A phase of confusion, debate and hostility: Our insights from the IRR newspaper clippings collection

Library Assistants Waqar Younis and Letitia Budu have had some important insights whilst re-organising our Institute of Race Relations Newspaper Clippings collection…
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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!
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Respectful descriptions of marginalised groups in Archives

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.

John Rylands Library Special Collections Blog

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collections can date back hundreds of years, so it’s no surprise that within these materials it is possible to find outdated or problematic attitudes and language.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.

This blog post will focus on how…

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Forced Marriage: Views from the Frontline – Alex Jones

Today’s blog focuses on Alex Jones, a forced marriage campaigner from Cardiff, Wales. Founder of the community-based organisation In Memory of Shafilea AhmedAlex 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.

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“All children should see themselves represented in the books they read”

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.

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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.

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Researching the experiences of middle-class British-Pakistani women: Feminism, the British-Pakistani way

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.

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Mother and daughter. Source: junaidrao (www.flickr.com/photos/junaidrao) (cropped)

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Researching the experiences of middle-class British-Pakistani women: Experiencing Islamophobia

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’.

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British Mosque. Source: RPM (www.flickr.com/photos/rpmarks)

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Introducing our community archive

What is an archive? How does community heritage material end up in our archive? What do we do with it? Who uses it?

To encourage more BAME community groups to consider donating their heritage project outputs to our (or another relevant) archive, we’ve produced a short film to demystify the archive.

 

Many thanks to our dedicated Institute for Cultural Practices placement students Naomi Weaver and Yang Li for producing this. You can read more about how and why the film was made over on our Coming in from the Cold blog.

‘Honour’-Based Violence: Why Have a Day of Memory?

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. Continue reading

Thank you Carly!

By Hannah

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.

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We couldn’t find a good picture of Carly at work, so here she is on holiday! Source: Carly Morel

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.

Lithuanian migrant experiences – Book review

By Jo Manby

Cheetham to Cordova: Maurice Levine – A Manchester Man of the Thirties, by Maurice Levine. Neil Richardson, Manchester: 1984

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.

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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.

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