Professor Robbie Shilliam - Race and the Undeserving Poor: From Abolition to Brexit

Join us for a free public lecture hosted by the School of Humanities at the Faculty of Arts, in association with The Royal Institute of Philosophy.

Lecture abstract:

This talk aims to provide a historical context to contemporary debates over the “white working class” by accounting for the development of this constituency through a postcolonial genealogy of British empire. The objective is to account for the racialization of the distinction between deserving and underserving poor, a distinction through which the “white working class” materialises as a constituency, and to chart the consistent shifting of these racialized coordinates across imperial time and space. The aim is to demonstrate that the “white working class” is neither an indigenous constituency, nor its own progenitor, but rather a product of elite struggles to consolidate and defend British imperial order, which shaped the postcolonial compact of British society. It follows, then, that contemporary retrievals of the white working class as “deserving” of social security follow a deeply entrenched inability to consider social justice outside of the framework of race and empire. As Britain prepares for the first time to carve out via Brexit a national economy from an imperial, commonwealth and European hinterland, this talk wishes to clarify the stakes at play.


About the speaker:

Robbie Shilliam is Professor of International Relations at Queen Mary University of London. He is author of Race and the Undeserving Poor: From Abolition to Brexit (Agenda, 2018), The Black Pacific: Anticolonial Struggles and Oceanic Connections (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015), and co-editor of the Routledge Handbook of Postcolonial Politics (2018).

When: Tuesday 20th March 2018, 5:30 – 7:30pm. Tea and Coffee from 5pm.
Where: MU306, Lord Swraj Paul, City Campus, University of Wolverhampton.