'Whatever community is, this is not it': Notting Hill and the Reconstruction of 'Race' in Britain after 1958

Camilla Schofield, Ben Jones

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The impact of the 1958 Notting Hill riots tends to figure in histories of the political right, as a galvanizing force for anti-immigrant sentiment - or as radical catalyst in the transnational history of the Black Atlantic. Meanwhile, the generation of black and white social workers and activists who flocked to Notting Hill after the riots have largely been left out of the history of the British left. This article treats Notting Hill after 1958 as an important locale of new progressive thinking and action. It seeks to consider the political work that the idea of community did in Notting Hill, allowing us consider how the politics of antiracism relates in complex ways to the reformulation of progressive politics in postwar Britain. It reveals how black activists came to reappropriate the language of community to critique the ameliorative, welfarist approach to antiracism. It also unearths the forgotten eclectic beginnings of Britain's New Left. By excavating the history of community work and New Left activism from below, this article traces the ways in which a motley group of Methodist ministers, Christian Workers, students, social workers, and community leaders tested the limits of the liberal paternalism and universalism of the postwar social democratic state.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-173
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of British Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019


  • race
  • Community development
  • New left
  • welfare
  • urban governance

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