In the shadow of Enoch Powell

Race, locality and resistance

By Shirin Hirsch

In the shadow of Enoch Powell
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Book Information

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-2740-2
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £14.99 (incl. VAT)
  • Published Date: November 2018
  • BIC Category: Modern History, HISTORY / Social History, SOCIAL SCIENCE / General, Society & social sciences / Migration, immigration & emigration, Human Geography, Society & social sciences / Sociology, Humanities / Social & cultural history
  • Series: Racism, Resistance and Social Change


Fifty years ago Enoch Powell made national headlines with his 'Rivers of Blood' speech, warning of an immigrant invasion in the once respectable streets of Wolverhampton. This local fixation brought the Black Country town into the national spotlight, yet Powell's unstable relationship with Wolverhampton has since been overlooked. Drawing from interviews and archival material, this book offers a rich local history through which to investigate the speech, bringing to life the racialised dynamics of space during a critical moment in British history. What was going on beneath the surface in Wolverhampton and how did Powell's constituents respond to this dramatic moment? The research traces the ways in which Powell's words reinvented the town and uncovers highly contested local responses. While Powell left Wolverhampton in 1974, the book returns to the city to explore the collective memories of the speech which continue to reverberate. In a contemporary period of new crisis and national divisions, revisiting the shadow of Powell allows us to reflect on racism and resistance from 1968 to today.


Shirin Hirsch is based at the People's History Museum and is a Lecturer in History at Manchester Metropolitan University. When writing the book she was a researcher at the University of Wolverhampton.


1 'The Commonwealth is much too common for me': another 1968
2 The world in Wolverhampton
3 Reverberations from 'Rivers of Blood'
4 Resistance in the schools and on the buses
5 'A monstrous reputation': remembering Enoch Powell

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