Bruce Woodcock


The recent commemorations of the arrival of 55 Windrush fifty years ago in 1948 have been a vivid reminder of the contradictions involved in colonial expectations of the imperial centre. In the aftermath of colonialism, the post-colonial eyes which viewed 'the streets of London' translated those streets into something which, when written, might make readers change their minds about what was really there. This response was both an expose of hidden or suppressed truths beneath the gloss of civilization and a revelation of a potential future which might transform those streets, translating them and their peoples into a different cultural language. It is this dialectic which I want to trace briefly through a number of Caribbean examples. Translated and transported under the encouragement of a British government desperate for labour, the Caribbean emigrants became transformed into immigrants, a paradoxical release and re-capture which revealed potential freedoms or possibilities, at the same time as closing them down. Nowhere was this more sharply felt than in London.



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