This session examines how Britain’s colonial and postcolonial history has shaped its understanding of citizenship. Citizenship can be understood as membership of a political community. As such, it cannot be separated from wider political projects of nation and empire. The session shows how colonial and postcolonial immigration shaped the development of what we now call British citizenship, and how national citizenship in Britain is inseparable from postcolonial conceptions of identity and belonging. The session explores how citizenship was introduced into UK law and traces its evolution in response to postcolonial immigration. It concludes with some reflections on contemporary legacies, including the Windrush Scandal.
This lecture is part of the Connected Sociologies module on British Citizenship, Race and Rights:
Questions for discussion:
1. What does the development of citizenship tell us about the British state and its postcolonial identity?
2. What role has racism played in shaping Britain’s citizenship and immigration regime?
3. In what ways do the legacies of postcolonial citizenship affect the lives of ethnic minority Britons today?