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Caribbean expert for ‘Windrush Generation’ history project at School of Advanced Study

Former associate fellow of the Caribbean Studies Centre at the London Metropolitan University Dr Juanita Cox has been appointed a research fellow on the Nationality, Identity and Belonging: An oral history of the ‘Windrush Generation’ and their relationship to the British State, 1948–2018 project at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies (ICWS). She takes up her post on 11th November.

Dr Juanita Cox, ICWS
Dr Juanita Cox, Institute of Commonwealth Studies (ICWS)

Dr Cox will collate information from Caribbean heritage oral history archives across the UK, and set up a major group interview that will be held in the spring of 2020. She and her team will explore key questions in partnership with existing clusters of expertise.

“We are delighted Dr Cox is joining ICWS to do this important pilot project on the Children of the Windrush Generation and the British State,” said Dr Sue Onslow, deputy director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, a member of the School of Advanced Study, University of London.

“Her experience in oral history, capabilities and publications make her ideally suited to this post, which has been funded by the University of London Convocation Trust. The recent 'Windrush' scandal underlines the importance of capturing migrants' experiences, as well as asking tough questions about institutional memory and the role of bureaucrats and legislators, who produced the ‘hostile environment’.  

“As so much important work gathering the experiences of those who moved to the UK from the Caribbean in the post-war period is being done outside the academy, we are particularly fortunate in her wide-ranging contacts in Caribbean heritage communities both in London, and outside.”

Dr Cox gained her PhD in the Department of African Studies and Anthropology (formerly the Centre of West African Studies), University of Birmingham, in 2013, and is a winner of the prestigious RE Bradbury Memorial Prize. 
Her particular expertise lies in post-colonial literature and particularly in 20th-century Anglophone-Caribbean literature, as well as oral history interviewing.

She is the editor of Creole Chips and Other Writings, a compendium of Edgar Mittelholzer’s uncollected writings, and has also written introductions to novels and chapters to collections, published essays, and given prestigious lectures.

The groundbreaking series, Guyana SPEAKS, was co-founded by Dr Cox in 2017. An education and networking forum, this is now a key monthly event in the calendar of the London-based Guyanese diaspora. She also worked on the Cy Grant Project with the London Metropolitan Archives, which included cataloguing of the collection and organisation of events.

“I am thrilled to be tasked with forming the foundation of what we hope will become a large-scale, multi-year project. While the government supported the establishment of an annual Windrush Day in 2018, the Windrush scandal is just one example of the British state’s contradictory approach to the Windrush generation and their children. The need to explore this relationship is as pressing now as it has always been,” said Dr Cox

Professor Philip Murphy, ICWS director, commented: “Dr Cox’s work highlights the importance of lesser known ‘voices’ in this complex story of Caribbean migration, and wider British history. It directly complements the research by other ICWS scholars, especially on the history of indenture and migration, and the Black British seminar series.

“This is an extremely important initiative for the institute. It builds on the success of our Black British History workshops in connecting people across the country who work on this subject in a variety of different capacities. The Commonwealth is not just ‘out there’: it is part of the fabric of British society, and it includes many groups of people whose voices have not been heard in histories of this country.”