Miss Jessica White

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Research interests

Thesis title: Race, motherhood, and multiculturalism: the making of female identities in the British inner city, 1970-2000

I am an historian of Modern Britain with a broad interest in gender, race, class and sexuality. 

My thesis, entitled ‘Race, motherhood, and multiculturalism: the making of female identities in the British inner city, 1970-2000’, is a social and cultural history of womanhood in inner-city Britain in the late twentieth century. It examines how post-war migration from the Commonwealth and urban regeneration in Britain’s inner-cities shaped the social and cultural construction of womanhood from the period 1970-1999.

To date there has been no historical study that has explored this combined experience of migration and urban regeneration on both white and Black women’s lives. My thesis, which builds on a variety of source m­­aterial including oral history testimony, media coverage, and visual sources, charts the history of inner-city Britain from the perspectives of women of colour, as well as white women. It thereby offers an original contribution to urban histories of the late twentieth century, which have thus far overlooked how race and gender intersected to shape lived experiences of inner-city Britain.

In examining how colonial migration intersected with urban regeneration to transform women’s lives, this thesis moves beyond offering an urban history of womanhood that simply deals with the loss of tradition and community in industrial neighbourhoods. Instead, it demonstrates that inner-city women’s identities were constructed around their ethnic backgrounds, in turn shedding light on the ways in which ‘race’ was lived in post-war Britain through activism and forming coalitions of interest rooted in culture, arts, and mutual support networks, alongside the experience of migration and racism. Moreover, approaching ‘race’ as a historical agent that framed relations between white and Black inner-city women, as well as forging a nexus between representations of inner-city women, the media, and the state, this thesis uncovers the structural power of ethnic difference in shaping personal and political history in post-war Britain.


I am currently the Book Reviews Editor for the European Review of History.

I am the recipient of the University of Manchester’s School of Arts, Languages and Cultures Studentship.

Follow me at @jes_sca | Email me : jessica.white@manchester.ac.uk


Research and projects

No current projects are available for public display