Stateless in Manchester – the strange case of the “D.P. Student”

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The Roving Reader Files

 

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.

Refugees in Germany moving westwards in 1945

Refugees in Germany moving westwards in 1945 (Image courtesy the German Federal Archives via Wikimedia Commons – Attribution: Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1985-021-09 / Unknown / CC-BY-SA 3.0 de)

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Manchester Movement Histories

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.

History@Manchester

By Dr Kerry Pimblott

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…

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Thank you Ms Ragland: A personal reflection on the royal wedding

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.

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Image by Sue (www.flickr.com/people/29204155@N08/) (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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Behind the footage: a survey of a career in TV – Book review

By Jo Manby

Reggie Yates: Unseen – My Journey, by Reggie Yates. BBC Books and Penguin Random House, London: 2017

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.’

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Working in the Field of ‘Honour’-Based Violence? Share Your Story With Us!

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…

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