As you’ve been reading and hearing about this week, World War II and the two decades that followed it not only saw colonies across the British Empire transition to independence but also transformed society and culture in Britain. The young people involved in social movements and youth culture during the 1960s and 1970s–the fans of rock ‘n’ roll bands like the Beatles–were products of the postwar social democratic era and a more robust welfare state. During the decades after WWII, Britain, especially Britain’s major cities, also became more racially diverse due to Commonwealth migration. I think that the anecdote with which Kent begins Chapter 14 provides a fascinating example that links these two developments. At the same time, the locale–Liverpool–invites us to put postwar migration within the larger context of a longer history of Black and Asian migration (forced and free) related to the history of the British Empire. It should remind us that the history of Black and Asian Britain goes back much farther in time–a fact that is too often forgotten.
I’m interested in what you think about this little story that begins Chapter 14. Did it surprise you? How can we use it to think about the changes of the postwar era in Britain?