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School of History

'Heathrow and the Remaking of Global Britain' - James Vernon

31 October 2019

Time: 6:30 - 8:00pm
Venue: ArtsTwo LT

There may be no other place in Britain that signifies the global so much as Heathrow airport. Since the 1960s Heathrow has been Britain’s portal to the world, the place where the world arrived in Britain and from which increasing numbers of Britons travelled the world. Its phenomenal growth not only made the airport a world unto itself – even with its own reality TV shows – but occasioned a series of debates among Britons about Britain’s political economy and its place in the world after empire. Those debates, and the responses to them at Heathrow, were shaped by the world beyond Britain: by decolonization, bilateral agreements, European regional policies, and international regulations, to say nothing of the global traffic of travellers, cargo, capital, labour, technologies and fuel. If Heathrow’s history is inescapably one that illustrates the worlding of Britain, it is also a history that local residents and those that worked at Heathrow helped to write. It is impossible to separate the local and social fabric of Heathrow from Britain’s post-imperial, European, and global histories. This lecture will show how these entangled histories made Heathrow a laboratory for our neoliberal present.

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