Raqib Shaw at The Whitworth

By Jo Manby

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.

After A Midsummer Night’s Dream

After A Midsummer Night’s Dream, © Raqib Shaw and The Whitworth, The University of Manchester

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Project-Based Collecting: Telling the whole story at the ARA conference

By Hannah

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

ARA_presentation_with notes_HN.jpg

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

Vertigo Sea by John Akomfrah at The Whitworth

By Jo Manby

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.

the image shows three large cinema screens in a row in a dark room, each showing different images, one shows a boat on a rough sea, one shows a misty forest, one shows a burning forest

John Akomfrah, Vertigo Sea, 2015. ©Smoking Dog Films. Courtesy Lisson Gallery

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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

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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)

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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

The O.J. Simpson case: The racial divide underlying the ‘trial of the century’

For the first post in our Race and Crime series, Shu Chee provides a short commentary and personal afterthought on Walter L. Hixson’s Black and White: The O. J. Simpson Case (1995) found in Annette Gordon-Reed’s ‘Race on Trial’.

In Harper’s well-acclaimed To Kill A Mockingbird, Tom was treated as a second-class citizen and received an unfair trial after being accused of raping a white woman. Despite significant evidence proving his innocence, he was convicted, based largely on his skin colour. Although it is an overstatement to say that Tom is the fictional equivalent of the average, working-class African American defendant, it is undeniable that some institutionalised racism and disparities in sentencing do exist in real life.

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From Manchester to Belarus

Julie met Frank Pleszak at Polish Heritage Day back in May, and was fascinated to hear about the hidden histories he has uncovered, whilst researching his father’s experiences as a Polish refugee in the Second World War. Here he talks about his family, his research and his ongoing relationship with his father’s land.

I was born in Manchester and have lived and worked here all my life. I’m proud to be a Mancunian. I love it when people ask me where I’m from and I can say Manchester.

But my surname clearly isn’t local. My mum was from Salford but my dad, who died in 1994, was Polish. He never spoke much about his early life, I know he’d fought in Italy at the famous battle of Monte Cassino but it wasn’t until after his death that I began to think about why he was here in Manchester, why he’d been in Italy, and why he hadn’t gone back home to Poland after the war. I had no idea of the monumental series of events, together with World War Two, that had created me a Mancunian.

At the house my dad lived in until his arrest in 1939

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The FBI’s most wanted woman, a former Black Panther who survived it all – Book review

Have you caught the dramatisation of Assata Shakur’s autobiography on Radio 4 this week? In a coincidence of timing the book has also made it to the top of Jo Manby’s review pile!

Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur. First published in the UK by Zed Books Ltd, London (1988). This edition Lawrence Hill Books (an imprint of Chicago Review Press, Incorporated): Chicago, Illinois, 2014

Assata Shakur is the FBI’s most wanted woman. Since 1979 has lived in Cuba as a fugitive after being granted asylum there following her escape from prison. She is also a founding member of the Black Liberation Army and godmother of Tupac Shakur. This autobiography tells the story of the circumstances that brought her to her present day situation.

the picture shows a book on a table. The book cover has a young black woman's face in profile, with a red target on her face. The title is Assata: An Autobiography Continue reading

Bending the Rules: Archiving the Manchester BME Communities collection

Our freelance archivist Heather Roberts has been working her magic on our large, and until now slightly unwieldy, Manchester Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Communities collection. Here she reflects on the process and reveals some of the thinking behind her work:

Arranging the Manchester BME Communities collection was an interesting adventure in flexing the rules. As well as deciding what to keep and what not to keep, organising the remaining material was a bit tricky.

the picture shows a row of archive files with colourful papers sticking out of the sides. the label reads 'refugees and immigration'

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Kotha and Kantha

“The names for the project have specific meaning in Bengali. We used Kotha & Kantha to imply ‘stitches and lines’, referring to embroidery and writing.”

The embroidery from our Kotha and Kantha project is coming to the end of it’s exhibition tour around Manchester, and is currently on display in Manchester Metropolitan University’s All Saints Library. Re-blogged from MMU Special Collections blog, here is Jo’s summary of the project:

Special Collections

Currently on display in our ground floor Spotlight Gallery is a small exhibition of traditional Bangladeshi embroidery. It was produced last year by a group of ten women who participated in the project Kotha & Kantha: Bangladeshi Women’s Memoir held at Manchester Central Library and run by the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Education Trust and Centre (AIUC). Project Administrator Jo Manby explains more about the project and what it set out to achieve.

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What is the City but the People? Manchester, Children’s Literature, and the World

“The Archives+ project, like the folktale project, promotes the idea that everyone’s story matters, and that stories of the city are for everyone.”

A very thoughtful/thought-provoking piece on theracetoread blog, following a visit to the Resource Centre and Central Library last week from a group of summer school students studying ‘Race, Literature and the Archive’. Makes a lovely connection between our children’s book projects and our wider role as part of the Archives+ partnership.

theracetoread

Last week I took my MA students to Manchester.  Officially, they are on a course I designed called Race, Literature and the Archive—but students don’t come on Summer Abroad Courses just for extra library time (shock horror).  Many of them were particularly interested in Manchester because of the recent terrorist attack on the Manchester Arena during the Ariana Grande concert in which 22 (mostly young) people were killed.  We had discussed the diversity in Manchester prior to coming to England, and they wanted to know how the city was handling the attack.  I have, of course, been to Manchester several times, and knew exactly how Manchester would be handling it—but I was pleased to see signs all over the city advertising the Manchester International Festival (currently in progress).  They said, simply, What is the City but the People?

IMG_3402.JPGThis sign was everywhere in the city–and sometimes it even mentioned the…

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Historians count…

Image of a pair of glasses on a book

The Roving Reader Files

 

I’ve previously raised a cheer for those individuals who do all the donkey work so the likes of you and me can put our feet up reading books by people about other people – writers of biographies and secondary sources. Well, the other day I was struck by a monumental question: what on earth motivates them?

Rummaging around in the Centre, I unearthed Historians and Race. Autobiography and the Writing of History (published 1996). Would this help me find the answer?

Image of Historians and Race book cover Continue reading

Pages to light the dark paths to freedom of ‘a thousand Maria’s’ – Book review

Jo Manby

A Different Kind of Daughter – The Girl who Hid from the Taliban in Plain Sight
by Maria Toorpakai with Katharine Holstein. First published in the UK by Bluebird (2016). This edition Bluebird (an imprint of Pan Macmillan): London, 2017

Maria Toorpakai is Pakistan’s number one female squash player, and is a professional player now living in Canada. This autobiography follows her journey.

image show the book cover, showing a girl holding a scraf blowing in the wind, silhouetted against a sunsetIn her prologue, Maria says ‘I needed to be outside, under the open sky and running free.’ However, born and brought up in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), specifically Waziristan, in Pakistan, this kind of behaviour was forbidden by tribal law. Even more punitive and suffocating were the edicts of the Taliban, which began to invade people’s lives in this conflicted area and beyond during Maria’s childhood and teens.

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Wednesday Finds: Moss Side News

By Hannah Niblett

In the process of pulling together some exhibition material for the Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity’s (CoDE) conference next month (‘Documenting, understanding and addressing ethnic inequalities’) I’ve got completely sidetracked by something in the archive…

Moss Side News Issue 6, September 1969

We have 17 issues of the local community newspaper Moss Side News from 1969 – 1978. They’re not in good condition (so I sadly won’t be taking them to the CoDE conference) but they are fascinating reads, revealing the burning issues of the time, namely housing (‘slum’ clearances were taking place), space for children to play and generally defending Moss Side against the bad press it got in the more mainstream local media.

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Daniella Carrington: My placement at the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre & Education Trust

Here are Daniella’s final reflections on her museum studies work placement with us. We’re pleased she gained so much from the experience, and she has been a real asset to us over the past five months. Student placements are a great way for us to bring in new ideas and fresh insights, especially when, like Daniella, students have professional as well as academic knowledge and experience to contribute.

Thankfully we’re not saying goodbye to Daniella just yet – she’ll be staying with us on a voluntary basis throughout the summer to continue her work documenting and promoting the Coming in from the Cold project.

Institute for Cultural Practices

I chose the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre and Education Trust for my placement, before even starting the MA Art Gallery and Museum Studies (AGMS) programme. In the first couple of weeks of September 2016, I met the Director, Jacqueline Ould, and a few staff members at a talk they hosted alongside the Black Cultural Archives. I immediately liked their work, which reminded me of what I do home in Trinidad and Tobago, at the Culture Division. Right there, I knew the Centre and Trust was the place for me!

Photo for Blog Post 01-02-2017 A photograph of me taken by my supervisor Hannah Niblett

The Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre and Education Trust are two organisations with a common goal; to capture the life stories of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities in Manchester. They are named after Ahmed Iqbal Ullah, a Bangladeshi boy who lost his life defending a…

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Voices of Kosovo in Manchester… and in Kosovo

The welcome was magnificent, unexplainable. Not just our first steps off the plane at Manchester Airport, but also the processing of all the refugees. And yes, it’s true, the English removed the rags of oppression and truly brought smiles for the first time to our kids’ faces – our kids, who had seen nothing but violence, burnings and killing.

Bedri Hyseni, Voices of Kosovo in Manchester archive

Oral histories are a significant feature of our collection. We currently have in the region of 400 interviews covering a range of experiences, from the life stories of Windrush immigrants to recollections of the 1945 Pan-African Congress.

image shows a bunch of yellow flowers, a large blue book with 'voices of kosovo in manchester on the cover and a photograph of a woman, displayed on a table

Image courtesy Manchester Aid to Kosovo

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‘White Fawn’ and the lost history of James Young Deer

Image of a pair of glasses on a book

The Roving Reader Files

 

People disappear from history all the time. No written records, no treasured belongings handed down as heirlooms, no-one still around to remember… There are lots of reasons. But one of the most successful film-makers of his era? That’s unusual…

Take a look at this:

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Celebrating Polish Heritage Day

We celebrated Polish Heritage Day on Saturday. Julie Devonald (our Project Manager) reflects on the experience.

I was delighted to support Eva Szegidewicz and the Kresy Family Polish WWII History Group, hosting celebrations for the UK’s first ever Polish Heritage Day here at Manchester Central Library. This annual celebration has been established by the Polish ambassador to the UK, as a way for the 980,000 Poles living the Britain to celebrate and share their rich heritage with the rest of the country. Continue reading

Critiquing the Trappings of Power – the work of Samuel Fosso

Jo Manby has taken a break from reviewing books to find out about self-portrait artist Samuel Fosso.

On a recent city break in Paris, we came across the privately run Galerie Jean Marc Patras. It was a cold February morning in the Marais – an area known for its arts and culture – just down the way from the Picasso Museum. In the windows of the gallery were two imposing works from Samuel Fosso’s Emperor of Africa series. These showed the artist gazing into an indeterminate, glorious distance, his face made up to represent the Chinese leader Mao Zedong, his figure dressed in Mao Zedong’s uniform-styled outfits.

Samuel Fosso Autoportrait, “Emperor of Africa” series 2013
© Samuel Fosso
Courtesy Jean Marc Patras / Paris

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‘Humpty Dumpty’, Ahmed Kathrada, and the death of a conscience…

Image of a pair of glasses on a book

The Roving Reader Files

 

It may not have felt like it at the time, but on 28th March this year we all lost something special. No, I don’t mean our wallets or our smart phones. What we lost was something even more important – a bit of global conscience. What do I mean? It was the day South African veteran of the anti-apartheid struggle Ahmed Kathrada died, aged 86.

Ahmed Kathrada may not be a name you’re very familiar with. Yet even as a youth this man had stood shoulder to shoulder with Nelson Mandela and other great anti-apartheid leaders right from the beginning of the campaign against the consolidating apartheid state in the 1940s. He was also with Mandela throughout his long incarceration.

Ahmed Kathrada

Ahmed Kathrada in 2016. Source: Wikimedia Commons

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Digging Deep and Unexpected Finds

For the first phase of our HLF-supported Coming in from the Cold project (#ComingIn) the project team are visiting Greater Manchester archives and collections to map out BME-related material held in the region. Here Jennie highlights an interesting find at Wigan and Leigh Archives.

Check out the project blog for more about the project and subscribe for updates!

Coming in from the Cold

DSC_0499 Photo of Jennifer viewing publication, taken by Daniella Carrington

In order to gather research for Coming in from the Cold, Marzuqa and I have been contacting representatives from cultural and heritage organisations across Greater Manchester. Some have responded to a questionnaire by post or by email, providing background information on lists of projects we have already identified. Others have met us in person, to tell us about further initiatives we have missed, or to discuss issues with their service which may have impacted on delivery. We’ve also been trying to assess the scope of BME-related material in historic collections, in the hope that some items may inspire further project work.

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Family Ties – The Adamah Project exhibition

We’re excited to be hosting a new exhibition here in Manchester Central Library: Family Ties – The Adamah Papers Project. Last Thursday was the exhibition launch; a large audience, delicious African cuisine, thought-provoking speakers and lively conversation.

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Go Home? Book launch

Last week, along with our colleagues at the Manchester University Press, we hosted a large audience for the launch of the newly published book Go Home? The politics of immigration controversies.

Photograph by Daniella Carrington

Photograph by Daniella Carrington

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Exploring archives and ‘Coming in from the Cold’

By Daniella Carrington

For the month of March, my placement duties have shifted focus, from collections to project work. I am assisting with the documentation of ‘Coming in from the Cold‘, the latest project of the Centre’s sister organisation, the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust. I get to do photography, which I always enjoy, and practise blogging, my current interest.

The project team had the idea of using a blog to provide updates and insights into the ‘Coming in from the Cold’ project. I was given creative liberties to revitalise an existing blog for the project. In coming up with a concept, I explored the archives at the Centre for visual content and inspiration. The Senior Library Assistant, Ruth Tait, at one point became an impromptu model while I photographed the Ann Adeyemi collection (more on the blog about Ann Adeyemi here). Listening to Ruth talk about the people and history within the collection, showed her knowledge but also her working relationship with the archives.

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10 steps to binding a book: A lesson in conservation

By Daniella Carrington

As part of my placement, I got a half day to learn about preservation techniques, by getting hands on experience in book binding. Leading the lesson was Nic Rayner, Conservation Officer at Archives+ – the archive partnership the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre is a part of. Nic assists the Centre by assessing the condition of new archival material acquired, and in general advises on preservation.

Getting into the book binding process. Photo taken by Hannah Landsman.

Getting into the book binding process. Photo taken by Hannah Landsman.

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New research: Sikh activism and race relations organisations in Britain

It’s always gratifying to see our collections contributing to academic research and new publications.

Gyani Sundar Singh Sagar, who fought for turban-wearing Sikh men to be exempt from the law regarding motorcycle helmets. Image courtesy of Ujjal Singh

Gyani Sundar Singh Sagar, who fought for turban-wearing Sikh men to be exempt from the law regarding motorcycle helmets. Image courtesy of Ujjal Singh

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Finding my place at the Centre

We’re delighted to have Daniella Carrington, a postgraduate Museum Studies student, working with us over the next few months as Collections and Projects Assistant. She comes to us through the Institute for Cultural Practices placement scheme, University of Manchester, and we’re already making full use of her skills and knowledge. Here she reflects on her first month in post…

It has been (technically) one month since I began a work placement at the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre. How time flies! Learning about this rather special place, how they were founded, and the kind of needful work they do, has been an enriching experience so far. I got to know the staff both personally and professionally, peruse the library, and even get an up close look at the archive to understand the scope of work at the Centre and its sister organisation the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust.

In the library. Photo taken by Hannah Niblett of the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre

In the library. Photo taken by Hannah Niblett of the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre

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Archiving our US Civil Rights material

Documentation Assistant Carly Morel is currently pulling together various bits of American Civil Rights material to create a new open-ended archive collection. She highlights a couple of interesting items for us:

With US politics so much in the headlines at the moment, I thought, what better time to tackle our US Civil Rights material?

image of four old civil rights journals Continue reading

Southern Voices at the symposium: A Silk Road of Knowledge?

Image of a pair of glasses on a book

The Roving Reader Files

Did you know that once the historic centre of Salford boasted one end of the longest railway platform in the world? Were you aware that we could all have been sauntering along an elevated walkway stretching from the University of Manchester right down Oxford Road to the heart of the city? Or even that our universities are part of what might be called a ‘Silk Road of Knowledge’?

No, neither was I… Not until a few weeks ago, when I spent a day at the University of Manchester, riveted to every word uttered by several enthusiastic academics chewing over Mapping the Historical Geographies of Higher Education in Greater Manchester. Yes, I do sometimes break out from among the Centre’s bookshelves, and on this occasion I was listening to talk after talk, as well as enjoying numerous question and answer sessions. You’ve guessed it, I was attending a symposium!

Symposium flyer. Click for a larger view

Symposium flyer. Click for a larger view

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From Symarons, Maroons and Iberian Africans to the African Ink Road – Book Review

This review is adapted from an original piece published in the Centre’s journal Ethnicity and Race in a Changing World.

Book review: Blackamoores: Africans in Tudor England, their Presence, Status and Origins, Onyeka (Narrative Eye and the Circle with a Dot, 2013)

Review by Jo Manby

In Blackamoores Onyeka presents the results of exhaustive research, which challenges accepted British history and allows Black, or African, people living in Tudor times to take their place in our country’s historic social fabric.

Image of the book front cover Continue reading

Legacy of Ahmed project: Anti-racism posters

Over the past 18 months we, through our Education Trust, have been working on our HLF funded Legacy of Ahmed project. The project is now drawing to a close and I’ll be sharing some of the outputs on here over the next few weeks. First up, these wonderful anti-racism posters created by young people from our project partner Ananna: Manchester Bangladeshi Women’s Organisation.

A finished piece

A finished piece

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The Manchester Refugee Support Network archive: A right to history

You might think there is something contradictory about a refugee archive: archives are the permanent repositories of physical history, whilst refugees are transitory and homeless – those who have lost their history.

But the archive of the Manchester Refugee Support Network (MRSN), recently deposited with us following completion of a major heritage project, challenges this assumption. Not least in the sheer amount of material; 12 boxes of physical material and more than 30,000 digital files, charting the 20 year history of this remarkable organisation. From governance, services and partnerships to cultural programmes (such as the Refugee World Cup and Manchester Refugee Cultural Festival), campaigning activities and the many community organisations that made up the network.

photograph of archive items in a display case, including Manchester Refugee Cultural Festival brochure and te How to set up a Refugee Organisation guidebookBuilding this archive and depositing it with us, here at Central Library, creates permanence and acceptance, carving out a place in history for Manchester’s many refugee communities. Continue reading

Book Review: Jimi Hendrix – Soundscapes

Book review: Jimi Hendrix – Soundscapes by Marie-Paule Macdonald (Reaktion Books Ltd: London, 2016)

Review by Jo Manby

Marie-Paule Macdonald’s electrifying study of Jimi Hendrix charts the experiential and musical trajectory through his tragically short life. It also seeks to pin down which elements contributed to his innovative power as the pre-eminent pioneer of electric guitar playing.

The image shows a book cover, jimi hendrix on stage playing the guitar Continue reading

Book Review: Streetsmart Schoolsmart

This review is adapted from an original piece published in the Centre’s journal Ethnicity and Race in a Changing World.

Book review: Streetsmart Schoolsmart: Urban Poverty and the Education of Adolescent Boys by Gilberto Q. Conchas & James Diego Vigil (Teachers College Press, Columbia University: New York and London 2012)

Review by Jo Manby

This is one of the books you find on the shelves of AIU Centre that starts out as an academic study but offers up so much more in the reading of it – a real insight into the potential for social change within the American education system and into the real life issues that affect young people there.

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Starting a discussion about self-archiving political movements and the international left

An interesting post from Hatful Of History on activist archives and digitisation, with some interesting comments. These are issues that we’re tussling with here at the Resource Centre, as we look at how we can make our holdings more accessible, whilst managing issues around copyright and political and personal sensitivities…

Hatful of History

I have been in discussions with various people over the last few months about how movements ‘remember’ themselves and how they engage with their ephemeral history. I am interested in how these movements have often self-archived their materials and what they have done with these materials – are they open to researchers and people interested interested in the history of these movements? Some organisations and movements (as well as certain individuals) have donated their historical papers to various university archives or museums. These are valuable to researchers, but still privilege those who can gain access – usually academics and independent researchers who can afford to do archival research on site.

However some organisations and enterprising researchers are overcoming these obstacles by scanning and digitising the materials of the various progressive and left-wing movements across the Anglophone world. Sites such as the Marxist Internet Archive have been scanning many American, Canadian…

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Archival Invisibility and the Black British Soldiers of WWI

We’re extremely excited that author Ray Costello will be joining us to talk about his historical research into Liverpool, Black soldiers and Black sailors later this month as part of our Black History Month programme (tickets still available if you’d like to join us, free but please do book via Eventbrite so we know you’re coming: ray-costello.eventbrite.co.uk). Jo has been taking a look at his most recent book Black Tommies.

Black Tommies book cover Continue reading

Pictorial Pan-Africanism and Apartheid

Image of a pair of glasses on a book

The Roving Reader Files

 

Many of us may not be aware of some basic facts and trends in history. Who can know it all? Certainly not me. But all is not lost. From time to time I come across fascinating books in the Centre that really help me out.

Take ‘Pan-Africanism’ and ‘apartheid’. These words are bounced around everywhere like tennis balls at Wimbledon. But do most of us really understand the concepts and worldviews they represent? Poring over a couple of illustrated beginners’ guides, I began to get a clearer idea. And do you know what? The illustrations made it a whole lot easier.

photograph of black and white illustrations inside the book Continue reading

Book Review: Moving in the Shadows

This review is adapted from an original piece published in the Centre’s journal Ethnicity and Race in a Changing World.

Book review: Moving in the Shadows: Violence in the Lives of Minority Women and Children, edited by Yasmin Rehman, Liz Kelly and Hannana Siddiqui (Ashgate: Farnham, Surrey & Burlington, Vermont 2013)

Review by Jo Manby

Yasmin Rehman, a doctoral candidate at the School of Oriental and African Studies specialising in polygyny and English law; Liz Kelly, Professor of Sexualised Violence at London Metropolitan University and Director of the Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit (CWASU), and Hannana Siddiqui, who has worked at Southall Black Sisters for 25 years, bring together here contributions from a range of academics, activists and practitioners, examining for the first time in one volume violence against women and children within UK minority communities.

The book is divided into three parts:

  • Perspectives
  • Forms and Contexts of Violence
  • Interventions and Responses

It seeks to ‘explore both commonalities and differences in the lives of minority women – in the forms of violence they experience, their meanings and consequences’ (p.9). Continue reading

Fanteland and the Coastal Coalition

To mark International Slavery Day (23rd August), Jo Manby reviews:

The Fante and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, by Rebecca Shumway (University of Rochester Press: Rochester, NY & Woodbridge, Suffolk 2011) (Reprinted 2014)

The Fante and the Transatlantic Slave Trade diverges from previous accounts of the relationship between Fante political history and the Atlantic slave trade, which have tended to focus on and to amalgamate Akan ancestry; the period of the gold trade (fifteenth to seventeenth century); or the era of British colonial rule, within the context of Ghana’s Gold Coast.

Instead, the focus here is on the development of ‘Fanteland’, a location of specific language and culture, the eighteenth-century political unification of Ghana’s coastal people, and the creation of a coalition government, which Shumway refers to as the Coastal Coalition.
Photograph of Fante and the Transatlantic Slave Trade cover Continue reading

Hidden Depths: The Institute of Race Relations Newspaper Clippings Collection

We’ve recently done a little conservation and access work on our Institute of Race Relations (IRR) Newspaper Clippings collection. It really is one of the gems of our archive – a vast collection of race-related stories from provincial UK newspapers, covering the short but intense period of September 1977 to April 1984.

The collection has been in need of some TLC for a while. It takes up 49 lever arch files, in varying states of dilapidation. We’ve only been able to replace the ones that were most severely falling apart, but we’ve also relocated a whole box of orphaned pages and moved the more fragile sheets to separate storage. With the detailed content summaries we now have for each folder, this is starting to feel like a much more accessible collection, ready to have its hidden depths explored by intrepid researchers….

Picture1 Continue reading

Kotha & Kantha: Bangladeshi Women’s Memoir Project

By Jo Manby, Project Administrator

Kotha & Kantha: Bangladeshi Women’s Memoir Project (BWMP) funded by the National Lottery through Arts Council England – Grants for the Arts Award, and the Education Trust, and supported by the Longsight-based Manchester Bangladeshi Women’s Organisation Ananna, and Archives+, began in April this year. Right now, we are tying up the evaluation and the final details of the project as the summer progresses, giving us time to reflect on the impact it has had already.

“I have learned to sew and write stories and poems and enjoyed photography.”

The Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust. Kotha and Kantha: Bangladeshi Women’s Memoir Project Picture: Jason Lock Full credit always required as stated in T&C's. Specified release use only, no further reproduction without prior permission. Picture © Jason Lock Photography +44 (0) 7889 152747 +44 (0) 161 431 4012 info@jasonlock.co.uk www.jasonlock.co.uk

The Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust. Kotha and Kantha: Bangladeshi Women’s Memoir Project
Picture: Jason Lock
Full credit always required as stated in T&C’s. Specified release use only, no further reproduction without prior permission.
Picture © Jason Lock Photography
+44 (0) 7889 152747
+44 (0) 161 431 4012
info@jasonlock.co.uk
http://www.jasonlock.co.uk

We decided to work with the Bangladeshi community because 2016 marks the 30th anniversary of the death of Ahmed Iqbal Ullah, the Bangladeshi boy murdered in the playground of a local Manchester school, and in whose memory our Trust and Centre are named. We are also carrying out an HLF project ‘The Legacy of Ahmed’, collecting oral histories. The Kotha & Kantha project has complemented and enhanced the HLF project and the artistic outputs of the women’s work will be showcased at a larger celebration event for this project, and be included in an exhibition in the Community Exhibition space in Central Library.
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Book Review: Fire in the Ashes

This review is adapted from an original piece published in the Centre’s journal Ethnicity and Race in a Changing World.

Book review: Fire in the Ashes: Twenty-Five Years Among the Poorest Children in America by Jonathan Kozol (Crown Publishers: New York 2012)

Review by Jo Manby

This book is evidence of the kind of enduring, personal relationship that an ethnographer or documentarist can build up within a community if they invest their time and open their hearts to those around them.

Jonathan Kozol has been working with children in inner-city schools in the United States for almost fifty years. Over several years, he has been in conversation with a group of children from one of its poorest urban neighbourhoods. He begins his story – the story of these children – with a picture of New York City’s poor and homeless people on Christmas Eve 1985, thousands of them ‘packed into decrepit, drug-infested shelters, most of which were old hotels situated in the middle of Manhattan’ (p.3). Continue reading

Hulme and the Nightmare Scenario

Image of a pair of glasses on a book

The Roving Reader Files

 

We all have our dreams. But what if they turn into nightmares?

Take the Hugh Wilson and Lewis Womersley firm of chartered architects and town planners. In the 1960s they dreamt of solving the problems of twentieth-century living by providing quality design and housing to a level reached in the eighteenth century for Bloomsbury and Bath. By using similar shapes and proportions, large scale building groups and open spaces, plus skilful landscaping and extensive tree planting, they hoped to make their dream reality. Where? Don’t laugh when I tell you. Hulme in Manchester.

Yes, Hulme was to be the setting for pioneering brave new town planning. The slums were to be cleared and in their place would arise beauty. There was just one problem. The designers’ dream became the Hulme residents’ nightmare scenario. Leafing through the Centre’s Hulme Study Collection, I came across Wilson and Womersley’s hopeful musings on the cover of Manchester City Council’s Survey Report  Hulme. A Position Statement September, 1987.

Photograph of an archive box containing Hulme reportsClose up of Hulme report, with a statement architecturally comparing Hulme with Georgian London and Bath Continue reading

Voices of the Black Panthers Book Reviews #2

Book Review: The Black Panthers Speak, Edited by Philip S. Foner, new Foreword by Barbara Ransby (Haymarket Books: Chicago 2014)
(first published by J.B. Lippincott Company: Philadelphia & New York, 1970)

Review by Jo Manby

The Black Panthers Speak is a bibliographic archive of correspondence, news, rules, speeches and poems – the documents that underpinned the fabric of the Black Panther Party’s (BPP) organisation.

The 2014 republishing of The Black Panthers Speak, an essential documentary history of the BPP, is indeed timely. Compiled and edited by Philip S. Foner (1910-1994), this is a new edition with an updated foreword by the writer, historian and political activist Barbara Ransby. When first published in 1970, the volume sought to counter the many misinterpretations that the BPP was subject to.

close up image of the book title

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Voices of the Black Panthers Book Reviews #1

Book Review: My People are Rising: Memoir of a Black Panther Party Captain by Aaron Dixon (Haymarket Books: Chicago 2012)

Review by Jo Manby

Despite the presence of a Black president in the White House, America persists in incarcerating unprecedented numbers of Black and ethnic minority males. The Sentencing Project states that ‘for Black males in their thirties, 1 in every 10 is in prison or jail on any given day’. This autobiographical work, My People are Rising: Memoir of a Black Panther Party Captain reminds us of the issues the Black Panther Party (BPP) stood for, most of which, including this and other racial injustices, remain unresolved today. Aaron Dixon gives us a first-hand account of the BPP’s history.

book cover Continue reading

Southern Voices Project Archive Collection – Part 1

By Jo Manby

The Southern Voices (SV) archive collection relates to the establishment and development of the Manchester based organisation Southern Voices, founded in 1990 and originally named the Southern Voices Project. Southern Voices is still running; however, the AIU Centre archive holding runs up until the year 2009.

Image of Southern Voices logo

Courtesy Southern Voices

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The Crucial Hours: The Stephen Lawrence Newspaper Cuttings Collection – Part 2

By Jo Manby

This is the second post in the two-part series which aims to give an overview of the contents of the Stephen Lawrence Newspaper Cuttings archive collection, gathered together over the decades by AIUC founding director, Louis Kushnick, and now being made available for reference by researchers and members of the public.

The first post looked at the first three of six themes running through the collection (The Metropolitan Police, the Lawrence family and the Macpherson Report). This second post looks at the community reaction, the perpetrators and the criminal justice system.

Montage of newspaper clippings

Clippings from 1999

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The Crucial Hours: The Stephen Lawrence Newspaper Cuttings Collection – Part I

By Jo Manby

24 years ago this week Stephen Lawrence was stabbed to death at the age of 18 by a gang of white youths, in an unprovoked racist attack at a bus stop in Eltham, south east London. The date was April 22nd 1993. Two of his killers, Gary Dobson and David Norris, were only convicted (for life) in January 2012 for their part in the attack.

The same year, founding director of the AIU Centre, Louis Kushnick, began to collect press cuttings, mainly from the broadsheet newspapers, reporting on the case. As part of my job at the Centre I was responsible for archiving the collection.

Montage of newspaper clippings Continue reading

Documenting the Archive, Destroying the Magic?

It’s an experience most people who work in archives have had: you find a box of intriguing-looking papers at the back of the archive, but there’s no paperwork with it, nothing to identify what the material is or where it came from and no-one else in the organisation knows anything about it. So you put it back and forget about it.

photograph of the inside of our archve vault Continue reading

Book Review: Black Power TV

This review is adapted from an original piece published in the Centre’s journal Ethnicity and Race in a Changing World.

Book review: Black Power TV by Devorah Heitner (Duke University Press: Durham & London 2013)

Review by Jo Manby

A compelling and detailed chronicle of the way that a range of Black public affairs programmes arose within the history of American television during the period of the Black Power movement, this book examines four television shows in particular, both directly and indirectly funded by the (White) Ford Foundation, among other sources, and critical in allowing ‘the imagining of a Black nation and a distinctly African American consciousness’ (p.14).

book cover Continue reading

Gladys and the Native American Long Long Trail of Tears

Image of a pair of glasses on a book

The Roving Reader Files

 

Have you thought about your worldview recently? Do you believe deep down everyone everywhere should think like you? We’ve all done it. We know it causes arguments with our mums, best friends and partners. But what if we’re talking ‘worldview’ on a culture-to-culture global scale? What then?

Look at these images. Do they have anything in common?

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, via Wikimedia Commons

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, via Wikimedia Commons

Source: grendelkhan via Wikimedia Commons

Source: grendelkhan via Wikimedia Commons

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Book Review: Africa Speaks, America Answers

Review by Jo Manby, adapted from an original piece published in the Centre’s journal Ethnicity and Race in a Changing World.

Book review: Africa Speaks, America Answers: Modern Jazz in Revolutionary Times by Robin D. G. Kelly (Harvard University Press: Cambridge, Mass. and London, England 2012)

This four-part volume, hailed as a ‘collective biography’ and written by the author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original, vividly evokes the network of calls and responses across continents that linked modern jazz and Africa at a time of burgeoning revolutionary freedom – the 1950s and 60s.

Photo of book cover on shelf Continue reading

New Acquisition: The National Black Arts Alliance Library

Earlier this year we were lucky enough to acquire the library of the National Black Arts Alliance (NBAA, previously the BAA); an astonishingly large collection of high quality books and publications covering art, culture, history and literature, from Africa, South Asia, America, the Caribbean and the UK.  It’s an incredibly rich resource, which will add visual depth, colour and beauty to our library. Continue reading