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    Ground view of the National Gallery's glass pyramids looking towards the East Building

    Research Reports

    Munyang Tengen
    Center 43

    Munyang Tengen

    Home Away from Home: Building Community in the Diaspora

    Vanley Burke, Boy with Flag, 1970, printed 2022, gelatin silver print, Alfred H. Moses and Fern M. Schad Fund, 2023.1.1

    The 1970s were a turning point for Britain. A nation that once ruled half of the world through colonial conquest lost much of its sovereignty, which in turn caused economic downfall. As part of a process of rebuilding the nation, people from former colonies were invited to move to the UK, an offer that revealed itself to be laden with broken promises. In reality, these new immigrants were met with violence as British citizens struggled to adjust to their new national identity.

    For my tour, I focused on three photographs in the exhibition This Is Britain: Photographs from the 1970s and 1980s. Using Colin Jones’s The Black House, London (1973–1976) and Vanley Burke’s Young Men on See-Saw, Handsworth Park, Birmingham (1984, printed 2021) and Boy with The Flag (1970, printed 2022), I demonstrated how people held onto their Caribbean culture after moving to Britain to form a diasporic identity. Jones’s photograph displays family photos and maps in a domestic context to show a sense of cultural heritage. Burke’s photographs display different uses of body language and the occupation of outdoor space to show how a new generation of British Caribbean youth created a sense of belonging, at once, to two cultures.

    Film major and African Studies minor, Howard University
    Howard University Undergraduate Intern, 2022–2024