Why use the AIU Centre archive?

cartoon books and globe on shelvesResearch Skills Series

By Alison Newby

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 Continue reading

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Ways into the Collection: Serendipity

cartoon books and globe on shelvesResearch Skills Series

By Alison Newby

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:

We might be forgiven for thinking that’s about it. However, we’ve briefly mentioned a third way into the collection, which we’re going to take a look at here:

  • Serendipity (just going in and browsing)

So you’ll be able to dip into this post to find information that’s particularly interesting to you, I’ll be looking at serendipity under the following headings:

  1. What is Serendipity?
  2. Serendipity in action

Continue reading

Ways into the Collection: The ‘Human Interface’

cartoon books and globe on shelvesResearch Skills Series

By Alison Newby

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:

  • Databases (including subject area resource lists)
  • ‘Human Interface’ (speaking to the librarian and/or Collections Access Officer)
  • Serendipity (just going in and browsing)

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:

  1. Introducing the Centre’s ‘Human Interfaces’ – Hannah Niblett & Ruth Tait
  2. Ruth Tait’s insights into the strengths of the Centre and its collections
  3. Ruth Tait’s advice on how to prepare for consulting the ‘Human Interfaces’

Continue reading

Ways into the Collection: Databases

cartoon books and globe on shelvesResearch Skills Series

By Alison Newby

Last time we discussed the importance of the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre (AIU Centre) and its collections, touching on some of the realities of archives and archival research, and looking at the kinds of questions we need to ask ourselves before engaging with an archive collection. This time we’ll be moving on to begin checking out the ways relevant Centre resources can be identified and accessed. 

There are three ways into the collection:

  • Databases  (including subject area resource lists)
  • ‘Human Interface’  (speaking to the librarian and/or Collections Access Officer)
  • Serendipity (just going in and browsing)

Which one you start with is very much up to you and your preferred style. This time I’ll be introducing the different database options at your disposal. I’ll be looking at the ‘Human Interface’ and serendipity in future posts.

Currently the Centre doesn’t have one dedicated searchable database for you to consult devoted to bringing together all the items in its own book and archive collections. Centre collections feature on a number of databases, each geared to its own purposes, placing the Centre’s offerings in amongst those of a variety of other institutions. It’s not always easy to identify the material in the Centre relevant to your interests. Therefore this blog post gives you information and hints that should smooth your way into finding what you need.

So you’ll be able to dip in to find what’s particularly interesting to you, I’ll be covering the subject under the following headings:

  1. First stop – subject area resource lists
  2. Main databases to build a relevant list of Centre resources
  3. Getting hold of the material
  4. Other databases, research aids and links to related collections

Continue reading

Ways into the Collection: Questions to ask yourself

cartoon books and globe on shelves

Research Skills Series

By Alison Newby

The Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre (AIU Centre) is the premier resource centre in the country devoted to making available materials to facilitate the study of race relations. As such, it’s consulted by researchers from across the world. We at the University of Manchester are fortunate that it’s situated down the road from us in Manchester Central Library. The AIU Centre is the University’s flagship representative in the regional archive umbrella group Archives+. That we have such easy access to it is a rare privilege we should all appreciate and take advantage of.

That’s if we know the relevance of race relations-related resources to our studies, and if we understand how to make the most of the collections. A couple of big ‘ifs’.

The blog posts I’ll be contributing are designed to help us think through these issues. I’ll be taking a look at the kinds of resources held by the Centre, and what they have to offer to various subject areas. Hopefully it will become easier for us to use those resources more efficiently and optimally to enrich our studies.

I’m going to start by trying to get to grips with understanding how to make the most of the collections. In this post, we’ll touch on:

  • some of the realities of archives and archival research that we need to bear in mind
  • questions to ask ourselves that will help our preparations to engage an archive collection

With the stage set, in three posts we’ll look at each of the three ways into the AIU Centre’s collections:

So let’s make a start… Continue reading

Using our Collections in your Studies: Introducing the Research Skills Series

cartoon books and globe on shelves

Research Skills Series

Most of us know the basics of using a lending library, and anyone who has studied history will have a grasp of what archives are, how they’re accessed and why they’re important. But seeing all of the possibilities of a collection for your particular area of study takes time; something many researchers don’t have. So we want to give you a few shortcuts, suggestions and an insider perspective, to help you make the best use of our archive and library collections.

Over the coming months our Honorary Research Associate Dr Alison Newby will be exploring the collection and putting together a series of blog posts about how it can be used. She’ll cover practicalities, such as how to use databases and collection information; she’ll highlight some collection strengths, such as studying oral histories; and she’ll also reflect on the issues that a collection like ours raises for research, such as reflecting a diversity of historical voices.

Alison is a historian by training, as well as a qualified coach working in the HE sector. For her, the roles of coach and historian involve using similar skills – including the abilities to see lots of different perspectives, and to pull together reflections based on the ‘stories’ people actually narrate. You can read about her coaching work here. On the history side, she completed her PhD on nineteenth-century American social and political history at the University of Manchester, and has been specialising in focused research projects bringing together race relations themes and materials from cultural institutions in the Manchester area. Having visited a variety of archives of different sizes in the UK and the USA, she is able to appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of each.

The posts in this Research Skills Series are aimed at researchers at all levels, so whether you’re just starting out with independent research or a school project, or you’re a seasoned researcher interested in maximising your time at the Resource Centre, we hope there will be something here for you. Check out the series to date (which includes some skills-focused past posts) in the Research skills category.

Discovering disparages: Using the Resource Centre to uncover BME experiences in the criminal justice system

The final post in our Race and Crime series comes from Shu Chee: A guideline for students researching disparages in sentencing, and how the Race Relations Resource Centre’s Criminal Justice collection can help.

Your task: Write an essay on the racial disparities in trial and sentencing.

So it’s assessment time again; you have organised your lecture notes, exploited Google Scholar and the Westlaw database, gone through dozens of journal articles…and yet you just can’t seem to begin writing. Why are all my readings all over the place? Do I have sufficient evidence supporting claims of ‘lighter skin, lighter sentence’? Are my sources reliable and relevant? Continue reading

Muslim hate crime and Islamophobia

The next post in our Race and Crime series is an introduction to Muslim hate crime from Natascha Wooliams and Katja Swinnock.

What is Islamphobia?

‘Hate crime’ is not limited to physical attacks, it includes a wide range of criminal activity from offensive graffiti, damage to property, harassment, intimidation and verbal abuse. Anti-Muslim hate crime falls under the category of ‘religious hate crime’, where the crime is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a prejudice against a person’s religion or perceived religion.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary the first recorded use of the term ‘Islamophobia’ was in an article in the journal ‘Insight’ on 4th February 1991 as an extension of the term ‘xenophobia’. ‘Islamophobia’ means a dread or hatred of Islam, which is extended to a fear and hate of all Muslims.

Emmanuel Huybrechts / Wikimedia Commons

Continue reading

Have you been stopped and searched?

In the third installment of our Race and Crime series Teeah Blake introduces the issues around disproportionate stop and search practices in the UK.

Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice. Recognise these names? Perhaps you would recognise their faces. They are just a few of the unarmed Black men who have been killed by police in the USA in recent years, and with the help of camera phones and Facebook live, we have been able to see these shootings as and when they happen. The media coverage of these events has been extensive and received by many, leading to the re-ignition of the Black Lives Matter Campaign (#BLM) with protests all over the USA, as well as here in the UK.

Courtesy of Imgur

This most violent type of racial discrimination is rarely seen in the UK. However, there is evidence of a persistent and damaging form of discrimination against ethnic minorities by police officers in the form of disproportionate stop and search.

Image courtesy Chris White (www.flickr.com/photos/76345608@N00)

Continue reading

10 things you didn’t know about the stop and search of minority ethnic groups

The next post in our Race and Crime series comes from Holly Khambatta-Higgins and Robyn Moor.

Although most of us are aware that the police carry out stop and searches, few of us will have first-hand experience of the process. This means we’re basing our understanding of stop and search on television, newspapers and other pieces of media, which don’t always give the full picture. Luckily, the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre has a great selection of resources, making it easy to learn more about the nature of stop and searches on minority ethnic groups.

Image courtesy Darren Johnson http://www.flickr.com/photos/idarrenj/

Based on our research at the Resource Centre we’ve created a list of the top 10 things you didn’t know about stop and search: Continue reading