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.