Ian Sanjay PatelSep 18, 2023
We're Here Because You Were There
Immigration and the End of Empire
Verso Books 2021
What are the origins of the hostile environment against immigrants in the UK? In We’re Here Because You Were There: Immigration and the End of Empire (Verso, 2021), Patel retells Britain's recent history in an often shocking account of state racism that still resonates today.
In a series of post-war immigration laws from 1948 to 1971, arrivals from the Caribbean, Asia and Africa to Britain went from being citizens to being renamed immigrants. In the late 1960s, British officials drew upon an imperial vision of the world to contain what it saw as a vast immigration “crisis” involving British citizens, passing legislation to block their entry. As a result, British citizenship itself was redefined along racial lines, fatally compromising the Commonwealth and exposing the limits of Britain’s influence in world politics. Combining voices of so-called immigrants trying to make a home in Britain and the politicians, diplomats and commentators who were rethinking the nation, Ian Sanjay Patel excavates the reasons why Britain failed to create a post-imperial national identity.
Ian Sanjay Patel is Assistant Professor in Sociology and Social Research at Birkbeck College, University of London. His work explores connections between human rights, intellectual history, global history, and political thought. His first book, We're Here Because You Were There: Immigration and the End of Empire, was shortlisted for the PEN International Hessell-Tiltman Prize and chosen as a BBC History Magazine Book of the Year. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.
Lamis Abdelaaty is an associate professor of political science at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. She is the author of Discrimination and Delegation: Explaining State Responses to Refugees (Oxford University Press, 2021). Email her comments at email@example.com.