University of Leicester eBulletin

The Outsiders

September 2002
No 208

Historical Analysis Reveals Xenophobia At Parish Level

With race, asylum and immigration issues hitting the headlines almost on a daily basis, a University of Leicester professor is set to demonstrate how xenophobia has been a fact of life for centuries.

Professor Keith Snell, of the Centre for English Local History, will deliver his inaugural professorial lecture, The Culture of Local Xenophobia, on Tuesday 15 October. The lecture, to be held in the Ken Edwards Building, University of Leicester, at 5.30pm, is free and open to the public. Free parking is available on site.

Professor Snell's lecture tackles the local history of xenophobia in England and Wales in the period between about 1700 and 1938.

He said: "Xenophobia means a fear or dislike of things foreign or strange. I will describe the historical record of localised and often antagonistic sentiments towards so-called `foreigners' who came from other parishes.

"These very local sentiments provide an important background to help us understand later suspicious attitudes to people felt to be 'outsiders'."

Professor Snell argues that a culture of local xenophobia was once so widespread that it rendered questionable arguments for the early, post-1790, `making of the English working class', as expressed most famously by the historian E P Thompson.

"Many features of this xenophobic attitude will be discussed in the lecture, which will also cover the legal and related frameworks that contributed to it.

"I will outline some of the factors that led such local attitudes gradually to be eclipsed during the nineteenth century by a wider, more national, sense of class consciousness and allegiance.

"The subject should be of interest to those interested in history, to local historians, and to anyone concerned with modern race relations, cultural intolerance, and the ways in which xenophobia has been expressed in the history of our society."

NOTE TO NEWSDESK: For more information, please contact Keith Snell on 0116 252 2763, or 0116 252 2762 for Audrey Larrive, Secretary for the Centre for English Local History.

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Last updated: September 2002
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