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‘We prefer their company’

Sadiah Qureshi: Black British History

14 June 2017
Black and British: A Forgotten History 
by David Olusoga.
Pan Macmillan, 624 pp., £25, November 2016, 978 1 4472 9973 8
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... Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain (1984). When she asked the shop assistant for help she was told ‘Madam, there were no black people in England before 1945.’ In fact, as DavidOlusoga’s remarkable book shows, people racialised as black have been in Britain for more than two thousand years. During the third century, North African Roman soldiers formed part of the ...

Ends of the Earth

Jeremy Harding: ‘Mimesis: African Soldier’

6 December 2018
Mimesis: African Soldier 
by John Akomfrah.
Imperial War Museum, until 30 March 2018
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... for their demeanour: ‘big, lusty coal-black devils … whose advent would not be regarded by the Boches as a pleasing omen of more to come of the same sort’.By the turn of the century, as DavidOlusoga explained in The World’s War: Forgotten Soldiers of Empire (2014), Britain had already sorted its Indian subjects into martial races (mostly hardy mountain types from the Punjab and Nepal) and ...

Not in a Box

Julian Barnes: Mary Cassatt as Herself

26 April 2018
Mary Cassatt, une impressioniste americaine a Paris 
Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris, until 23 July 2018Show More
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... has never faded. It is an indicator of Cassatt’s return to wider fashion that Simon Schama included two of her ‘Japanese’ prints in an episode of the TV show Civilisations, while in a later one DavidOlusoga brought In the Loge to his argument. A print from 1896 In Little Girl in a Blue Armchair (1877-78) a girl of perhaps six or seven half-sits, half-lies, in large armchair. She looks as ...

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