Britain's European Experiment: A Journey Through The Magnum Archives

Thatcher launching manifesto
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher launches her Conservative manifesto in a dockyard on the Isle of Wight in May 1983. Peter Marlow/Magnum Photos

For nearly 70 years, photographers from Magnum Photos—one of the most respected agencies in the world—have chronicled the leaders, places and people at the center of the European project. In the aftermath of World War II, European integration was seen as an antidote to the centuries of conflict that had devastated the continent. In 1952, Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Luxembourg joined together to create the European Coal and Steel Community in 1952, which later became the European Economic Community, and in 1993, the European Union.

Britain has had a complex relationship with the union ever since it joined in 1973. Now, just days away from Britain's June 23 referendum, polls suggest a majority of Britons could vote to leave the 28-state bloc. Those who support leaving the union—a so-called "Brexit"—say Britain would have stronger control over its borders and would be free of strict EU regulation; their opponents say Brexit would have a disastrous impact on the economy.

At this historic crossroads, Newsweek has worked with Magnum to explore the collective's archives and reflect on Britain's relationship with Europe through the events the agency has covered. In the June 24 issue of the magazine, Newsweek is publishing Britain's European Experiment—selecting works by eminent Magnum photographers David Seymour, Philip Jones Griffiths, Ian Berry, Martin Parr, Chris Steele-Perkins, Peter Marlow, Mark Power, Alex Majoli, and Jérôme Sessini. On its own site, Magnum has created a visual A to Z of some of the key debate topics.

"Whether Britain votes to stay in the EU or not is a question that has captivated the minds not just of the British public but also of people around the world," says Francesca Sears, content director of Magnum Photos London.

In the video above, Newsweek has selected five key moments to tell the story of Britain's European experiment—one which may well come to an end on June 23.