What’s in a word? Modelling British History for a ‘Multi-racial’ Society

Claire Sutherland*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In March 2022 the United Kingdom (UK) government published Inclusive Britain: the government’s response to the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities. This accepts the ‘bad apple’ understanding of racism but is incurious as to the historical context and existing power relations shaping racist attitudes, thereby creating a tension with its stated aim of developing a model history curriculum. This article will address two, key issues resulting from this tension: Firstly, it unpicks Inclusive Britain’s handling of race and, secondly, adopts a decolonial standpoint to critique its recommendation on how to make the school history curriculum more inclusive. Inclusive Britain’s vision of the UK as ‘multi-racial’ serves to re-establish racial categories as an unquestioned and unproblematic series of fixed, reified identities, without acknowledging the hierarchies and uneven power relations inherent in racial terminology. Through close textual analysis of Inclusive Britain’s approach to inclusivity and a recommendation designed to promote a more inclusive history curriculum in schools, this article argues that the government’s stated aim of fostering belonging is framed in a racialised way not conducive to achieving that goal. The article proposes an alternative framing and some indicative curriculum content on the history of race, which could serve as a different basis for creating a more inclusive Britain. This comes with the crucial caveat that the concept of inclusivity is always premised on adding to a pre-existing community, as opposed to adopting a transformative, decolonial approach.
Original languageEnglish
JournalRace Ethnicity and Education
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 16 Dec 2022


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