Upon the launch of her latest book, Kwame Nkrumah and the Dawn of the Cold War, Marika Sherwood spoke yesterday on the topics of colonialism, communism and the importance of researching black history and activism at an event hosted by the AIU Centre. The talk was followed by an engaging Q&A and insightful discussion with members of the audience who shared Marika’s passion for research and black history.
Marika Sherwood speaking at Central Library 30/4/19
The majority of our archival material here at the AIU Centre relates to the UK, more specifically to Manchester, emphasising our focus on race relations within our local communities’ history and heritage. However, I have recently taken on the task of getting to grips with the ‘Lou Kushnick Interviews’, which are all the way across the Atlantic ocean from Manchester in their subject matter. While they may focus on US history rather than Manchester’s, there is one quite major connection between the interviews and our city. Lou Kushnick, the founder of The Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource centre, came to Manchester from the US in 1963 to study, and decided to stay. He became a lecturer in American Studies at the University of Manchester and these interviews formed part of his various research endeavours, conducted both in this city and back in the US. They now form part of our archive, and can be browsed along with Lou’s various papers and documents.
There are 95 interviews in total, each around an hour in length. Some span over multiple recordings, and some are shorter and straight to the point. The interviewees are mostly American politicians, academics, lawyers, union members and activists. If you are interested in US political and social history, or US racial inequality within housing, employment, education and welfare, the Lou Kushnick interviews will fascinate you. As a past student of American Studies myself, they certainly fascinated me.
Note-taking and brainstorming while listening to the Lou Kushnick Interviews
From my experience, using the Centre is like an adventure into the unknown in terms of the richness and quality of the resources at our disposal. Whilst it’s true navigating the databases to find material relevant to one’s particular area of interest can sometimes be tricky, that’s more than made up for in the quality of input and guidance provided by the staff tasked to make our time in the Centre both enjoyable and optimal.
I’m mindful of course that these may just be my own opinions. So I’ve been interested to find out whether other users agree with my assessment by checking out their feedback.* In this blog post, I’m sharing what I found with you.
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’.
British Mosque. Source: RPM (www.flickr.com/photos/rpmarks)
The Archives+ Digital Journalists have been delving into our oral history collections to learn about experiences of the Windrush Generation here in Manchester. Here’s an insight into the life of one of the many ordinary/extraordinary members of this generation; Euton Christian.
You can learn more about Mr Christian in the Roots Oral History Project collection and the Exploring our Roots Collection.
This year marks seventy years since the Empire Windrush set sail from the West Indies and docked in the UK on June 22nd 1948.
Originally sent to bring servicemen who were on leave from the British armed forces back to the UK, because of the size of the ship, hundreds of others were offered the chance to join them on board to fill up space, for a £28 fee. These men were attracted to the idea of life in Britain for a variety of reasons; including the high unemployment rate in Caribbean countries, and Britain being presented throughout the education system as the loving mother-country filled with opportunities.
The Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre in Manchester Central Library has an extensive collection of material relating to those who came over on the Windrush from the West Indies and settled in Manchester, including several oral history projects. It was…
I decided to speak about visual piety to two of the women in my research, Amber and Syrah, who both wore the hijab. Their friendship blossomed when they realised that they both shared a similar lifestyle and religious outlook. More importantly they share a love of fashion, and they exchanged ideas and tips with one another about how to combine style and modesty.
Muslim Fashion. Source: Shawn Sun (www.flickr.com/photos/abayatrade) (CC BY-SA 2.0)
It seemed a common assumption among the people I came across that studying my own society would be an easy task because of my familiarity in terms of language, customs and values. Many were also under the impression that people are more accommodating, open and trusting towards those who share a common background. These assumptions were greatly misleading. The fact of the matter was, in my case at least, that being a native anthropologist meant people were reticent about divulging information because of the fear of confidential information being leaked, leading to gossip in the community.
I began fieldwork in October 2012 in South Manchester which involved following the lives of a core group of twelve women over a period of fourteen months. These women became the participants in my study. Initially I had interviewed approximately 80 women, including friends and family of my participants, as well as other women who could not commit to participating because of longer periods of time involved.
Participating in my research gave the women an opportunity to express their views and concerns about issues such as prejudice and inequality, and to share their experiences of being middle-class British-Pakistanis in Manchester.
This is the first in a series of posts from Dr Noreen Mirza, sharing stories from her research into the experiences of middle class British-Pakistani women in Manchester. First, how her own formative experiences underpin her research.
Being a second-generation British-Pakistani and Muslim woman growing up in 1980s Manchester, in a predominantly white neighbourhood, I remember the deep desire to be the same as the other children I played with in my neighbourhood and at school. I was aware of the difference in my skin colour, heritage and religious background, as all the children I played with were white British Christians. The yearning to be the same stayed with me into my teenage years and later influenced the subject of my PhD thesis, on middle class British Pakistani women in Manchester.
As I embarked on my research, I felt that the image of British-Pakistanis in the media was a misrepresentation and not a true reflection of a lot of British-Pakistanis like myself. I wanted to explore class identity and show the diversity among British-Pakistanis. We are not a homogenous group and our experiences and upbringing has a profound impact in shaping who we are.
Noreen as a child and her mother. Courtesy Noreen Mirza
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.
Becki Kaur has recently submitted her PhD, which explores how professionals working in the domestic abuse sector understand, explain, and address ‘honour’-based violence. We’re excited to have her working with us on a six-month project to develop the library’s resources on this very important topic.
I’ve heard some people say that, by the time it gets to the end of their PhD, they’ve fallen out of love with their research topic. In this respect, I consider myself fortunate. Although the nature of my area of research – ‘honour’-based violence – is (to put it nicely) deeply unpleasant, I feel as passionate about raising awareness of the subject as I did when I started my research journey four years ago. So, when the opportunity arose to work with the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre (AIUC) to help develop ‘honour’-based violence-related resources, I didn’t have to be asked twice! Continue reading →
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:
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:
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:
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.
Nigel de Noronha has been our Researcher in Residence this year, working on the Tandana Collection; a large archive of material about the Asian Youth Movements (AYMs). Nigel was a member of the AYM in Manchester in the 1980s, so this project has been of personal as well as academic and professional interest for him. In this post he reflects on the process of re-engaging with his own personal history through working in the archive.
Asian Youth movements (AYMs) emerged spontaneously in Britain in the 1970s and 1980s. The AYM was active in anti-deportation campaigns in Manchester, connected to other AYMs and supported their campaigns against racist discrimination and racial violence. I joined AYM Manchester in 1982. We adopted a black political identity. Many young Asians witnessed racist and fascist violence, state discrimination from the police, schools, housing and immigration authorities, and discrimination in the labour market.
Three pounds of rice, four duck eggs, a pair of straw shoes, and a lonely trip over the mountains to 1940s Hong Kong. Long hours of labour in food outlets mushrooming on 1960s London high streets. What do these scenes have in common? The answer’s illiterate Chinese migrant Yue Kai Chung.
Get yourself a coffee and sit down. Here’s another intriguing tale behind what looks like an innocent volume parked on the Centre’s shelves…
Have you seen Black ’47. Britain and the Famine Irishby Frank Neal, with its bleak black and white cover and title printed in green? Haunted by the image of a gaunt famine-starved couple with a baby, it doesn’t look a relaxing read. Published in 1998, it appeared during the 150th anniversary commemorations of one of the most catastrophic transformational experiences ever to scar the collective psyche of any community in the world – the Great Irish Famine of the 1840s.
Our Roving Reader has been investigating what happened to the people whose stories and writings she looked at in her journey from Jamaica to England.
Una Marson died in 1965, but she lived for many years in the London Borough of Southwark. In 2005, Southwark Council awarded her a Blue Plaque in recognition of her contribution to literature and broadcasting. If any of you go and see it, let us know. There’s some more information on the Southwark Council website.
Joyce Gladwell is still alive and kicking. HerBrown Face, Big Master was reissued as a Caribbean Classic by MacMillan in 2003. Joyce herself went on to become a successful marriage and family therapist in Canada, whilst her husband became a professor of mathematics. In 2009, a counselling centre was named after her in recognition of her work. One of her sons is the journalist and best-selling writer Malcolm Gladwell, who discussed his mother’s life in one of his books – Outliers: The Story of Success (published 2008). You might like to read more about Joyce and the counselling centre or Malcolm Gladwell’s thoughts on his multi-racial background.
Concerning the Adult Literacy Projects, I don’t have updates about Louise Shore and the individuals who contributed to So This Is England. But you may like to know what happened to Centerprise, the organisation which published Louise’s autobiography Pure Running. A Life Story. It survived as the Centerprise Trust Community and Arts Centre in Dalston, London, until 2012. Unfortunately, its peppercorn rent of £10 per month was suddenly raised by Hackney Council to an impossible £37,000 per year. After much legal wrangling, it looks like it finally closed, to great disappointment all round. It had been open 41 years, and had helped many isolated immigrants in London. If anyone out there knows of any further developments on this matter, we’d welcome an update. You can read more about it on the Radical History of Hackney blog and the Hackney Citizen website.
The fourth instalment in our Roving Reader’s journey from Jamaica to England, through the primary and secondary sources in our library collection.
Louise Shore and Her Literary Ambitions
So far, we’ve learnt from intellectuals Una Marson and Joyce Gladwell, as we travel from Jamaica to England. But are you, like me, asking what our poor underprivileged companions have got to say?
Well, the disadvantaged have historically left few records of their own due to illiteracy, so if we’d asked that question even a hundred years ago, we’d probably have been told, “Not a lot. Hard cheese.”
The third instalment in our Roving Reader’s journey from Jamaica to England, through the primary and secondary sources in our library collection.
Joyce Gladwell Goes to London
Una Marson, through our secondary source, has given our Jamaica-to-England trip some context. Hurray! Now we can get comfortable, kick off our shoes, and learn a thing or two from the reminiscences of our companions. We’re going to thumb through some primary sources.
Primary sources come in many guises – letters, diaries, even old bus tickets, lists and catalogues. Archives are full of such things (often called manuscripts and ephemera), but for our journey, we’re going to look at the published variety; autobiographies – what people have written about themselves.
The next instalment in our Roving Reader’s journey from Jamaica to England, through the primary and secondary sources in our library collection.
Delia Jarrett-Macauley unearths Una Marson
When you’re planning a journey, what do you do?
Some people just throw a few things in a bag, jump on the first train and go to sleep. Others want to look out the window, take in the scenery and understand what they’re looking at. If this is you, you’re just the candidate to dip into a secondary source.
Secondary sources are wonderful things. Some are huge and fat, others quite slim. Nearly all are written by kind souls who love to inflict on themselves the hassle of assembling and making sense of piles of information, just so people like you and me can become enlightened. Secondary sources give us firm foundations for understanding the context and broad issues of a subject.
In a new series of posts, our Roving Reader travels from Jamaica to England, through the primary and secondary sources in our library collection.
Here we are back after the break, having seen in another new year. Do any of you feel like going away for a holiday after all that exertion? I know I do. Just as well then, that in this series I’m inviting everyone on a voyage of imagination and discovery, from sunny Jamaica to dear old Blighty.
Now why would I do that? Well, as far as I’m concerned, the Centre is an ideal place to do a bit of research, and our journey will be a great excuse for getting stuck into introducing different types of published resources you’ll find here.
On the way we’ll find that each type has its own strengths, whether it’s a primary or secondary source, and each brings its own special perspectivewhen read in conjunction with others. By taking a look at one or two examples in more detail we’ll start to see history spring to life, and we’ll meet Jamaicans who make their own unique contributions to the story of what it has meant to swap Jamaica for England.
By the end, I hope we’ll have greater insight into the triumphs and disasters of migration, as well as some of what the Centre can offer to shed light on the experience.
There is a tendency to see the history of Black people in Britain as a 20th Century history, and certainly the post-war period saw a large number of West Indian (not to mention African, Asian, European) migrants arrive here, what we call the ‘Windrush Generation’. And this period is the focus of our own archive – a repository for recent histories and living memories.
But a trip to the Lancashire Archives (for a CILIP Black History day school) has really put this into perspective for me.
As an addendum to my last post, did you knowthat Basil Davidson once walked the hallowed corridors of Manchester University?
He was appointed a senior Simon Research Fellow for the academic year 1975/76, doing library research for another book on the Centre’s shelves – his Africa in Modern History: The Search for a New Society, published in1978. How intriguing that he may have spent many hours on campus, in the Main Library and perhaps the Dover Street Building (where the Department of Sociology was then based).
Nice to know Manchester played its part in helping Basil restore to Africans their history and culture, don’t you think?
If anyone bumped into him and has any memories to share, do let us know…
I imagine if you came across the Asian Youth Movements in Manchester, Bradford and other towns and cities during the 1970s and 80s they would have made quite an impression on you. I knew very little about this fascinating bit of recent history until earlier this month when we welcomed author Anandi Ramamurthy to launch her new book Black Star: Britain’s Asian Youth Movements.
In a nutshell, during the 70s and 80s young Asians joined together to protest against the racism and inequality they experienced in their communities and from the government. These grassroots organisations held rallies and marches, protested against deportations and produced leaflets, newspapers and posters to spread their message.
She can be found here every week, settled in some quiet corner of the library brandishing a notepad and a quizzical look, or roaming around the shelves, picking up books seemingly at random, letting out sudden exclamations or shaking her head sagely… we never quite know what she’s up to, but she’s agreed to report back on her findings as our very own reader in residence.
Look out for her guest posts, in which she’ll reveal hidden stories, make unusual connections and share her insights into using the collection for research.