Black Lives Matter

An opportunity for historians to engage with activists.

Thursday 6 July 2017 11am to 12.30pm
Modern British Studies Conference 2017
UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM, Room N225, Gisbert Kapp Building

History Acts workshops are led by activists, who give a short talk or presentation about their work. Historians working on a relevant topic will then respond, before opening it up to group discussion.

Our Panel

Malachi Thomas is one of the organisers of Black Lives Matter protests in Nottingham. In November 2016 he was convicted of unlawfully obstructing a highway having used foam-filled “lock-on devices” to link himself to other activists before lying across tram lines outside Nottingham’s Theatre Royal during a “national day of action” in August.

Tippa Naphtali is the founder of 4WardEver UK and the cousin of custody death victim, Mikey Powell, from Birmingham. Established June 2006, 4WardEver provides a one-stop-resource for case profiles, news and event details, useful resources, statistics, appeals, and more in relation to deaths and abuses whilst in custody; including the death penalty, other injustices and human rights abuses in the UK and internationally.

Dr Christienna Fryar is starting as a lecturer of the history of slavery and unfree labour at the University of Liverpool this July. Previously, she spent four years as an assistant professor of history at SUNY Buffalo State. She is completing her first book, The Measure of Empire: Disaster and British Imperialism in Postemancipation Jamaica, which explores how imperial disaster politics belied contemporary popular narratives of Jamaica’s ruin in the eight decades after emancipation. Her work focuses on the history of emancipation as the history of Britain, the British Empire, and the British Commonwealth since 1800.

Dr Kennetta Perry specializes in Atlantic World history with a particular emphasis on transnational race politics, empire, migration and movements for citizenship among people of African descent in Europe, the Caribbean and the United States. Her book, London Is The Place For Me:Black Britons, Citizenship and the Politics of Race (Oxford University Press, 2015). Her book examines how a largely Afro-Caribbean population of Black Britons advocated for citizenship rights and transformed the political landscape in Britain in the decades following World War II.

Presentations:

Reclaiming The Media

An opportunity for historians with an interest in the state of progressive media to  engage with activists.

Tuesday 16  May 2017 6pm to 8pm
Dreyfus Room, Birkbeck, 26 Russell Square, London

“The public is desperately in need of a new-media revolution. One that promotes freedom, equality and fairness; a media that allows its writers to truly express their informed opinions without censorship or an editorial narrative to maintain.” Evolvepolitics.com

History Acts workshops are led by activists, who give a short talk or presentation about their work. Historians working on a relevant topic will then respond, before opening it up to group discussion.

Our Panel

SKWAWKBOX is written to try to present information and analysis that will rarely make it into the mainstream media because it doesn’t fit their agenda and the narrative they want to present. People with evidence contact the SKWAWKBOX because they know their identities will be protected and their stories presented fairly.

Evolvepolitics.com Evolve Politics is a truly independent, shared equity media outlet, providing incisive news reporting and investigative journalism that highlights and exposes injustice, inequality and unfairness within UK politics, and throughout society in general.

Women Against Rape was founded in 1976. It has won changes in the law, such as making rape in marriage a crime, set legal precedents and achieved compensation for many women.

Dr Laura Beers is a lecturer in Modern British History at Birmingham University. Her primary research interest is political history, particularly the intersection between politics and the mass media, the relationship between politics and gender, and international politics between the two World Wars.

 

Homes for all

An opportunity for historians with an interest in the housing crisis to  engage with activists.

Tuesday 21 March 2017 6pm to 8pm
Dreyfus Room, Birkbeck, 26 Russell Square, London

History Acts workshops are led by activists, who give a short talk or presentation about their work. Historians working on a relevant topic will then respond, before opening it up to group discussion.

Our Panel

Hackney Digs campaign for a better deal for people renting in Hackney and beyond. They are a private renter information, support and campaign group, run by Hackney renters, for Hackney renters. Digs support anyone who is renting privately in Hackney or who is homeless or insecurely housed and trying to find a home in Hackney’s private rented sector.

Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians recently squatted a £15m Belgravia mansion owned by Russian billionaire Andrey Goncharenko. They used it as a homeless shelter and community centre, open to any group that ‘would disgust the wealthy’. The group Anal, who briefly opened a squat in Admiralty Arch in 2015, have squatted a number of prominent buildings since their formation in 2014.

The Focus E15 campaign was born in September 2013 when a group of young mothers were served eviction notices by East Thames Housing Association after Newham Council cut its funding to the Focus E15 hostel for young homeless people. They demand social housing, not social cleansing!

Professor Jerry White Formerly a public health inspector enforcing housing standards in Islington in the 1970s, and then Chief Executive of the London Borough of Hackney from 1989 to 1995, Jerry White has been researching and writing London history since the mid-1970s. Among his many published works is London in the Twentieth Century: A City and Its People. His most recent book, Mansions of Misery. A Biography of the Marshalsea Debtors’ Prison, was published in October 2016. He is Professor of Modern London History at Birkbeck, University of London.

Dr Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite is a historian currently working on squatting in postwar London, and on women’s activism during the miners’ strike of 1984-5. She has published work on Thatcher, New Labour, and the 1970s in the Historical Journal, Twentieth Century British History and elsewhere.

Here to stay, here to fight

An opportunity for historians with an interest in questions relating to migration to engage with activists.

Tuesday 21 February 2017, 6pm to 8pm
Dreyfus Room, Birkbeck, 26 Russell Square, London

History Acts workshops are led by activists, who give a short talk or presentation about their work. Historians working on a relevant topic will then respond, before opening it up to group discussion.

Our Panel

Antonia Bright, Movement for Justice
Movement for Justice By Any Means Necessary is an integrated, youth-led civil rights movement, that was set up in 1995 to tackle racism in institutional and established forms. The group confront organised fascism as well as death in custody and wider racism to black people as well as travellers, refugees and asylum seekers.

Lisa Matthews, Coordinator, Right to Remain
Right to Remain is a UK-based human rights organisation, which works with communities, groups and organisations across the UK, providing information, resources, training and assistance to help people to establish their right to remain, and to challenge injustice in the immigration and asylum system.

Dr Becky Taylor is a historian who is centrally concerned with the relationship between the different levels of the state and marginal and minority groups. Her areas of research and writing have taken in histories of Gypsy, Roma and Travellers, ‘immigrants’, those living in poverty, and most recently, refugees. She is currently writing a book for Cambridge University Press called The Britain they Entered: Refugees to Britain in the Twentieth Century. Her understanding of the state is also informed by over two decades of involvement in direct action as part of various grass-roots environmental, peace and social justice movements.

Paul Dudman is the Archivist based at the University of East London. Paul has been responsible for the Refugee Council Archive at UEL since 2002 and has over a decade’s experience working within higher education archives. Paul is a co-convener of the IASFM (International Association for the Study of Forced Migration) Working Group on for the Archiving and Documentation of the History of Forced Migration and Refugees; and Lead Convener for the Oral History Society (UK) Migration Special Interest Group.


History Acts is a new radical history forum, affiliated to the Raphael Samuel Centre, and based at the University of London. Our goal is to bring together radical and left-wing historians and contemporary activists. We want to find new ways to engage as academics with contemporary struggles, to learn from activists, and to see how we can use what expertise and institutional resources we have to provide active solidarity.

History Acts sessions take place on the third Tuesday of every term-time month. They are held at Birkbeck, University of London.
Sessions are free and open to any historian, any history student, or anyone interested in how history can work for social and political change.

Forming New Unions

An opportunity for historians with an interest in questions relating to organised labour to engage with union activists. The session will have a particular focus on the formation of new unions.

Tuesday17 January 2017 6pm to 8pm
Dreyfus Room, Birkbeck, 26 Russell Square, London

History Acts workshops are led by activists, who give a short talk or presentation about their work. Historians working on a relevant topic will then respond, before opening it up to group discussion.

Our Panel

Petros Elia, General Secretary, United Voices of the World Union
United Voices of the World Union is a grassroots, member-led, trade union that supports some of the most oppressed and unrepresented groups of predominantly migrant workers in the UK and takes on some of the most unscrupulous employers.

Henry Chango Lopez, President of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain
Independent Workers Union of Great Britain is a small, independent trade union, whose members are predominantly low paid migrant workers in London. The union was founded in 2012. The IWGB is a campaigning union, which has waged a number of high profile campaigns such as for the London Living Wage at the Royal Opera House and at John Lewis, and the 3 Cosas Campaign (sick pay, holidays, and pensions) at the University of London.

Professor Ralph Darlington Professor of Employment Relations, University of Salford. His main research is concerned with the dynamics of trade union organisation, activity and consciousness in Britain and internationally within both contemporary and historical settings. Ralph has authored, co-authored and edited six books, including The Dynamics of Workplace Unionism (1994), The Political Trajectory of J.T. Murphy (1998), Glorious Summer (2001), Syndicalism and the Transition to Communism: An International Comparative Analysis (2008), What’s the Point of Industrial Relations?: In Defence of Critical Social Science (2009), and Radical Unionism (2013).

Dr Laura Schwartz Associate Professor in Modern British History, Warwick University. Her main research interests are the history of feminism and radical movements in Britain, and she is completing her third monograph on ‘Feminism and the Servant Problem: Class Conflict and Domestic Labour in the British Women’s Suffrage Movement’.

History Acts is a new radical history forum, affiliated to the Raphael Samuel Centre, and based at the University of London. Our goal is to bring together radical and left-wing historians and contemporary activists. We want to find new ways to engage as academics with contemporary struggles, to learn from activists, and to see how we can use what expertise and institutional resources we have to provide active solidarity.

History Acts sessions take place on the third Tuesday of every term-time month. They are held at Birkbeck, University of London.
Sessions are free and open to any historian, any history student, or anyone interested in how history can work for social and political change.

Gender Violence

An opportunity for historians with an interest in questions relating to gender to engage with gender activists. The session will have a particular focus on violence.

Tuesday 13 December –  6pm to 8pm
Room 540, Birkbeck, Malet Street London

History Acts is a new radical history forum, affiliated to the Raphael Samuel Centre, and based at the University of London. Our goal is to bring together radical and left-wing historians and contemporary activists. We want to find new ways to engage as academics with contemporary struggles, to learn from activists, and to see how we can use what expertise and institutional resources we have to provide active solidarity.

This is a new – and as far as we know, unique – project. We are beginning by hosting a series of workshops, each on a different topic or theme. The sessions will be led by activists, who will be invited to give a short talk or presentation about their work. A historian or historians working on a relevant topic will then respond, before opening it up to group discussion.

Our panel

Dr Hannana Siddiqui, Southall Black Sisters
Southall Black Sisters was set up in 1979 to meet the needs of black (Asian and African-Caribbean) and minority ethnic women. For more than three decades they have been at the forefront of challenging domestic and gender violence locally and nationally.

Lisa Longstaff, Women Against Rape

Grassroots multi-racial women’s group founded in 1976. Offers support, legal advocacy and information to women and girls who have been raped or sexually assaulted. Supports survivors when they report to the police, seek protection from further attacks, or are preparing for court; applying for compensation; or claiming asylum from rape.

Cristel Amiss, Black Women’s Rape Action Project
The Project was founded in 1991 by Black women to run services and campaigns, they focus on winning justice for women of colour and immigrant women who have survived rape, racist attacks and other violence.

Dr June Purvis is Emeritus Professor of Women’s and Gender History at Portsmouth. Her main research interests are in women’s and gender history in Modern Britain (19th and 20th centuries). Her specialism is the suffragette movement in Edwardian Britain on which she has published extensively. June is Editor of the journal Women’s History Review and Convenor of the Women’s History Network. She was one of the historical advisers for the feature film Suffragette starring Carey Mulligan and Meryl Streep.

Dr Megha Kumar’s book, Communalism and Sexual Violence in India, examines the specific conditions motivating sexual crimes against women based on three of the deadliest riots that occurred in Ahmedabad city, Gujarat, in 1969, 1985 and 2002. Using government reports, Hindu nationalist publications and civil society commentaries, as well as interviews with activists, politicians and riot survivors, the book offers new insights into the factors and ideologies involved in communal violence.

Labour’s Crisis

An opportunity for historians with an interest in the British left to engage with Momentum and Jeremy for Labour activists.

Tuesday 15 November –  6pm to 8pm
Dreyfus Room, Birkbeck, 26 Russell Square, London

History Acts is a new radical history forum, affiliated to the Raphael Samuel Centre, and based at the University of London. Our goal is to bring together radical and left-wing historians and contemporary activists. We want to find new ways to engage as academics with contemporary struggles, to learn from activists, and to see how we can use what expertise and institutional resources we have to provide active solidarity.

This is a new – and as far as we know, unique – project. We are beginning by hosting a series of workshops, each on a different topic or theme. The sessions will be led by activists, who will be invited to give a short talk or presentation about their work. A historian or historians working on a relevant topic will then respond, before opening it up to group discussion.

Our panel

Rachel Godfrey Wood is a Labour Party and Momentum activist. She is also a researcher specialising in areas relating to social policy, climate change, and community politics. She has a PhD from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in the wellbeing of older people in the Bolivian Altiplano. She has published in various journals.

Michael Walker worked on the Jeremy for Labour campaign in the volunteer mobilisation team. He is the presenter of The Fix on Novara Media.

Daisy Payling completed her PhD at the University of Birmingham in 2015 on the ideas and practices of left-wing political renewal. Her research looked specifically at how local government and different activist movements engaged with each other in Sheffield in the 1970s and 1980s. She is currently a Research Fellow in History at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Diarmaid Kelliher is a historian based at the University of Glasgow. He is researching the Miners’ Strike and the Metropolis, 1984-5. He is also involved with Momentum Islington.

John Callaghan  Professor of Politics & Contemporary History, University of Salford has unfortunately had to cancel.

History Acts launched

History Acts was launched today at the ‘What is Radical History?’ Conference. We decided to present a short proposal to the conference, and then open up our plans to scrutiny and appraisal.

Some extremely useful points were made in this discussion:

  • Our first meeting is planned for the night of the general election (whoops!).
  • Many projects are already underway, and plenty of historians are also activists.
  • Libraries, museums and archives are often better at doing outreach work than universities.
  • Projects can be short, one-offs or very long term.
  • Not all radical activities fit neatly under the label “activism”.
  • Many small activist projects need help recording their own history.

We will be posting an online version of the presentation shortly, and will try to incorporate these and other points people raised more informally.

Meanwhile our mailing list is now online here. Please do sign up.

We look forward to seeing you in May.

First meeting

Thursday 21 May, 2015, 6.30pm – 7.30pm

in the Dreyfus Room, 26-28 Russell Square, 

he first meeting of History Acts is pleased to welcome Dr Matt Cook (Birkbeck), who will be joining us to discuss the first project we are running with activists. There will also be time to discuss ideas for a second project.

We aim to make meetings swift and productive so do try to be on time.

There will be a short social afterwards at the Museum Tavern.


 

Agenda 

1. welcome

2. Constitution of History Acts

3. Pilot Project  – Trans meets Gay

  • discussion / review of the project plans established so far
  • advisors to the project introduced, BiGS support
  • event  plans (provisional date, format)
  • History Acts support
  • assessment / critiques

4. Ideas  for second pilot project
5. Organisation posts available

  • website
  • mailing list / publicity
  • projects co-ordinator

6. ideas for an honorary president

7. Dates for next (termly) meetings

Launch

History Acts is launching at What is Radical History? on Tuesday 24 March.

For the conference we have produced a short presentation about our aims and the nature of the work we plan to undertake.

We hope to open up a discussion on these plans and to simulate debate and criticism around the legitimacy of the project. In this way, we believe our contribution to the conference will be both relevant and of value.