French and British Anti-Racists Since the 1960s: A rendez-vous manqué?

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While immigration situations in France and Britain are often contrasted to each other, they are not mutually closed systems. This article asks to what extent anti-racist movements in the two countries interacted with each other between the 1960s and 1990s. Although one could be forgiven for thinking that the two operate in parallel and mutually incomprehensible universes, it suggests that there has been more exchange than meets the eye, by examining case studies ranging from the Mouvement Contre le Racisme et Pour l'Amitié entre les Peuples to the magazine Race Today, and the trajectories of individuals from Mogniss Abdallah to John La Rose. Though less immediately apparent than those from across the Atlantic, influences occasionally, at times surreptitiously, crept across the Channel. Nevertheless it concludes that this specifically Anglo-French form of transnationalism became more developed after, rather than during, what is classically considered the heyday of transnational protest in the 1960s and 1970s. It also argues that despite the much-vaunted French resistance to the 'Anglo-Saxons', influences in anti-racism in fact flowed more readily southwards than northwards across the Channel. From 'Rock Against Police' to the International Book Fair of Radical Black and Third World Books, there seems to have been an increasing willingness among some elements in anti-racism in France to allow a seepage of British ideas. By contrast, attempts to transplant French ideas, such as SOS Racisme, in the UK appear contrived, and only succeeded when the French influence was not made explicit.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)606-631
JournalJournal of Contemporary History
Issue number3
Early online date25 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2015


  • Anglo-French relations
  • anti-racism
  • immigration


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