The Windrush and the children left behind: in/visible narratives of migration, recognition and belonging

Fri 06 May 2022, 13.45-14.05

Dr Christiana Abraham, Concordia University

This paper engages with a rarely discussed aspect of the Wind-Rush migration phenomenon: the children left behind. 

Hundreds, even thousands of children were left behind in the Caribbean when many young West Indian migrants climbed aboard the ships to seek new opportunities in England during the three to four decades of the Wind-Rush migration.  These children were left in the care of relatives or guardians, and while some were later sent for, a large number never reunited with their parents in the UK. This ‘generation left behind’ associated their parents in England with remittances and gifts, but they never bonded with their growing and extended families in the UK.  

Dr Christiana Abraham © Concordia University, photo by Lisa Graves

Conference recording not available.

While some of these children were well cared for by grandparents, many suffered abuse, trauma, alienation, or delinquency.  The recent Wind-Rush scandal has served as an important trigger in understanding the invisible, violent aspect of this history.

What are the experiences of these children and what does the Wind-Rush legacy represent to them?  Drawing from documentation, personal reflection, and memory, this paper draws attention to the complex and personal nature of this migration.  It advocates for a broadened approach to the meaning of the Wind-Rush legacy ​across geographical borders that incorporates the voices of these children in the rethinking of ‘belonging’ to this history. 

This reconsideration of the ‘post Windrush generation’ allows a de-territorialized conception of identity and resistance. In so doing, it locates discourses of the Wind-Rush within a broader conceptualization of empire, colonialism’s legacy and resistance.

About the speaker

Christiana Abraham is a Scholar in-Residence, Critical Race Pedagogies, at Concordia University, Montreal, Canada. She holds a Ph.D in Communication Studies from McGill University.

Her teaching and research specialities are in visual representations and culture; de/post-coloniality and Gender; race, ethnicity and media and transnational and global-South media practices.

A former lecturer at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus, her academic interventions are located at the intersections of critical race pedagogies, visual culture, media, gender, and post/de-colonialization. Her work revolves around the radical re-thinking of archives, community, and orality as forms of grounded grass-roots activism that critically reclaims and re-narrates established esthetics, canons, and cultural knowledges. A Scholar, media practitioner, and independent curator, her scholarship is interested in the destabilization and re-visualization of visuality in anti-racist and de-colonial pedagogies. 

She is the curator of “Protests and Pedagogy: Representations, Memories, and Meanings” an archival exhibition that commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the Sir George Williams Student protest.   Prior to this, she curated “From the Archives to the Everyday: Caribbean Visualities and Meanings” a collection of vintage family photographs of Caribbean life.


Abraham, C. (2021) Toppled Monuments and Black Lives Matter: Race, Gender, and Decolonization in the Public Space. An Interview with Charmaine A. Nelson. Atlantis: Critical Studies in Gender, Culture and Social Justice.