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Empire and Architecture

Written by Rena Jackson for Catalyst Vol 5, No 1, Spring 2021 on Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Comprehensive and erudite, Corinne Fowler’s book highlights radical historical and creative responses to the exclusionary politics of rural England.

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Green Unpleasant Land assembles many of its heritage findings while further developing its inquiry into rural England’s colonial histories and examining radical creative responses to them. It offers an impressive and meticulously researched assessment of Black British and British Asian presences within the English countryside. It dismantles “comforting” myths of rural whiteness and challenges misplaced nostalgias for a pastoral world in which the traumas of capitalism and colonialism go unrecognized. As Fowler notes, “England’s green and pleasant land” — here she cites the well-known line from William Blake’s Milton: A Poem, later signaling Blake’s position as a “prophet against empire” — “is not just about agriculture and estates, but about colonialism and a long-standing Black presence.”6 Fowler convincingly argues that the English peripheries are, in fact, dense with imperial and global connections.

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