Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye (London: Picador, 1990). First published in Great Britain by Chatto & Windus Ltd, 1979.
Toni Morrison (1931-2019) was in my opinion, and that of many others across the world, one of the greatest writers in the English language. This post presents a timeline of this extraordinary woman’s life.
This new edition to the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Centre Library is a collection of powerful essays that provide an intersectional analysis of faith, feminism, sexuality and race from the perspectives of 17 Muslim women.
The opening page to this book is a dedication to himself ‘there was a time when I thought I wouldn’t live to see thirty, I doubled that and now I’m sixty, well done Rastaman, you’re a survivor. A black survivor.’ It is only when you read his journey you realise he truly is.
Crisis Music: The cultural politics of Rock Against Racismby Ian Goodyer. Manchester University Press: 2009
(Local Classification: AR.8.00/GOO)
November 1976. Rock Against Racism (RAR) holds its first gig in the Princess Alice pub in the East End of London. Young people are rallying against the far-right National Front.
Two years later, April 1978. Victoria Park in the East End of London. A huge crowd gathers for a day-long outdoor concert headlined by Tom Robinson and The Clash. It was this concert, organised by Rock Against Racism, that helped to radicalise a generation and gave punk a reason to be something more than rebellious nihilism.
It is with great sadness that we heard of Ian Macdonald’s passing in November 2019. The ‘Father of Immigration Law’ was an anti-racist defence lawyer who worked his whole life to promote justice and equality in the UK.
Ian first published the textbook Immigration Law & Practice in 1983. Now in its ninth edition, it remains the leading work on this subject. Many of the anti-immigration campaigns he supported are represented in our archive, including that of Cynthia Gordon, Nasira Begum, Jaswinder Kaur, and Nasreen Akhtar.
For those unfamiliar with Ian Macdonald’s life and work, the causes he championed and the ideas he promoted are now mainstream in society. For example, Ian’s work with the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination (CARD) was instrumental in the enactment of the 1968 Race Relations Act and the establishment of the Race Relations Board, which laid the foundations for the Equality and Human Rights Commission we have today.
Ian Macdonald was also counsel in many high profile cases relating to prejudice within the criminal justice system. These include the trial of the Mangrove Nine (a group of British black activists tried for inciting a riot at a protest, in 1970) and the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry (representing Stephen’s friend Duwayne Brooks).
This year marks 30 years since the publication of Murder in the Playground. Ian Macdonald was commissioned by Manchester City Council to conduct a public inquiry into racism in the city’s schools, following the murder of schoolboy Ahmed Iqbal Ullah in 1986. The report identified patterns of institutional racism that contributed to the circumstances surrounding Ahmed’s death. The Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre is named in Ahmed’s memory. The legacy of his death and the investigation that followed will always hold an important place in the work that the Centre does.
Ian Macdonald was also a trustee of the George Padmore Institute (GPI) in North London, which was founded in 1991 by political and cultural activists. The GPI is an archive, library, educational resource and research centre which, much like the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre, houses material relating to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) experiences in the UK. Ian was actively committed to the development of this Institute until the last.
We send our condolences to Ian’s family and friends. He was an inspiration to us all and will not be forgotten.
As part of Black History Month 2019, we hosted an event with writer, poet, and director Elmi Ali called ‘The Afrofuturist Toolkit’. During the workshop the participants explored the theories behind Afrofuturism and created some of their own work envisioning the future of society. Ali’s overarching message was that Afrofuturism can take any form and is all around us, demanding a space in the future for Black people defined by themselves. “It looks to the past to define and make sense of the future.” According to Ali, ‘ism’ can be understood to mean “how something could be”.
Last month, 17 November, was the anniversary of the death of the poet Audre Lorde in 1992. Here, our book reviewer Jo writes about one of her best known and most accomplished collections of poetry, The Black Unicorn.
On the 18th June 2019 we launched ‘Journeys to Manchester’, an exhibition exploring the lives of people displaced by conflict, persecution or natural disaster who have settled in Manchester. The main purpose of the exhibition is to highlight experiences and realities of migrating to a new country, using quotes from oral histories of individuals involved in our projects. It was important to us that we included cherished memories of people’s countries of origin and the discovery of cultural differences once in the UK, rather than only portraying the traumatic experiences that have become synonymous with being a refugee in mainstream media.
Do you remember Gladys Tantaquidgeon? It’s certainly a name to conjure with…
This time I’m taking you on a journey back to when I shared my reflections on this amazing woman’s unique experience over a lifetime spanning the whole of the twentieth century (the blog post is reproduced below). As a Native American ‘Medicine Woman’ from the Mohegan Tribe she preserved the wisdom of her people, celebrating an approach to life which had all but vanished due to long centuries of persecution. As a university-educated academic and anthropologist, she specialised in collecting the lore of other tribes and interpreting it for a sceptical ‘scientific’ audience.
When I wrote about Gladys back in 2016, I tried to capture in words the dignity she and her people had shown in extreme adversity. Now I’d like to share with you a video I came across recently celebrating her 100th birthday in 1999, so we can all get to know this gentle but strong woman, who straddled two worlds it may have seemed impossible to reconcile.
Gladys died in November 2005 aged 106, having lived to see the rights of the Mohegan people to their ancestral lands recognised at last in US Federal law.
Upon the launch of her latest book, Kwame Nkrumah and the Dawn of the Cold War, Marika Sherwood spoke yesterday on the topics of colonialism, communism and the importance of researching black history and activism at an event hosted by the AIU Centre. The talk was followed by an engaging Q&A and insightful discussion with members of the audience who shared Marika’s passion for research and black history.
By Damali Eastmond-Scott – History Teacher at Manchester Enterprise Academy, Wythenshawe
Hip-hop as an umbrella for multiple subgenres has always been my number one. Sharing with reggae, a multi-faceted genre that I grew up to; a sound that brings back memories of sunny days in South London, sitting in my mother’s red Ford Orion bopping my head to the popular urban radio station, Choice FM. Hip-hop allowed me to explore social issues that other commercial genres wouldn’t dabble in. However, there was always one theme that caused listeners to question hip-hop and its intentions; forcing people to validate its sentiment and subconscious messages. This stretches as far as turning listeners away from it. The contentious problem is the topic of love and relationships.
As anyone who works in mainstream education will tell you, children and young people are offered increasingly little in the way of original, exciting and experimental ways of learning. Pupils are so swamped with exams and teachers are so pressed to get certain results that classrooms rarely see new, subversive methods put to use. Testing has supplanted teaching in schools’ priority lists.
Almost a year after the workings of a Hip-Hop resource first began, we are pleased to announce that the Hip-Hop Study Guide is complete. We have high hopes that the study guide will be an essential tool for those studying Hip-Hop as part of their university work, but also a resource for those interested in new perspectives on race, gender, music and culture more widely. As anticipated, the study guide has multiple sections, including summaries of books in the library, links to further scholarly reading online, and examples of Hip-Hop Education lesson plans written by students at the University of Manchester. It also features a glossary of Hip-Hop terms, for those researchers puzzling over what ‘OG’ actually stands for, or the meaning of the widely used term ‘baller’.
Held in Manchester in 1945, the 5th Pan-African Congresswas part of a series of seven meetings, intended to address the decolonisation of Africa from Western imperial powers. Set within a new world order of international cooperation during the 1940s, the Congress demanded an end to colonial rule and racial discrimination, as well as the recognition of human rights and equality of economic opportunity for all peoples of African descent.
The majority of our archival material here at the AIU Centre relates to the UK, more specifically to Manchester, emphasising our focus on race relations within our local communities’ history and heritage. However, I have recently taken on the task of getting to grips with the ‘Lou Kushnick Interviews’, which are all the way across the Atlantic ocean from Manchester in their subject matter. While they may focus on US history rather than Manchester’s, there is one quite major connection between the interviews and our city. Lou Kushnick, the founder of The Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource centre, came to Manchester from the US in 1963 to study, and decided to stay. He became a lecturer in American Studies at the University of Manchester and these interviews formed part of his various research endeavours, conducted both in this city and back in the US. They now form part of our archive, and can be browsed along with Lou’s various papers and documents.
There are 95 interviews in total, each around an hour in length. Some span over multiple recordings, and some are shorter and straight to the point. The interviewees are mostly American politicians, academics, lawyers, union members and activists. If you are interested in US political and social history, or US racial inequality within housing, employment, education and welfare, the Lou Kushnick interviews will fascinate you. As a past student of American Studies myself, they certainly fascinated me.
A review from our book reviewer Jo, this time from her own blog Floralia (which is well worth following!).
My Name Is Leon is a beautifully written story of mixed race fostering and adoption, set in 1981; a year of heightened tension between Britain’s black communities and the police, that led to uprisings in Toxteth, Handsworth and a number of other cities, including Manchester’s Moss Side. Fascinating to read this moment in history through young Leon’s eyes.
This book isn’t in our collection, but is available at most of the Manchester Libraries sites.
My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal, Penguin Books: 2017 (first published by Viking: 2016)
Sometimes all that ten-year-old Leon possesses is his name.
So, much of his time is spent accumulating or enumerating the items that actually belong to him. But this is no mercenary acquisitiveness. He needs things with which to build a new life together with his baby brother, Jake, who is adopted into a new family – without Leon.
As the momentum of the novel picks up, with its gritty realist detail and layering of overlapping worlds, these items range from the toys he receives as Christmas presents, mainly from social workers (Dukes of Hazzard Racing Set, Meccano set, Action Man Cherilea Amphibious Jeep with trailer) to household provisions that he gathers together himself – baby food, tins, a bag of sugar, a blanket.
The novel charts a year in Leon’s life in which he…
As soon as I opened the ‘Adventure Play’ folder of the Elouise Edwards photograph collection I knew I wanted to write about these pictures. Although the folder also included photos of children horse riding, ice skating, river-wading and bouncy castle-jumping, the photos of the adventure playgrounds are what had me hooked. I have so many questions! Who built them? Where were they? Were they safe? Did that even matter?
The photos show enormous wooden and metal structures, usually near a large housing block or in large empty space, with children leaping, hanging and balancing on the various platforms, slides, planks and ropes – smiling for the camera as they go. It struck me just how different playtime was for children in the 70s than it is today – not a screen in sight (just dizzying heights and a couple of splinters instead).
From my experience, using the Centre is like an adventure into the unknown in terms of the richness and quality of the resources at our disposal. Whilst it’s true navigating the databases to find material relevant to one’s particular area of interest can sometimes be tricky, that’s more than made up for in the quality of input and guidance provided by the staff tasked to make our time in the Centre both enjoyable and optimal.
I’m mindful of course that these may just be my own opinions. So I’ve been interested to find out whether other users agree with my assessment by checking out their feedback.* In this blog post, I’m sharing what I found with you.
For me, photographs are such a valuable aspect of any archive. This is not only because of the stories they tell and the memories they preserve, but also because they transcend any language or literacy barriers and can be appreciated by everyone who sees them. We are lucky enough to have had thousands of photographs donated to us over the years, and they are by far my favourite collections to look through.
The Elouise Edwards Photograph Collection is our largest collection of photographs, featuring everything from sporting events and political demonstrations to photos from the Abasindi Black Women’s Collective and Roots Festivals. Most of the photographs are shot beautifully in black and white, and show members of various communities around Manchester in the 1970s and 1980s, mostly in Moss Side and Hulme. Elouise Edwards is a longstanding resident of Moss Side herself, after moving here in 1961 from Guyana where she was born. Although Elouise was at first unhappy in England, she soon found her passion in the promoting, defending and empowering of her community. If these photographs are anything to go by, she helped make a lot of people happy!
While the majority of the boxes in our archive contain uplifting material about the lives and experiences of black and minority ethnic people and their histories, there are inevitably some boxes that are far from uplifting. Though difficult to read and controversial in content, this smaller and lesser-known part of the collection reminds us that racism has always existed and should not be excluded from our collective memory.
This is one of the reasons I decided to take a look in our box labelled ‘Scientific Racism’, a certain type of racism that claims to be backed up by scientific research. The other reason is the unwelcome fact that scientific racism never truly went away, and is once again rearing its head in an increasingly mainstream corner of America, according to several recent news articles. A small group of political scientists is attempting to revive the types of findings that are recorded in our archive, which are then being used to a certain degree by members of the ‘alt-right’ to justify their nationalist and racially discriminatory politics. Searching through the box I noticed that the material in our archive and the claims made in the past few years are alarmingly similar, but so are the methods of scrutiny, backlash and protest against them. I hope this blog post will remind us that racism never disappeared and is still a threat to racial equality today.
Our archivist Jo Robson reflects on our Hulme Study collection
The Hulme Feasibility Study was undertaken between 1987 and 1990 to formulate proposals with a view to improving the environmental, commercial, employment and social conditions in Hulme and the Moss Side District Centre areas of Manchester. Professor Valerie Karn of the University of Salford was appointed as an independent chair to the Supervisory group. The Hulme Study Archive held at the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre is made up of the papers collected by Valerie Karn during her time as Chair of the group.
The Study was innovative in its management which was tri-partite being jointly supervised by The Department of the Environment, Manchester City Council and tenants representatives. The aim of the Study was to provide an independent account of the social, physical and economic conditions on the estate. In addition it aimed to identify opportunities for improvements and recommend short and long term strategies which the three parties could use to develop an action plan for the area.
This is a timeless book that will not age, like the works of James Baldwin, Maya Angelou or Toni Morrison. ‘This is required reading,’ Morrison herself has said, in a quote that foots the cover of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ bestseller, Between the World and Me.
Between the World and Me is written in the form of a letter addressed to Coates’ teenage son, a veritable prayer that is drenched in love and born out of struggle. It should make America sit up and take notice.
The 14th November is the birthday of Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister since the country became independent from imperialist Britain in 1947. In India, this day is celebrated as ‘Bal Diwas’ or Children’s Day, in remembrance of Nehru’s belief that children should be lovingly nurtured as they are the ‘future of the nation and citizens of tomorrow’.
A close follower of Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru believed in the fight for independence from Britain but also the prevention of religious division. He joined the Indian National Congress and was eventually elected as its president. Nehru worked alongside Louis Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India elected by Britain, and became Prime Minister on 15th August 1947. He is widely considered to be the architect of the modern India as a sovereign, socialist, secular, and democratic republic.
To commemorate what would be his 129th birthday, I decided to take a look at Nehru’s inspirational speech ‘A Tryst with Destiny’, a physical copy of which can be found on our Politics shelf here at the AIU Centre.
At the beginning of this year we were (and still are!) very pleased to announce that our collection of publications from the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) were made available digitally, meaning numerous pamphlets, reports and policies are now online for you to look at – Click here to view the collection, and click here to read a blog post about the digital process! I have decided that these are especially worth a look this month, as it was 42 years ago in November that the CRE was first created.
One document I came across was the ‘Training Handbook for Social Services Departments’ working in multi-racial areas (see below). The Handbook explains that the CRE was formed under the Act of 1976, with the hope of eliminating racial discrimination within England, Wales and Scotland. This 1976 legislation replaced the previous 1965 Race Relations Act, which failed to address racial discrimination within housing, employment and the legal system. Almost half a century later, racial discrimination still exists in our society – which causes me to ask: Did the 1976 Act succeed in its aims? How is racial discrimination characterised now in comparison to how it was perceived in the 1970s?
To kick off our final week of Black History Month events, we screened Generation Revolution, a documentary directed by Cassie Quarless and Usayd Younis in 2016. The event took place in connection with UoM History Department and the Race, Roots and Resistance Collective, and was followed by a Q&A with the directors and historian Dr Kerry Pimblott. Watching the film and listening to the audience’s responses was an incredible insight into race relations in Britain, but also reinforced the necessity and value of our collections here at the AIU Centre.
Library Assistants Waqar Younis and Letitia Budu have had some important insights whilst re-organising our Institute of Race Relations Newspaper Clippings collection…
The IRR newspaper clippings collection focuses on race related matters from the late 1970s until the early 1980s. In the process of reorganising the clippings to make them more accessible, we’ve also been able to understand how far the UK has come in terms of race equality and where improvements still need to be made.
It’s important to look at history to prevent it from repeating itself. Looking back at the past might help us in the future!
Members of our collections team also attended the workshop on describing and managing racially insensitive archives earlier this year, along with Jass Thethi – a colleague (And good friend) of ours over at the John Rylands Library.
In this blog post, Jass uses two concrete examples to explore how archivists might approach potentially insensitive catalogue descriptions and documentation, without ‘white-washing’ history.
Items within special collections can date back hundreds of years, so it’s no surprise that within these materials it is possible to find outdated or problematic attitudes and language. I am currently researching potential ways to manage this.
In May 2018 I attended ‘Protocols for describing and managing racially insensitive archives,’ a workshop facilitated by Arike Oke and Simon Demissie, from the Wellcome Library, based on the Master’s Dissertation by Alicia Chilcott. This workshop explored the racial insensitivity in archival descriptions and potential solutions.
In June 2018 I attended ‘Museum Remix,’ a workshop facilitated by Museum Detox at the University of Cambridge. Here, we explored how the use of insensitive descriptions in record keeping can bleed into online catalogues and exhibitions. This spreads misinformation by misrepresenting marginalised groups: an injustice to the educational value of archives and the communities surrounding them.
Today’s blog focuses on Alex Jones, a forced marriage campaigner from Cardiff, Wales. Founder of the community-based organisationIn Memory of Shafilea Ahmed, Alex has been raising awareness of forced marriage for over ten years. Becki spoke with Alex to find out more about his work and why he sees forced marriage as an important issue to address.
And so the day finally arrived – on 3rd August our Director and long-standing Education Co-ordinator Jackie Ould logged off for the last time and headed into retirement.
Jackie has been involved in our organisation since its inception. She originally met our founder Lou Kushnick when she was one of his American Studies students here at the University of Manchester.
In 1998 Lou was establishing the Resource Centre – an open access library of books about race and race relations, amassed during his academic and activist career. He asked Jackie, who by this point was a Black achievement and EAL (English as additional language) teacher for Manchester City Council, if she could help. She was, in her own words ‘pretty sceptical really about how it was going to succeed’, but agreed to be involved and immediately started to think about the educational potential of the library:
I wanted to know how all of these academic books were at all relevant to that strand of my other life, if you like – and how we could make them relevant and applicable and useable in schools
She started to look at developing the collection for teaching purposes, but quickly realised the task would be bigger than that:
…we could buy books about Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks and any number of other African American heroes. But it was extremely hard to find any about Black British heroes, other than the occasional one like Mary Seacole. Very hard indeed to get those. So I wanted to know how does this connect with that other part of my life which is the teaching role? And how do we use this as an opportunity to start generating those materials… First of all buy them in if they exist, but if it doesn’t exist then logically, start making them.
This was the start of our outreach programme, which has always been much more than a just an outreach programme and is based on co-creating educational materials on BAME histories and experiences with the communities those histories and experiences come from.
In her final post, Dr Noreen Mirza, reflects on the strength and resilience of women across the generations that she met during her research.
We have all come across middle-aged and elderly Pakistani women in Britain, in traditional dress, going about their daily life, at the supermarket, waiting for a bus, at the doctor’s surgery. Many people may assume that these women are perhaps submissive, trapped in a patriarchal culture, not integrated into British way of life. These are typically negative stereotypes created by the media, greatly influencing the general public.
It may not cross people’s mind that many of these women are responsible for the socio-economic mobility of the next generation of British-Pakistanis. The media does not seem to show interest in the number of successful British-Pakistani women and the factors contributing to their success. The women in my study credited their mothers for achievements in their education and career. They considered their mothers as their role model and inspiration in life. The mothers wanted their daughters to be good wives, mothers, students, professionals, citizens and friends, and to earn the benefits from these relationships and roles. Therefore, I felt it important to interview the mothers of some of my participants to find out how they raised their daughters to be confident, driven and competitive.
The next post in Dr Noreen Mirza‘s series based on her PhD research reveals the many ways Islamophobia is experienced and perceived by middle-class British-Pakistani women.
My research gave me an insight into the type and also extent of prejudice experienced by British-Pakistanis in their daily life. Much to my ignorance, and I suppose naivety, I did not expect prejudice to be widespread among the middle-classes. I had expected ignorance to be the cause of bigotry and I least expected this from people who had been to university, lived in cosmopolitan cities, and were well-travelled. I assumed that these experiences would make people open-minded and appreciate diversity.
The women I worked with believed that Muslims and British-Pakistanis had become a stigmatised group after 9/11. The effects of this were exasperating because of the lack of acknowledgement that the majority of British-Pakistani Muslims are law-abiding citizens who make a positive contribution to society. Prejudice seemed to be a common occurrence in their lives which challenged their sense of belonging and acceptance in Britain. Most were born and raised in Britain, and with rising tensions they no longer felt welcome or safe in a country they regarded as home. Their exposure to biased news in the media challenged their sense of ‘Britishness’.
This Saturday, 14th July 2018, marks the fourth annual Day of Memory for victims of ‘honour’-based violence (HBV). In this short post, Becki explains how the day came to be, why we need it, and what is being done to ensure that those who have lost their lives to so-called honour are never forgotten.
This coming Saturday, Shafilea Ahmed would turn 32. If her aspirations at school were anything to go by, she would now be enjoying life as an established barrister. However, Shafilea never made it this far; in fact, she never made it past 17. In 2003, she was brutally murdered by her parents at home in Warrington, Cheshire. Concerned that Shafilea was becoming too ‘westernised’ and bringing shame on the family, her mother and father suffocated her in front of her four younger siblings by forcing a plastic bag down her throat.
Last week we said farewell and good luck to our Collections Documentation Assistant Carly Morel. Carly joined the Resource Centre team in 2015 and made a big impact during her time with us. She bravely tackled our backlog of uncatalogued physical archive material, creating in the region of 18 new collections and working in some capacity on countless others, with enthusiasm and sensitivity.
She has the capacity to be interested in just about anything and to dig out the most obscure and revealing aspects of a collection. Many a time she’d lean over and say ‘Hey Hannah, listen to this’, read something out of the letter / pamphlet / report she was cataloguing, then launch into an analysis of what it means for Trump’s America / Brexit Britain / the Mediterranean migrant crisis, or whatever was happening at the time. All of which made her a great archivist and lots of fun to share an office with.
But perhaps her biggest impact has been on our digital archive work. Carly also works in the digital technologies team at the University of Manchester Library and her expertise in digital preservation came at the just the right time. The nature of our collections means that much of it is born digital, and thanks to Carly we now have polices and procedures to properly care for this material.
Whilst reading Shadows on the Tundra, a new release by Peirene Press of the testimony of a Siberian gulag survivor, I was reminded of a slim, privately published volume that I first read some years ago while working on book abstracts at the AIU Centre.
Shadows on the Tundra, the story of the Lithuanian Dalia Grinkevičiūtė’s horrifying experiences, is an incredibly important piece of international survival literature, belonging in the hallowed company of Anne Frank’s diaries, the works of Primo Levi and of Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Cheetham to Cordova: A Manchester Man of the Thirties on the other hand provides the opportunity of a glimpse into the Lithuanian migrant experience here in the UK, as told autobiographically by Maurice Levine.
Another great post based on our archives from the Archives+ Digital Journalist Volunteers – Louise Da-Cocodia and the Windrush Generation’s vital contribution to the NHS.
The summer of 2018 sees the 70th anniversary of two key moments in British history – the first wave of post-war mass immigration with the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush on 22 June 1948 and the establishment of the National Health Service (NHS) on 5 July 1948. There would appear to be no obvious connection between the two, and yet, in its days of infancy, the NHS heavily relied on many of those who stepped off of the boat in Tilbury, their children and also the thousands who arrived in the years to come – all dubbed the ‘Windrush generation’.
When the Windrush docked in Tilbury, she brought with her approximately 492 people – most of whom were men, but also women and children – from the Caribbean, mainly from the islands of Jamaica and Trinidad. Invited by the British government to help ‘rebuild’ Britain after the destruction of war, the…
The Archives+ Digital Journalists have been delving into our oral history collections to learn about experiences of the Windrush Generation here in Manchester. Here’s an insight into the life of one of the many ordinary/extraordinary members of this generation; Euton Christian.
You can learn more about Mr Christian in the Roots Oral History Project collection and the Exploring our Roots Collection.
This year marks seventy years since the Empire Windrush set sail from the West Indies and docked in the UK on June 22nd 1948.
Originally sent to bring servicemen who were on leave from the British armed forces back to the UK, because of the size of the ship, hundreds of others were offered the chance to join them on board to fill up space, for a £28 fee. These men were attracted to the idea of life in Britain for a variety of reasons; including the high unemployment rate in Caribbean countries, and Britain being presented throughout the education system as the loving mother-country filled with opportunities.
The Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre in Manchester Central Library has an extensive collection of material relating to those who came over on the Windrush from the West Indies and settled in Manchester, including several oral history projects. It was…
I decided to speak about visual piety to two of the women in my research, Amber and Syrah, who both wore the hijab. Their friendship blossomed when they realised that they both shared a similar lifestyle and religious outlook. More importantly they share a love of fashion, and they exchanged ideas and tips with one another about how to combine style and modesty.
It seemed a common assumption among the people I came across that studying my own society would be an easy task because of my familiarity in terms of language, customs and values. Many were also under the impression that people are more accommodating, open and trusting towards those who share a common background. These assumptions were greatly misleading. The fact of the matter was, in my case at least, that being a native anthropologist meant people were reticent about divulging information because of the fear of confidential information being leaked, leading to gossip in the community.
I began fieldwork in October 2012 in South Manchester which involved following the lives of a core group of twelve women over a period of fourteen months. These women became the participants in my study. Initially I had interviewed approximately 80 women, including friends and family of my participants, as well as other women who could not commit to participating because of longer periods of time involved.
Participating in my research gave the women an opportunity to express their views and concerns about issues such as prejudice and inequality, and to share their experiences of being middle-class British-Pakistanis in Manchester.
This is the first in a series of posts from Dr Noreen Mirza, sharing stories from her research into the experiences of middle class British-Pakistani women in Manchester. First, how her own formative experiences underpin her research.
Being a second-generation British-Pakistani and Muslim woman growing up in 1980s Manchester, in a predominantly white neighbourhood, I remember the deep desire to be the same as the other children I played with in my neighbourhood and at school. I was aware of the difference in my skin colour, heritage and religious background, as all the children I played with were white British Christians. The yearning to be the same stayed with me into my teenage years and later influenced the subject of my PhD thesis, on middle class British Pakistani women in Manchester.
As I embarked on my research, I felt that the image of British-Pakistanis in the media was a misrepresentation and not a true reflection of a lot of British-Pakistanis like myself. I wanted to explore class identity and show the diversity among British-Pakistanis. We are not a homogenous group and our experiences and upbringing has a profound impact in shaping who we are.
Anyone putting together a research project or hammering out a dissertation topic has a lot to think about. What’s the subject? How’s it going to be investigated? What kind of information will be necessary? And where’s that information going to come from?
Here are two reasons why I believe the AIU Centre archive is a resource worth considering for studies covering a wide range of subject areas. It might not be immediately apparent that a Centre making available materials facilitating the study of race relations would be relevant to you, but hopefully by the end of this post its potential significance may have become clearer.
1. Qualitative data brings quantitative data to life
Have you ever whiled away an hour or two in the University of Manchester archive? You should try it sometime. You never know what you’ll find.
I was in there one day rooting around trying to uncover the origins of international students who’d come to study in our city over the decades. Imagine my surprise when I saw the following statistic in the 1954 Report of the Council to the Court of Governors: “Stateless …. 1”. What could that mean? Sixty people from India or twelve from France is understandable, but “Stateless …. 1”?
You’ve probably guessed already I was on another voyage of discovery, one which I’d like to share with you…
Don’t think the mass migration of desperate refugees we’ve witnessed in recent years is anything new to Europe. It isn’t. The “Stateless Student” I’d stumbled across turned out to be only one individual amongst the millions of unfortunate souls left displaced and destitute on mainland Europe at the end of World War II. The cataclysm of the war-torn early 1940s had wrecked economies and devastated huge swathes of the landmass, leaving governments and people with insurmountable difficulties.
A couple of weeks ago I (Hannah) wheeled a precariously-laden trolley of archive boxes over the road to the Friend’s Meeting House, to be the source material for a day-long research workshop for undergraduate History students. Reblogged from History@manchester, here are Dr Kerry Pimblott’s reflections on what was a hugely inspiring day for all of us.
The key to a more just future lies in a real reckoning with our collective pasts.
At least that was the thinking of the eminent scholar-activist, W. E. B. Du Bois. Writing in February 1905 – at the height of what many consider ‘the nadir’, or lowest point, in American race relations – Du Bois stated,
We can only understand the present by continually referring to and studying the past: when any one of our intricate daily phenomena puzzles us; when there arises religious problems, political problems, race problems, we must always remember that while their solution lies here in the present, their cause and their explanation lie in the past.
Du Bois’s call to ‘look-back-to-move-forward’ rings no less true today than it did over a century ago. Last week it was this dictum – in a new nadir typified by the twin tragedies of Grenfell…
A guest post today from Dr Noreen Mirza* with a personal reflection on this weekend’s royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Watching the royal wedding with my mother, sister and niece this weekend, my attention was firmly fixed on Doria Ragland, the mother of the bride. The wedding itself taught me two things: We have come so far, yet we have a lot to learn. Ms Ragland taught me so much more.
Not in her wildest dreams would her own mother – the grandmother of the bride – a black woman in a racially segregated society, forced to sit on a racially segregated bus, imagine that one day her daughter would be linking arms with the future King of England at the wedding ceremony of their children. The grace and decorum Ms Ragland possessed was truly inspiring and humbling. Raw emotions of love, pride and happiness were etched on her face. These are human emotions which are real, universal and transcend culture, religion, ethnicity and class.
In this book, Reggie Yates provides those who have watched his BBC documentaries (‘Extreme Russia’, ‘Extreme South Africa’, among many others) with a behind-the-scenes look at their making, plus an understanding of his own career development.
If you haven’t seen his documentaries then this book gives a flavour of his presenting style on-screen, as he dissects the films in detail; but with the additional insights of a written narrative. The major landmarks, and all the highways and byways in between. His documentaries explore, broadly speaking, youth-centred issues – such as being young and gay in Russia, aspiring to supermodel status in Siberia, body modification in the UK.
Yates’ first official job as a working actor age nine was ‘a tiny role on Channel 4’s longest-running sitcom at the time’, Desmond’s. A black family with a successful barbershop in Peckham, South East London. Some years later he comes across Louis Theroux documentaries and immediately knows that ‘this was a lane I would kill to operate in.’
It’s been a few weeks since Research Associate, Becki Kaur, joined the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre to develop resources on ‘honour’-based violence and forced marriage. In her introductory post, Becki promised that she would update the blog with details of how the collection was progressing. Today, Becki talks about an exciting development in the project, as she sets out to collect oral histories from professionals working in the field. She discusses how this decision came about, why it’s important, and the benefits that oral histories will bring to the collection. If you’re a professional working in this field and you’d like to be involved in this important part of the project, then please read on…
This week, as we continue to hear about British Caribbeans facing deportation, theracetoread blog highlights children’s authors who came from the Caribbean, showing how much richer British children’s literature is with the contributions of the Windrush generation.
Although I have been following the story for a couple of weeks now, the news finally caught up with the BBC (http://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-43746746/windrush-migrants-facing-deportation-threat) and other news organizations that some Windrush-generation British Caribbean people were being faced with deportation thanks to stricter immigration rules. These rules require Britons to prove their status as citizens in order to be able to work, use the NHS, and access other services. However, even though people arriving legally from the Caribbean to fill labour shortages after 1948 and before 1973 were given permanent right to reside, the Home Office kept no records, and the burden of proof is therefore on the migrant. Many of these migrants came as children, on their parents’ passports, however, and therefore find it difficult to produce the needed proof. Although the deportations are under review as of this writing, and Theresa May has apologized to Caribbean nations for any…
Becki Kaur has recently submitted her PhD, which explores how professionals working in the domestic abuse sector understand, explain, and address ‘honour’-based violence. We’re excited to have her working with us on a six-month project to develop the library’s resources on this very important topic.
I’ve heard some people say that, by the time it gets to the end of their PhD, they’ve fallen out of love with their research topic. In this respect, I consider myself fortunate. Although the nature of my area of research – ‘honour’-based violence – is (to put it nicely) deeply unpleasant, I feel as passionate about raising awareness of the subject as I did when I started my research journey four years ago. So, when the opportunity arose to work with the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre (AIUC) to help develop ‘honour’-based violence-related resources, I didn’t have to be asked twice!
We currently have two postgraduate students from the Institute for Cultural Practices (ICP) at the University of Manchester on a placement with us. They have been investigating the value of historic documents and how to encourage further deposits from local BAME communities as part of the CIFTC project. Today Naomi Weaver and Yang Li were busy interviewing our long-time friend and trustee, Nigel de Noronha in various locations around Central Library as part of a project to demystify the archive. Nigel was once a member of the Asian Youth Movement (AYM) and also contributed to the Macdonald Inquiry, so features prominently in a number of records we hold. He is now a Teaching Fellow in Sociology at the University of Warwick.
During his interview, Nigel reflected on both the experience of encountering representations of himself as a young activist and on the value of being able to examine such collections as…
As you may have heard, over the next three years we will be delivering our major Heritage Lottery-funded Coming in from the Cold project. The project will support the development and delivery of BAME-focused heritage projects across Greater Manchester, with the aim of building a more comprehensive and representative archive collection.
Now we have a recruited a fantastic new team we’re officially up and running. We have a dedicated blog for the project, which you can (and should!) follow here,
and you can download the official press release here.
We’ll be re-blogging lots of posts from Coming in from the Cold here on Reading Race Collecting Cultures too. I’m going to do that right away as it happens, watch this space…
Book: Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women, by Elena Favilli & Francesca Cavallo. First published in Great Britain by Particular Books, an imprint of Penguin Books: 2017
Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women is a book that brings together stories of women’s lives spanning human history and traversing the globe.
It’s where someone like Astrid Lindgren, Swedish writer born in 1907 and author of Pippi Longstocking (a much-loved children’s story about an archetypal rebel girl) can occupy the pages that follow Ashley Fiolek, the 27 year old American Motocross racer who does not let the fact that she was born hearing-impaired hold her back.
Where an archaeologist, Maria Reiche, born 1903, who left Germany to study the ancient Nazca lines of Peru, rolls up alongside Maria Montessori, physician and educator, who at the turn of the 20th century developed a new…
For International Women’s Day this year we’re sharing the story of Fatima Nehar Begum, the mother of Ahmed Iqbal Ullah, who in the 30 years since Ahmed’s tragic death has led a number of extraordinary and positive developments, including building the Ahmed Iqbal Memorial School in Bangladesh.
We explored and documented her story, among others, in our HLF supported Legacy of Ahmed project 2015-17. The resulting archive contains an extensive collection of oral history interviews with those who remember Ahmed, those who experienced the aftermath of his death and those involved in the many projects and initiatives that make up his legacy.
The Heritage Imaging Team has recently completed a project to digitise 901 lantern slides held in the Christian Brethren Archive. As mentioned in a previous blog post, in the case of many of these slides, we had very little contextual information, or information relating to their provenance.
The creation of a catalogue for visual material without much knowledge of origin or content presents certain challenges and concerns.
If you are unable to identify the origin of the image, and the scene it depicts, the cataloguer may be reduced to simply describing what they can see, and thus descriptions like ‘Man under tree holding stick’ are born. As there were several cataloguers involved with this project, there are further concerns in terms of the standardisation of language, as one person may decide to to describe the same moving body of water as a river, and another as a stream.
What happens to the outputs of community-led heritage projects? Why are they so rarely accessioned into registered collections? Can we create a model for projects that benefits both communities and collecting institutions?
These are the questions that Jennie and myself (Hannah) explored back in November at the National Archives’ annual ‘Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities’ conference (DCDC). We shared the findings of the first phase of our HLF-supported project Coming in from the Cold, and also our experience as a heritage organisation with a more holistic approach to community engagement and collection development.
Did you know Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the ‘godmother of rock’n’roll’ performed at Chorlton railway station in 1964? She was one of a number of legendary blues musicians who played as part of the ‘Gospel and Blues Train’ – a one-off performance contrived by Granada Television, which included turning the station (which was roughly on the site of what is now Chorlton Metrolink stop) into a scene from the wild west, with crates, chickens, wanted posters, and a large sign temporarily renaming the station ‘Chorltonville’.
It’s a piece of history that was at risk of being forgotten, until the footage recently appeared on YouTube, including this film of Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s performance (in the rain, just in case she was in doubt she was in the North of England…).
You can now read about this story in a beautiful new book we have produced and published in partnership with Chorlton High School.
We recently received confirmation of a £357,000 grant from the HLF to deliver phase two of our ‘Coming In From the Cold’ project. Everyone at the Trust is delighted!As a result we are now recruiting for the three following posts:
The deadline for applications is 05/02/2018. We expect interviews to take place during the week beginning 26th February 2018. For further information please telephone Jennifer Vickers or Jacqueline Ould on 0161 275 2920
Applications are particularly welcome from black and ethnic minority ethnic candidates, who are under-represented in work in this sector.
In previous posts, we’ve discussed the importance of the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre (AIU Centre) and its collections, touched on some of the realities of archives and archival research, and looked at the kinds of questions we need to ask ourselves before engaging with an archive collection. We’ve also delved into the two main ways into the collection:
In a previous post we looked at the kinds of questions we need to ask ourselves before engaging with a resource such as the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre (AIU Centre), and we learnt that there are three ways into the collection:
This time I’ll be looking at the ‘Human Interface’.
The ‘Human Interface’ with any library or archive comprises those individuals whose role is to take care of the collection, answer questions from users, find information, or give advice regarding the materials the library or archive contains. In relation to the Centre, subject area resource lists and databases can produce raw data about materials which might be relevant to a topic, but interacting with a knowledgeable human being (in writing or face-to-face) opens up a whole new level of insight. Such an individual can give guidance tailored to what you in particular want to know.
In this post, I’ll be giving insight into who the Centre’s human interfaces are and how they can smooth our way into the Centre’s resources. So you’ll be able to dip in to find what’s particularly interesting to you, I’ll be covering the subject in the following sections: