Race, religion and identity in Sixties Britain: Ramsey and other faiths

[UPDATED 5 April 2014:  this paper is now accepted for publication – see a summary]

I’m very pleased to say that my paper proposal for this year’s summer conference of the Ecclesiastical Historical Society in July has been accepted; and in my home town of Chichester to boot. It draws on material in several sections of the bigger book on Michael Ramsey, but has room to grow into a larger paper on its own. Here’s the abstract.

Race, religion and national identity in Sixties Britain: Michael Ramsey, archbishop of Canterbury, and his encounter with other faiths

Michael Ramsey, archbishop of Canterbury between 1961 and 1974, is rightly known as a committed Christian ecumenist. Less well-known is his engagement with other faiths, both in the UK and abroad. The archbishop was not only primate of the Anglican church in England, but also of the global Anglican Communion; churches which found themselves in daily engagement with other faiths, and which looked to Lambeth Palace for guidance. At home, the period since the late 1940s had seen unprecedented immigration to the UK from the young nations of the Commonwealth; an immigration which provoked vigorous debate amongst the political class over the residual obligations of the UK towards its former colonies. It also provoked sharp division over the consequences of immigration for British national identity at large, and of the cohesion of local communities in particular; debates that were in large part about race (explicitly or implicitly) but in which there was a strong religious component. This paper examines Ramsey’s various interventions: as confidant of the leaders of the global Anglican church, and as visitor to those churches; in the delicate diplomacy of inter-faith relations at the national level in the UK; and as a frequent public advocate of the interests of immigrants from the Commonwealth.


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