10 March 2022
Deny and Disavow
Alan Lester’s Deny and Disavow, is a new analysis which challenges the distancing, denial and disavowal of British racism, and racially-charged violence, especially Britain’s response to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. Prof. Lester is a world expert in studies of Empire and colonial history. He is coeditor of a leading book series on imperial history, Studies in Imperialism, and has written nine books over the last 25 years, the latest being Ruling the World: Freedom, Crisis and Liberalism in the Nineteenth-Century British Empire, Cambridge University Press, 2021.
Deny and Disavow boldly confronts apologists for the British Empire (including the Prime Minister and Cabinet Secretaries). Lester contends that this ‘distancing, denial and disavowal policy is part of a deliberate strategy to refute the claims and resist the demands of those who want recognition and reorganisation’. His analysis draws upon thirty years of research and writing and supports BLM’s call for increased awareness of the legacies of structural racism bequeathed by the British Empire.
Leading academics and commentators have welcomed Deny & Disavow:
“This concise, but invaluable, book provides insights into nineteenth-century views of empire which now animate twenty-first century culture wars, from Edward Colston's toppled statue to the Common Sense Group of Conservative MPs and Peers.”
Corrine Fowler, author and Professor of Postcolonial Literature at the University of Leicester.
“Deny & Disavow is an essential guide. Written by a man with three decades of experience of researching imperial history, and combining elements of memoir with travelogue, it is incredibly accessible, totally authoritative, and intensely readable. This country would be infinitely more sane if it were compulsory reading."
Sathnam Sanghera, award-winning author, columnist and feature writer for The Times.
"A hugely informative and highly readable takedown of the self-serving canards spread by Britain’s culture warriors on the question of empire. Lester takes us on a figurative stroll through Britain’s imperial history, past statues and stately homes, explaining why a challenging historical engagement is better than either shame or myths of glory."
Priyamvada Gopal, author of Insurgent Empire: Anticolonial Resistance and British Dissent and Professor of Postcolonial Studies in the Faculty of English at the University of Cambridge.
Deny & Disavow is essential reading for academics, journalists, students, politicians and all those who want to better understand today’s key polemics.