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Front cover of Socialist History No 45

ISBN: 978 1 85489 182 2
ISSN: 0969-4331

Class, Immigration and Identity

This special edition of Socialist History discusses diasporic communal and radical political interactions in the East End of London in the late-Victorian and Edwardian periods, focusing on the Jewish and Irish Catholic communities that had settled in the area.

East London during this period was a canvas onto which the hopes and fears, fantasies and paranoia of the wider society were projected, and the cosmopolitan, multi-ethnic and multi-religious nature of the East End informed both the fascination and dread with which the area was viewed by outsiders. Immigrant groups settling in the East End brought their own traditions of both radical left-wing activism and conservative religious observance to these neighbourhoods.

Viv Lachs discusses the poetry of Morris Winchevsky and his efforts to radicalise the Jewish working class through verse. Daniel Renshaw compares the agendas of the Jewish and Catholic communal hierarchies in the period. Giulia Ni Dhulchaointigh focuses on Irish identity in the East End, and its expression in religious procession. Ben Gidley reassesses the historiography of Jewish socialism, with particular attention being paid to the anti-war and free-love movements. Finally, Bronwen Walter extends the focus of the edition to consider multi-generational Irish identities from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day.

The articles are primarily concerned with interactions, within working-class diasporic groups, between the immigrant proletariat and the socialist movement, between the rich and the poor within communities, and immigrant relationships with both other migrant groups and the wider society. The contributors, coming from a range of academic and methodological backgrounds, utilise not only social, political and cultural historical investigation, but also music, poetry and theatre to gain a greater insight into the lives and the politics of migrants and their descendants.

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