Background to the project

Published by Peter Aspinall on 24 February 2012

Anglo-Chinese family, Liverpool, 1930s.

This work-in-progress Timeline draws on material from a British Academy project conducted by Dr Chamion Caballero and Dr Peter Aspinall (University of Kent) which explored the presence of mixed race people, couples and families in the early 20th century, particularly in the period 1920-1950, a time when racial mixing and mixedness tended to be viewed very negatively by British authorities.

The project sourced a range of archival material from national and local archives. It included official documents, autobiographical recordings and photo and film material to understand how social perceptions of racial mixing and mixedness emerged and the effect they had on the lives of mixed race people, couples and families themselves, as well as their place in shaping contemporary ideas and experiences.

The project’s findings indicated that while mixed race people, couples and families certainly experienced prejudice and hostility in this ‘era of moral condemnation’, they were not inherently ‘tragic’, ‘marginal’ or ‘doomed’, but simply another part of the longstanding diversity and difference that is a feature of British life.

The findings from the research formed the foundation of the three part BBC2 series ‘Mixed Britannia’ presented by George Alagiah and was also the subject of an article in The Guardian. For more information on the research, please see the Mix-d: Timeline Team’s Blog or LSBU’s web page.