framing Polish Migration to the UK, from the Second World War to EU Expansion'

Tony Kushner, 'Afterword'


1. Colin Holmes: publications

2. The Sheffield School - Colin Holmes Postgraduate Supervision

3. Colin Holmes interview with Alan Dein


About the Editors

Jennifer Craig-Norton is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations at the University of Southampton, UK.

Christhard Hoffmann is a Professor of Modern European History at the University of Bergen, Norway.

Tony Kushner is Professor of History in the Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations at the University of Southampton, UK.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Radical History and Politics

The series Routledge Studies in Radical History and Politics has two areas of interest. Firstly, this series aims to publish books which focus on the history of movements of the radical left. ‘Movement of the radical left’ is here interpreted in its broadest sense as encompassing those past movements for radical change which operated in the mainstream political arena as with political parties, and past movements for change which operated more outside the mainstream as with millenarian movements, anarchist groups, utopian socialist communities, and trade unions. Secondly, this series aims to publish books which focus on more contemporary expressions of radical left-wing politics. Recent years have been witness to the emergence of a multitude of new radical movements adept at getting their voices in the public sphere. From those participating in the Arab Spring, the Occupy movement, community unionism, social media forums, independent media outlets, local voluntary organisations campaigning for progressive change, and so on, it seems to be the case that innovative networks of radicalism are being constructed in civil society that operate in different public forms.  

The series very much welcomes titles with a British focus, but is not limited to any particular national context or region. The series will encourage scholars who contribute to this series to draw on perspectives and insights from other disciplines.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain
POLITICAL SCIENCE / History & Theory