A NEW study will examine how the UK’s “open door” immigration policy resulted in the 2018 Windrush Scandal.
Researchers at the University of London’s School of Advanced Study (SAS) have received funding to undertake the project. The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) will also provide a contributing focus on the history of changes to immigration policy which led to the scandal.
SAS academic and lead researcher, Dr Juanita Cox, said: “A six-month scoping project on the Windrush Generation and their relationship to the British State (1948-2018) funded by the University of London’s Convocation Trust pointed to a longer history behind the hostile environment of detention, deportation and denial of citizenship. It highlighted too, a broader interplay between community activism and Caribbean diplomacy.
“The AHRC award provides us with a unique opportunity to study these strands of political, diplomatic, local and administrative history and to develop a unique digital research resource, which preserves the voices of the Windrush Generation.”
In 1945, the British government called on people from the Caribbean and elsewhere in the Commonwealth to come to the UK to help rebuild a post-war society.
They had the right to enter and remain in Britain by virtue of being Citizens of the UK and Colonies (CUKC) or Commonwealth Citizens.
However, legislation around immigration and citizenship began to become restrictive from 1962 and cases of people unable to document their status to the satisfaction of authorities began to arise.
Many faced challenges to their right to remain in the UK.
Whitehall was later accused of enforcing a “hostile environment” towards suspected illegal immigrants, many of whom were of Caribbean descent and were threatened with or subjected to detention or deportation.
Along with the SAS, the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton and Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) the new research project aims to explore this history from a “fully trans-national perspective.”
With unique digital research of extended interviews and digitised government documents from the British and Caribbean archives, the project is expected to be the first of its kind.
It aims to produce up to 60 oral history accounts which will be available electronically, and a searchable database of existing oral history resources on the “Windrush generation.”
The materials produced by the project will explore the links between the apparently distinct spheres of international diplomacy and community activism. It will examine how the work of Caribbean diplomats supported the efforts of the victims of the Windrush Scandal and their supporters in the UK.
The ground-breaking research will be led by Dr Juanita Cox, the convenor of ‘Guyana speaks’ and a leading specialist on Caribbean diasporas in the UK, and Dr William Tantum, a former director of the SAS Centre for Integrated Caribbean Research.
They will be supported by the project’s Principal Investigator, Professor Philip Murphy (SAS), and the Co-investigator, Dr Rob Waters (QMUL), author of the award-winning 2019 monograph Thinking Black: Britain, 1964-1985.