Changes in Attitudes to Immigrants in Britain, 1841-1921: From Foreigner to Alien

Braber, B. (2020) Changes in Attitudes to Immigrants in Britain, 1841-1921: From Foreigner to Alien. Series: Anthem studies in British history. Anthem Press: London ; New York. ISBN 9781785276347

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This book reviews changes in attitudes to immigrants in Britain and the language that was used to put these feelings into words between 1841 and 1921. Using a historical and linguistic method for an analysis of so far for this purpose relatively unused primary sources, this book offers novel findings. It has found that changes in the meaning and use of the word ‘alien’ in Britain coincided during the period between 1841 and 1921 with the expression of changing attitudes to immigrants in this country and the modification of the British variant of the English language. When people in Britain in these years used the term ‘an alien’, they meant, most likely, a foreigner, stranger, refugee or immigrant. In 1841 an alien denoted a foreigner or a stranger, notably a person residing or working in a country who did not have the nationality or citizenship of that country. However, by 1921 an alien mainly signified an immigrant in Britain – a term, which as this book shows, had in the course of the years since 1841 acquired very negative connotations. This book concludes that by 1921, in contemporary minds the word alien aroused utter hostility. Alien had first become a byname for immigrants, and then it was turned into a term of abuse, a badge of dishonour and a mark of danger – a comprehensively negative label that could be attached at will or unconsciously at any time to any group of immigrants.

Item Type:Books
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Braber, Dr Ben
Authors: Braber, B.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities
Publisher:Anthem Press

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