Black & Asian Heritage Mix’ – July 2021

EDITORIAL

Dear Readers,

This month’s Black & Asian Heritage Mix’ newsletter invites you, as usual, to read a selection of news stories on museums, archives, libraries, parks etc.

There are three articles that I find particularly worth reading. The first article by Climate Home News is about the recent attempt by mostly young people and scientists to occupy the Science Museum in London because it has accepted oil sponsorship from Shell for a climate change exhibition. The activists say they had exhausted all of the other “acceptable tactics” (e.g. letters, petitions, protests outside the museum) before. You may also wish to read a related article on this topic by George Monbiot published in the Guardian a few months ago.

The news that the Dutch National Archives has digitised almost 2 million items relating to the slave trade is also pretty impressive, as these documents can now be accessed online from the comfort of your own home without going to the Netherlands.

The third article that I would recommending reading is by Samira Ahmed that I have found in the New Humanist. It is titled “Our national need for grief” and it is also about the memorialisation of the huge number of people who have lost their lives because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

I have also included a “Book Section” this time. It contains not only links to the new report by Penguin with the Runnymede Trust on the systematic underrepresentation of authors of colour in English Literature in English schools, but also links to new books by award-wining authors as Amartya Sen and David Diop and lesser known authors’ books on heritage and memory.

Happy Reading!

Thushari Perera

BLACK EUROPE RESOURCES

A digital resource on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Issues

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MUSEUMS & HERITAGE SITES

Shell Out

By greenwashing Shell, the Science Museum is failing young people, Climate Home News, 21 June 2021

“As a biology and chemistry student I love London’s Science Museum, but its acceptance of oil sponsorship for a climate change exhibition is inexcusable. On Saturday the 19 June a group of 20 activists, mostly scientists and young people, attempted to occupy the Science Museum in London. We did this in protest at the Science Museum’s decision to accept Shell sponsorship of their new climate change exhibition “Our Future Planet”. An occupation was not our first choice of tactic. We had tried all of the “acceptable” tactics.”

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How did Osborne, king of cuts, become the British Museum’s fundraiser-in-chief?, The Guardian, 29 June 2021

“The British Museum is planning a huge development project…No budget has been publicly mentioned for this, the Rosetta Project. But the museum’s director, Hartwig Fischer, talks in terms of the “projet grand Louvre”…”

France Slavery

Why Does The Commemoration Of Slavery And Its Victims Remain So Difficult In France?, Royal Historical Society, Historical Transactions, 21 June 2021

“How do modern European nations remember the abolition of slavery, and how does this affect campaigns for racial justice? In the latest post from the RHS ‘Writing Race’ blog series, Olivia Durand introduces her research on France’s complicated relationship with abolitionism and slavery in the context of an important month of national commemoration. To study the legacy of abolition, citizenship and reparations raises important questions: does institutional silence and forgetfulness make memory a more, or less, important site for restorative justice and reconciliation?”

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Our national need for grief, New Humanist, 24 May 2021

“The death of the Duke of Edinburgh was the end of an era. But not just as British royal history… No one could be unmoved at the sight of the Queen, sitting entirely alone in front of the coffin of her husband of more than 70 years. But it was also a moment of great unease for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of British viewers: a rare globally televised acknowledgement of the huge blanket of death that the pandemic has cast over this nation… The memorial wall of painted red hearts – one for every victim with Covid-19 on their death certificate – which has appeared by St Thomas’ Hospital, on the banks of the Thames in London, was the intentionally grassroots initiative of the Covid-19 Bereaved Families For Justice group. It’s one of the very few places where you get a visual sense of the loss. There are hopes that it will be made into a permanent memorial.”

Geffrye Must Fall - Stand Up To Racism

‘Geffrye must fall’: Labour MP Diane Abbott leads protests demanding slaver statue be removed from London museum, The Art Newspaper, 14 June 2021

“…museum trustees decided it would be re-contextualised and not removed, amid pressure from the UK culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, to“retain and explain” colonial heritage.…The revamped Museum of the Home will highlight Geffrye’s slavery links in a text panel and in the audio guide, as well as in a new film by the artist Michael McMillan.”

Paulette Wilson Blue Plaque

Plaque for Windrush campaigner unveiled at former office of Enoch Powell, The Guardian, 22 June 2021

“Paulette Wilson, who died last year, honoured at Wolverhampton base of late ‘Rivers of Blood’ MP”

LIBRARIES & ARCHIVESholland-160486_640

National archive puts 1.9 million items linked to slave trade online, DutchNews.nl, 23 April 2021

“The Dutch national archive has put almost two million documents and drawings online which relate to the Netherlands’ slavery past after an eight-year project to preserve and digitalise them.”

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Video – Desert libraries in Mauritania: Treasures in need of protection – Focus, France24.com, 16 June 2021 (5 min)

“Remarkable treasures lie dormant in Mauritania. Thousands of manuscripts and books dating back to the 12th and 13th century are housed in libraries in the city of Chinguetti, the site of an ancient trading route. These ancient books were left by pilgrims on their way to Mecca or brought back from countries across the Islamic world. But the conservation of these rare works is a colossal challenge. They are threatened by extreme heat, termites and desert sands. Our colleagues at France 2 report, with FRANCE 24’s Jennie Shin.”

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A Single Digital Presence for libraries, Arts Council England, 3 June 2021

“As we announce a further £3.4 million investment in the Single Digital Presence platform, our Libraries Director Sue Williamson explains what it will offer to libraries and their users…To be a library member is to have the ability to visit different worlds, time periods and places, through the pages of the books the library has on its shelves or in the digital realm…Now, what if your library card also offered you a golden ticket to the collections, events, business support, exhibitions and more that other libraries across the country, indeed across the world, can offer?”

Video – Middlesbrough family’s library lifeline, BBC News, 29 April 2021 (1min20)

“Almost 700 libraries have closed across Britain since 2010 as councils look at ways to save money, but in Middlesbrough they are spending more. It is thought almost one in 10 children in the town do not own a book and it has a problem with literacy.”

BOOKS

Lit in Colour Diversity in Literature in English Schools Report

Penguin: Our landmark research on diversity in literature in English schools, Lit in Colour, 29 June 2021

“Today we published our research with The Runnymede Trust, which has found a systematic underrepresentation of authors of colour in English Literature in English schools. Fewer than 1% of students in England study a book by a writer of colour at GCSE and 82% of youth survey respondents didn’t recall ever studying a book by a writer of colour.”

Aanchal Malhotra Remanants of Partition Book

Remnants of Partition: 21 Objects from a Continent Divided by Aanchal Malhotra, Hurst, June 2021 (includes videos)

“The emotion and trauma of the Partition are buried deep, but Aanchal Malhotra has found a way to recover them. Through the possessions saved by her own great-grandparents as they fled their homes, she discovers the unique power of such objects: to unlock the secrets of a colossal human migration, and a life that once was…”

Black London Book

Black London: History, Art & Culture In Over 120 Places By Avril Nanton And Jody Burton, Avril’s Walks and Talks, June 2021

“London is a city justly proud of its cultural diversity, yet for too long tourists and Londoners alike have had to rely on guides focusing on its white history and landmarks. Now Black London allows us to see this familiar city anew, gathering together the places that tell the story of its black inhabitants, stretching back to Tudor times. From Cleopatra’s Needle sitting on the Victoria Embankment, carved in Egypt three and a half thousand years ago, to the Black Lives Matters mural in Woolwich, the city is rich with features that symbolise its black history.”

Amartya Sen Home in the World Book

Illusions of empire: Amartya Sen on what British rule really did for India, The Guardian, 29 June 2021

“It is true that before British rule, India was starting to fall behind other parts of the world – but many of the arguments defending the Raj are based on serious misconceptions about India’s past, imperialism and history itself”

David Diop Book

International Booker Prize: David Diop becomes first French winner, BBC News, 2 June 2021

“This year’s winning entry, by the French-Senegalese writer and literature professor, portrays a young man’s descent into madness, and tells the story of the Senegalese who fought for France during the conflict.”

HISTORY & NOW

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Major Dutch cities pushing for abolition of slavery to become a national holiday, NL Times, 21 June 2021

“Representatives of the four largest Dutch cities have sent a letter to Tweede Kamer asking the Cabinet to own up to the ‘hidden and uncomfortable’ colonial past of the Netherlands. The leaders of Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht urged for the abolition of slavery to be celebrated as a national public holiday on July 1.”

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History of the Bangladeshi Sewing Industry, DESIblitz, 25 November 2020

“Once home to the infamous ‘Dhaka Muslin’, Bangladesh’s sewing industry is plagued with exploitation. We explore the history of Bangladesh’s garment world.”

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Time to challenge Argentina’s white European self-image, black history experts say, The Guardian, 31 May 2021

“Argentina has long taken pride in its European heritage. The mass migration of 7 million Europeans, mostly Spanish and Italian, between 1850 and 1950, created a racial profile many Argentinians feel distinguishes their country from the rest of Latin America even today… Delgado and Gomes point to recent studies of population surveys and genetics that paint a far different picture from Argentina’s accepted history: one recent study concluded that up to 9% of today’s Argentinians may have ancestry from Africa.”

ARTS

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Artists call for ‘white-run’ UK Chinese gallery to be defunded in racism row, The Guardian, 21 June 2021

Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art in Manchester has ‘entrenched acceptance of racist attitudes’, claim artists”

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Bernie Grant Arts Centre Reopens with Celebrations of Black British Culture, The Voice, 17 June 2021

“From June 21st the centre will launch a 6 month series of events which will continue to put Black British Culture at the heart of the community.“

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Barbican staff say it is ‘institutionally racist’ despite action plan, The Guardian, 10 June 2021

“Book details more than 100 instances of alleged prejudicial behaviour at the arts organisation”

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UK’s first all-black, all-female Shakespeare company aim to shine new light on Bard, Theatre, The Guardian, 10 June 2021

“Mawa Theatre Company hope to make classic works accessible to diverse audiences…Brooks added that the group would eventually put on performances, but the first project, in August, would be a series of videos inspired by Shakespeare in collaboration with Talawa Theatre Company, that will be posted online for free.”

PARKS & GARDENS

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Lambeth’s Garden Museum explores Windrush horticultural heritage, SW Londoner, 2 June 2021

“The interviews, as well as going into the museum archives, will be displayed in an exhibition in the autumn alongside a set of professional photographs and historical items. The exhibition will take place from September-December this year, and will be free to the public.”

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Black history artwork to be commissioned for Dundee’s Slessor Gardens, The Dundee Courier, 23 June 2021

“Artwork celebrating black history in Dundee is to be commissioned after an exhibit displayed last year was destroyed.”

Mary Seacole

Legacy of Mary Seacole and Chapeltown’s Windrush residents will be remembered in memorial garden revamp, Yorkshire Evening Post, 19 June 2021

“Chapeltown Memorial Gardens started out as a road-side bench inaugurated by the late Leeds Coun Norma Hutchinson in 2000 on main Chapeltown Road. In 2005 they had a makeover but have since fallen into disrepair. But thanks to Windrush Funding, the Mary Seacole Nurses Association and the Coping with Bereavement Project they are set for a major renovation which will see them honour the current Windrush Generation living in and around Chapeltown – and also members of that same generation who are falling victim to the modern day pandemic – COVID 19.”

EVENTS

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Life On The Breadline, 3 July 2021 – 28 July 2021, Chapel Of Unity, Coventry Cathedral, Priory Street, Coventry CV1 5FB

“Life on the Breadline is a challenging new exhibition being premiered in Coventry Cathedral this summer…The exhibition features photographs from Life on the Breadline’s grassroots case studies in Birmingham, London, and Manchester which challenge the way we think about people’s experience of poverty in the UK and how Christians have responded to poverty during the ‘age of austerity’.”

Previous Issues of the Black & Asian Heritage Mix’ here

Image Credits: Pixabay, Stand Up to Racism, Penguin, Hurst, Inkspire, Allen Lane, Pushkin Press, Seuil.

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