Bombers and Bombing in Britain's postcolonial melancholia

Prof. Paul Gilroy

This presentation was a part of Session four: Shock, Rubble, Clearance, From 10:00 am until 1:00 pm on Saturday 12th November, 2011, Lower Ground 02, New Academic Building, Goldsmiths


As our cultural and social life is militarised so that it corresponds to the exigencies of newer wars, the Blitz and the Battle of Britain have emerged as key sites of national memory.  In remembering being bombed and in defending ourselves from Nazi bombing, Britons assemble a habitable national identity that encompasses the precious, comfortable role of virtuous victim and ultimate victor.

I will argue that liberation from the pathologies of melancholia will follow a reckoning with Briton's history of colonial warfare to which aerial bombardment must be central.