Free Events

Anti-Racism in Britain: Histories and Trajectories

9:30 am - 5:30 pm | 20 February 2021
Online | Free

9:30 am - 5:30 pm | 27 February 2021
Online | Free

Concepts of ‘race’ and racism are central to British history. They have shaped, and been shaped by, British identities, economies and societies for centuries, from seventeenth-century enslavement in the Caribbean to the ‘hostile environment’ of the 2010s.

Yet state and societal racism has always been met with resistance. Britain has been home to anti-slavery societies, Pan-African Congresses, and anti-fascist organisations. At a more quotidian level, even those who might not have identified as anti-racist have challenged the racism of their peers, bosses and friends in informal ways.

People have challenged and reshaped notions of ‘Britishness’ through dress, art and staking their claim to British identity. The conference will explore the trends and patterns of British anti-racism — its continuities and discontinuities, its fusions and fissions — in order to understand how anti-racism has shaped Britain, and the possibilities for the anti-racist struggles of today and tomorrow.

Register to attend here

Day 1 – Saturday 20th February 2021

  • 09:30-09:45 – Welcome
  • 09:45-11:00 – Hakim Adi’s opening lecture: Anti-racism: A British Tradition
  • 11:00-11:15 – Break
  • 11:15-12:30 – Panel 1: The State and Citizenship
  • Christopher Fevre, ‘There is no justice here for the coloured man’: Challenging Racist Policing in Britain, 1919-1959 with Amy Grant, A Strange Sanctuary: State, Hate, and God in Late Twentieth Century Britain, Virgillo Hunter, The Windrush Scandal: Migration, Citizenship, Family and Belonging
  • 2:30-13:15 – Break
  • 13:15-14:30 – Panel 2: Music and Culture with Benjamin Bland, Morrissey, the Music Press, and the Contested Meanings of Anti-Racism in Contemporary British Youth Culture; Jessica Chow, Black Against the Stave: Black Modern Girls in British Interwar Jazz; Vanessa Mongey, Student on the move: Showcasing African culture in the North
  • 14:30-14:45 – Break
  • 14:45-16:00 – Panel 3: Anti-racism and Identity with Talat Ahmed, Tartan Inclusivity or Workers Internationalism: The origins of St Andrew’s Day Anti-racism March and Rally; Joseph Finlay, Jewish responses to ‘race’ and racism in post war Britain
  • 16:00-16:15 – Break
  • 16:15-17:30 – Panel 4: The Spatial and Gendered Dimensions of Anti-racist Activism during the Black Power Era in Britain with Zalirah Cooper, The Black British North: Establishing Space and Forming Resistance in the North (1970s-80s); Jessica White, ‘One of the best days of my life was when I met Olive’: Olive Morris in Manchester, 1975-1978; Kerry Pimblott, “To visit and meet, learn and observe”: Black British Women and Activist Travel to the People’s Republic of China, 1964-1979

Day 2 – Saturday 27 February 2021

  • 09:30-09:45 – Welcome
  •  09:45-11:00 – Panel 5: Exploring Transnational Politics of Anti-racism, 1880-1960: Chances, Limits and Legacies with Alison Holland, ‘Constant dripping wears away a stone’: The British Legacy of Anti-Slavery in Australia. Towards an Antiracism History. David Killingray, Action to counter race discrimination in Britain from the 1880s to 1913; Felix Lösing, False empathy: The British Congo reform movement and white saviourism
  • 11:00-11:15 – Break
  • 11:15-12:45 – Panel 6: Stop the Seventy Tour with Geoff Brown, Tony Collins, Christabel Gurney, Peter Hain, Christian Høgsbjerg, Pete Loewenstein and Elizabeth Williams
  • 12:45-13:30 – Break
  • 13:30-14:45 – Panel 7: Memory and Engaging with the Past with Megan Hunt, ‘An American-centric understanding of black history and identity.’ Martin Luther King, Jr. and the African American Freedom Struggle in British schools; Sophia Siddiqui, Anti-racist feminism: engaging with the past in the present; Patrick Soulsby, ‘History has to be reckoned with…’: Anti-racist memory cultures of British colonialism and the Holocaust, c. 1980-2001
  • 14:45-15:00 – Break
  • 15:00-16:00 – Archives and anti-racism with Anya Edmond-Pettitt (Institute of Race Relations)
  • 16:00-16:15 – Break
  • 16:15-17:30 – Panel 8: London and Anti-racism with Martin Evans, Fires in two post-colonial Babylon’s: Some reflexions on a comparative and connected history of anti-racist movements in London and Paris 1976-1985; Finnian Gleeson, Memory, Generation, and Anti-racist Practice in Postcolonial London: The Case of Docklands; Gil Shohat, Colonialism and National Socialism: On the Politics of Comparison in British and Pan-African Anticolonial Circles in the 1930s

Organising committee: Saffron East (University College London); Grace Redhead (University of Warwick); Theo Williams (Durham University).

Contact information: Email: – Twitter: @Antiracism2021

Header Image: courtesy of Neil Kenlock, Black Panther Demonstration, London, 1970s

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