Politics

Rivers of Blood 50 years on
19 April 2018

50 years ago today, on 20th April 1968, Enoch Powell delivered a speech at a Conservative Association meeting in Birmingham criticising the then-Labour government’s proposed Race Relations Bill. With charged rhetoric and a strong anti-immigration stance, it became better known as the ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech.

The resource Popular Culture in Britain and America, 1950-1975 includes a fascinating collection from the Prime Minister’s Office which contains a document collating a full transcript of the speech, press releases and correspondence with Prime Minister Harold Wilson regarding both the public and legislative reaction in the year following its delivery.

Miracles and fairy tales: The “Great Leap Forward” in Chinese newsreels
03 April 2018

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the beginning of China’s Great Leap Forward in 1958. Under the auspices of Chairman Mao, the Chinese Communist Party laid out a programme which aimed to rapidly transform their agrarian economy into an industrial, collectivised, socialist state. Produced by the Central Newsreel and Documentary Film Studio of the People’s Republic of China, newsreel series China Today provides a unique, state-sponsored narrative of bumper crop yields, cultural exploits and factory construction in this period. However, if 1958 was an 'unusual and glorious fairy-tale', 1959 would signal the beginning of a nightmare.

Two Island Nations
07 February 2018

As small islands playing on the international stage, historically Japan and Great Britain have been two nations with many shared qualities, but a turbulent relationship. The files in Foreign Office Files for Japan, 1946-1952: Occupation of Japan, released this week, give a fascinating insight into Anglo-Japanese relations in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, a war that saw their alliance descend into a bitter and bloody conflict.

The Great Game Revisited: Afghanistan In The 1970s
01 December 2017

It was in the early 1970s that Afghanistan entered into the spiral of governmental instability, insurgency, outright civil war and foreign interventions that has plagued it to the present day. Amongst the dozens of Afghan-focused files in our resource 'Foreign Office Files for India, Pakistan and Afghanistan' two which date from the regime of Mohammad Daoud Khan, president from 1973 to 1978, shed light both on the circumstances under which he came to power and, with some considerable prescience, on the potential for instability and Soviet intervention which it was feared might follow the end of his rule.

Represented In The American Hemisphere: The United Kingdom, The Rise Of Pan-Americanism And The Canadian Question
29 November 2017

A special guest blog by Alex Bryne. During the first two decades of the twentieth century, Pan-Americanism became a popular topic of debate within the United States and Latin America. Although Canada was excluded from traditional interpretations of Pan-Americanism, British policy makers grew concerned about the relationship between the two, and the Adam Matthew digital collection ‘Confidential Print: North America, 1824-1961’ provides valuable insights into their reasoning.

Historical Memory and the Race Relations Institute
04 July 2017

Recently the issue of race and public memory has ignited long-simmering passions in American cities and states over how to properly record and represent the past. On May 18, 2017, the mayor of New Orleans, Louisiana, Mitch Landrieu, finally achieved his goal – the removal of the 80-foot statue of General Robert E. Lee from a downtown site; the last of four towering monuments to the Confederacy that had stabbed the skyline for over 130 years.

At all Times Loyal to America: Internment During WWII
24 February 2017

The latest POTUS recently signed the 13776th Executive Order - his twelfth since taking office. Last Sunday, however, marked the 75th anniversary of an earlier order – no. 9066 – which was issued by FDR in 1942. Harmless as this anonymous directive may sound, it gave the US military the authority to designate zones from which ‘any or all people may be excluded’. With this power, the government were able to enact a policy of interning and relocating thousands of its citizens.