Brixton: A Complex History Of The Past And Present

1446 words - 6 pages

Space has a role in defining place in a variety of ways and the people or entities who inhabit that space. Within these spaces we can see changes by human beings and the natural world, for good or bad intentions which depends on perspective. Place can be shaped by a variety of factors: historic events, economic implications, physical changes to the landscape and cultural influences. Brixton is one of the most complex places within the Greater London area that has changed significantly over a period of a century. With a long standing history of changes by internal and external forces, Brixton looks very different from what longstanding denizens remember. As it has gone through economic, ...view middle of the document...

In response to the growing despair, the council began filling in the gaps with low income housing and tried to implement slum clearances which lead a demographic shift in the proximity (http://www.urban75.org/brixton/history/history.html). Through images provide by the course, it is evident how the area began to change by class from 1888 to 1950's onwards; Electric Avenue went from a rich upper-middle class to a lower class slum. Although that changes with the arrival of the West Indian immigrants and other ethnicities. It is evident that Brixton's early history is a history that is defined by progressive change alongside material deprivation yet, the war changed who lives there and the physical landscape.
What was more interesting was the changes in ethnicity over a century and how that influenced the area to change. Brixton had been a place of significant changes where a community has varied ethnically; from 1890 to the present, we can see a shift from different classes and later on during the 1940's, a rise in immigration from the Caribbean because of the economy after the war. During the second World War, the bombing of London by the Nazis left the Brixton area as an urban slum that was decaying economically. The West Indian immigrants from Jamaica arrived on the "Empire Windrush" after the ship docked in 1948, an advert was released to the public for cheap rates on travelling to the United Kingdom for work (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/oct/24/london-race). At this time, those who were part of the British Empire could freely move to and from another colony; although there were complications due to racism. These immigrants became the catalyst for the rejuvenation and revival of Brixton with their exoticness and commerce.
However, in 1981 Brixton suffered a chaotic and a violent push to quell crime. over the years, like other immigrant communities, Brixton's immigrant population faced unemployment and high levels of crime. Before the riots, activist organized a march to express their dismay with the government's handling of their situation; local press reported the march respectfully but the national press displayed the march with racial stereotyping and implored that the activist were assaulting police officers(Back, Les (2007). Written in Stone: Black British Writing and Goldsmiths College). Margret Thatcher's administration gave officers stop and search powers; plainclothes police officers were dispatched into Brixton, and in five days almost 1,000 people were stopped and searched (Battle for Brixton). The local community was not consulted about the operation and tensions between the black community and the police on the streets of Brixton reached breaking point. Local residents complained about young, inexperienced police officers being sent on the streets, provoking confrontation with random people(Battle for Brixton). Clearly, the Thatcher administration and the police had no idea on how to ease the...

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