New project: Monitoring Cypriots in 1930s London

I am very pleased announce that my colleague, Dr Andrekos Varnava and I, have just been awarded a Faculty Research Grant by Flinders University to undertake a new research project, titled ‘Monitoring a ‘suspect community’ in the UK: The colonialist origins of the national/border security nexus and interwar London’s Cypriot community’. Here is the outline of the project:

The main aim of this project is to examine why and how the British authorities during the inter-war years monitored the Cypriot community in London and what impact this had on broader British immigration policy. It is our hypothesis that the Cypriot community in the UK became a focus point for the British security services, the Metropolitan Police and the Colonial Office because they were deemed to be ‘deviant’ in two ways: a) involved in criminal activities, such as gambling, robbery, prostitution, and others forms of organised crime; b) involved in subversive political activity, primarily links with the Communist Party of Great Britain and the Community Party of Cyprus. Both these ‘deviant’ characteristics not only singled-out the Cypriots for surveillance, but brought into question the migration of other Cypriots to Britain. The project will undertake an examination of National Archive documents relating to the Colonial Office, the Security Services, the Home Office and the Metropolitan Police to explore how the Cypriot community in London was characterised as ‘deviant’ and transformed into a ‘suspect community’ that needed to be closely monitored and regulated.

By looking at the ways in which the British authorities restricted and monitored the movement of Cypriots to the UK and also within the country, we seek to propose an answer to why Cypriots were singled out for immigration control 30-40 years before other British colonial subjects. We will argue that the focus upon the Cypriot community created what criminologists and security studies scholars have described as a ‘suspect community’, which creates the conditions for discriminatory practices to be inflicted upon the community, yet normalised by the authorities and wider society. 

This combines my research into the British left and UK immigration controls with Andrekos’ research on the colonial administration of Cyprus within the British Empire. The research will be predominantly based on files found at the National Archives, but will also incorporate material from the Labour History Archive and Study Centre in Manchester, the Working Class Movement Library in Salford and the TUC Archive at London Metropolitan University.

This is a very exciting new project, combining several of my research interests, but also exploring an aspect of British immigration and colonial history that I have not looked at before. Andrekos is a dedicated and prolific researcher and it will be great to work on this project with him. Andrekos will be doing the majority of the archival research in August, but I hope to get to the LHASC and WCML while I am over in June.

As usual, anyone with intersecting research interests are advised to get in touch with us!

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