You may remember I invited us all on a journey From Jamaica to Englanda little while ago. We were accompanied by a whole range of individuals, learning about their experiences of migration as preserved in primary and secondary sources you can find right here in the Centre.
Educated and uneducated, men and women, Black and ‘middle-class brown’ – each had something significant to tell us about the hardships involved in giving up their homeland to travel across the seas to what you’d think might be a better future…
Well, I was reminded of our journey back in August as I leafed through some obituaries over breakfast. Now, what’s so good about obituaries? Not a lot, you’d think, given that their purpose is to tell all and sundry that yet another person has died. Whilst that might not be the best news we’ll ever hear, I have to say I’ve always found obituaries fascinating. As a kind of secondary source, sometimes they open up a window into a different world, a different era – just enough to spur us on to find out a little bit more.
And that’s what happened to me whilst I was eating my cornflakes, and I’d like to share that experience with you…
When we travelled from Jamaica to England, there was one community from which we heard nothing directly, although despite it’s small size, it has influenced the lives of everyone who’s ever called Jamaica home. Which community was that? The white community. This fact struck me like a bolt from the blue as I realised I’d begun to read the obituary of a white Jamaican who died aged 104 – Blanche Blackwell.
Libby Turner, a recent English and American Studies graduate from the University of Manchester, reflects on our recent Hip Hop, Spoken Word and the Library event. (We’ll be posting more about the Hip Hop Collection project next week…)
‘Hip Hop, Spoken Word and the Library – Transcending Borders? Reflections on a Decade of Grime and Young Identity’, brought together Hip Hop and Grime scholars, poets, radio professionals and talented young people for an evening of discussion and performance.
The event marks the launch of a brand new resource at the Central library Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre – one that focuses on the themes of hip hop, grime, spoken word, education and social justice. Continue reading →
Another interesting piece from theracetoread blog. This BAME young adult literature timeline highlights some of the key national race related events of the 1980s and 90s, including the founding of our Education Trust!
This week’s blog continues the history of Black and BAME British YA literature. 1981, the year that starts the second half of the timeline, is significant for YA literature. The end of what scholar Anthony DiGesare calls “the long 1970s”, a period when race was the focus for both Black and white Britons from Enoch Powell to future Guardian prize-winner Alex Wheatle, 1981 saw the Brixton Riots bring institutional racism into the spotlight for the first—but by no means the last—time.
YA novelist Alex Wheatle was among the people who experienced the Brixton Riot of 1981.
1981: The Brixton riots erupt as a response to the perceived racist attitudes of police against the Black British community. West Indian Children in our Schools, a government report authored by Anthony Rampton, calls for mainstream literature to better represent the increasingly diverse cultures of Britain. The Rampton report was written in response…
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.
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:
First stop – subject area resource lists
Main databases to build a relevant list of Centre resources
Getting hold of the material
Other databases, research aids and links to related collections
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:
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.
The Whitworth, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M15 6ER
On view until 19 November 2017
As promised, my next review of The Whitworth’s summer exhibitions explores the art of London-based artist Raqib Shaw. His gloriously opulent exhibition is part of the South Asia art and culture programme that marks the 70th anniversary of Partition. The programme is part of the work of the New North & South network which involves ten North of England organisations.
The exhibition is co-curated by Dr Maria Balshaw, Director of Tate, Diana Campbell Betancourt, Director of Dhaka Art Summit and the artist himself.
Some key facts about Raqib Shaw:
Shaw was born in Calcutta and grew up in Kashmir, which he describes as a very beautiful place etched on his memory.
His family are involved in textiles.
Originally he wanted to be a teacher of English literature.
He is totally devoted to his art and lives for his work.
His Peckham studio doubles as his home and is filled with beautiful objects and trailing plants.
The interior of the first main gallery at The Whitworth is transformed, and now has the feel of an exclusive boudoir-style club. Shaw’s newly commissioned wallpaper covers every wall, dark both in colour and theme (it’s available to buy in The Whitworth shop as a limited edition). It is called ‘After A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ (see below) and features phantasmagorical beings intertwined with braided creepers and branches over a background the colour of lapis lazuli.
Last week Jennie (our Projects Manager) and myself presented at the Archives and Records Association (ARA) conference, here in Manchester. Our paper was called:
Telling the Whole Story: Community partnerships and collection development in the Legacy of Ahmed project
We’ve been thinking a lot recently about the way we work, as an organisation that undertakes both outreach projects and heritage collection work*. Not only do we give equal weight to these areas of our work, the two have a symbiotic relationship: The outputs of community and schools-based projects (such as oral history interviews, teaching resources, donated ephemera, creative works and publications) are accessioned into the library and archive collections**, ensuring that community voices are preserved for the long-term, but also building a bank of resources to support ongoing outreach work – both our own and other people’s.
It’s the reason we call ourselves a ‘resource centre’ rather than an archive or library; our collections have always been intended to have contemporary, active and practical purposes. Continue reading →
The Whitworth, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M15 6ER
This exhibition was on view until 23rd July 2017.
The Whitworth has some fantastic exhibitions on over the summer, I’m especially excited to see the gallery’s contribution to the New North and South programme, bringing the work of South Asian artists to prominence. But before I talk about the current exhibitions (watch this space next week) I want to reflect on another piece we saw there recently that had a profound effect on me: Vertigo Sea, a three-screen film installation by the artist, filmmaker and founder member of Black Audio Film Collective John Akomfrah.