EDITORIAL

Black Asian Heritage Mix May 2022

Dear Readers,

Welcome back to the Black & Asian Heritage Mix’ Newsletter!

This year her Majesty The Queen will become the first British Monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee after 70 years of service. Caribbean tours by younger royals widely documented in the media are increasingly seen as controversial, as many countries have indicated that they want to remove the Queen as head of state. Both community and academic circles are discussing the future of the monarchy and ”reparations” as you will see below.

The banking sector in the UK and wider Europe is also slowly uncovering its links to slavery. In England, the archbishop of Canterbury, has recently declared that memorials to slave traders do not belong in places of worship.

In this context, the British government’s insistence on teaching the benefits of the British Empire in schools is questioned by academics who highlight the entangled histories of slavery, colonial taxation and national welfare that continue to shape modern Britain.

 

Happy Reading!

 

Thushari Perera

 

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HISTORY & NOW

queen-3084166_640

Royals, republicanism and reparations: Wessexes feel the heat in Caribbean, The Observer, 1 May 2022

“Weeks after William and Kate’s controversial Caribbean tour, more nations signal plans to ditch the monarchy…The latest declarations mean six of the 14 countries beyond the UK that have the Queen as head of state have now indicated that they want to remove her – Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica and St Kitts and Nevis. If they do they will join countries including Trinidad, Guyana, Dominica and most recently Barbados…The royal tours have also led to renewed calls for reparations…”

Colonial taxes built Britain. That must be taught in lessons on Empire, Open Democracy, 1st April 2022

“UK government ministers want the British Empire’s benefits taught in schools. Don’t let them ignore the death and destruction it inflicted…Few people know that colonial subjects from the Indian subcontinent paid taxation, including income tax, to the British government in Westminster. Or that that taxation was used to alleviate the conditions of poorer people within Britain at a time when the working class and middle class here were exempt from paying income tax…”

Bank of England owned 599 slaves in 1770s, new exhibition reveals, The Guardian, 15 April 2022

“The Bank has already apologised for its role in the slave trade, but revelations of the institution’s direct ownership of the people have been uncovered in new research commissioned in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020.”

Report ABN AMRO slavery nl

Dutch bank ABN AMRO’s apology and its links to slavery, explained, TRT, 14 April 2022

“The investigation carried out by academics from the International Institute of Social History (IISH) has revealed that two Dutch bank’s predecessors were actively involved either in the day-to-day business of plantations and underwriting the trade in products produced by slaves.”

On ‘Passing’: Shifting Histories Of The Anglo-Indian Community, Royal Historical Society, 4 April 2022

“Mixed-race descendants of European fathers and Indian mothers, members of the Anglo-Indian community are often studied in the context of their historical assimilation within European societies. ‘Passing’, however, was also a feature of colonial Indian society, as Anglo-Indians sought the higher status of ‘Europeans’. Anglo-Indian history still remains a largely unexplored part of modern South Asian history. As Vishwajeet Deshmukh argues, it is not the story of the coloniser and the colonised, but of a group falling between the two.”

 

ARCHIVES

NL Slavery Abolition

‘Zwarte Piet is not an exception’ – the long history of racism in NL at last on show, DutchNews.nl, 4 April 2022

“From grotesque caricatures in children’s books to artwork depicting Sinterklaas as a woman of colour, a new exhibition in Amsterdam explores the depiction of black people in Dutch society and the ongoing battle for self-definition.” Facing Blackness – visual representations of black people and their history of resistance is showing at the Black Archives in Amsterdam from 2 April to 23 December 2022.

 

BOOKS

British Muslim Women in the Cultural and Creative Industries

British Muslim Women in the Cultural and Creative Industries By Saskia Warren, Edinburgh University Press, May 2022

“Presents an intimate portrait of how Muslim women are transforming media, culture and the arts in contemporary Britain…Drawing on interviews, focus groups, activity diaries, and online digital and visual analysis, Warren brings these women’s voices to the forefront to explore how Muslim womanhood is variously celebrated, contested, resisted and subverted. From negotiating family expectations to encountering prejudice from education providers and employers, and from founding businesses to finding ways to respect religion in their creative work, these personal insights bring the struggles and successes of British Muslim women creatives to life.”

Book Time's Monster Priya Satia

Time’s Monster: How History Makes History By Priya Satia, Penguin, 28 April 2022

“At key moments in Satia’s telling, we find Britons warding off guilty conscience by recourse to particular notions of history, especially those that spotlighted great men helpless before the will of Providence. Braided with this story is an account of alternative visions articulated by anticolonial thinkers such as William Blake, Mahatma Gandhi, and E. P. Thompson. By the mid-twentieth century, their approaches had reshaped the discipline of history and the ethics that came with it. Time’s Monster demonstrates the dramatic consequences of writing history today as much as in the past. Against the backdrop of enduring global inequalities, debates about reparations, and the crisis in the humanities, Satia’s is an urgent moral voice.” Find out more via Harvard University Press

Book Trust and Distrust Mark Knights

Trust and Distrust by Mark Knights, OUP, 9 December 2021

“The notion of entrusted power was adopted not just in Britain but across its empire. Indeed, one of the important ways in which domestic ideas about probity in office developed was in response to repeated scandals in the imperial sphere. The East India Company, in particular, generated numerous scandals that reverberated back home and helped to shape attitudes. The reasons for the slow pace of reform are nevertheless instructive, since some of the same factors persist today. Socio-cultural factors blunted and limited the progress of the notion of office as a public trust. Friendship, patronage, kinship, and a culture of gift-giving all blurred the boundaries between the public and private. Anti-corruption became highly politicised, often more intent on taking out rivals than in reforming the system.” Read Britain’s long struggle with corruption, OUP Blog, 6 January 2022

 

The God of Small Things to Shuggie Bain: the Queen’s jubilee book list, The Guardian, 18 April 2022

Expert panel selects 70 books from across the Commonwealth marking the seven decades of her reign.”

 

ARTS & CULTURE

MAP Academy

You Can Now Explore an Open-Source Encyclopedia of 10,000 Years of South Asian Art, The Smithsonian Magazine, 29 April 2022

“The online reference aims to make the region’s masterpieces more accessible than ever…The MAP Academy Encyclopedia of Indian Art, supported by Bangalore’s Museum of Art and Photography (MAP), launched last week with over 2,000 peer-reviewed entries on artwork ranging from paintings, to sculptures, to textiles and crafts.”

Merle Oberon: India’s forgotten Hollywood star, BBC News, 16 April 2022

“Merle Oberon, a Hollywood star of the black and white era, is a forgotten icon in India, the country of her birth…She was born Estelle Merle O’Brien Thompson in Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1911. Her mother was part-Sinhalese and part-Maori while her father was British…”

Black Women Reign Victorious at Venice Biennale as Simone Leigh, Sonia Boyce Win Top# Awards, ARTnews.com, 23 April 2022

“For the first time, both of the Venice Biennale’s top honors went to Black women. Those awards, known as the Golden Lions, went this year to Simone Leigh and Sonia Boyce, who won for participation in Cecilia Alemani’s main show and for a national pavilion, respectively…Boyce’s British Pavilion similarly centered Black women, focusing specifically on ones in Britain whose vast contributions to the country’s musical history have gone under-recognized by the mainstream. Through videos, sculptures, and displays of archival material, Boyce, who first emerged during the Black British Arts movement of the 1980s, surveyed the work of five Black female singers spanning multiple generations and musical styles.”

Lost portrait of black actor and rights campaigner Paul Robeson to go on show, The Guardian, 8 April 2022

“Glyn Philpot’s 1930 painting of actor playing Othello at Savoy one of several portrayals of people of colour in Chichester exhibition.”

The West London town that was once home to the real-life Pocahontas, MyLondon, 3 April 2022

“Pocahontas came to live in London after being captured and brought to England having married John Rolfe. The Virginia Company of London decided to bring Pocahontas to England to show they had ‘tamed’ a New World ‘savage’, and display the success of the Virginia colony in its goal to convert Native Americans to Christianity…Many people remember her stereotypically, with a bow and arrow and fighting. I think this downplays her actual personality and the role she had in peace-making between the Native Americans and English settlers.”

HERITAGE & MEMORY

Expulsion@50Podcast

Uganda remembers: ‘If we don’t tell our stories, someone else will’, Daily Maverick, 10 January 2022

“In 1972, Dolar Vasani and her family were among 80,000 people of Indian origin expelled from Uganda on the orders of then-president Idi Amin. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the expulsion, she has curated a podcast series. In this article, she reflects on the podcasts and why she needed to make them.” Listen to the Podcast Expulsion@50 here

 

Justin Welby backs removal of slave trader memorial in Cambridge college, The Guardian, 13 April 2022

“The archbishop of Canterbury has intervened for the second time in a dispute over a contested memorial in the chapel at Jesus College, Cambridge, stating emphatically that “memorials to slave traders do not belong in places of worship”.”

Edinburgh’s links with slavery: city-centre church ‘part funded by slave trade’ says researcher, Edinburgh News, 5 April 2022

St John’s Episcopal Church on Princes Street has been linked to the slave trade because some of the money for its construction came from two naval captains and an army officer who all served with the British East India Company (EIC), which was heavily involved in slavery. Researcher the Rev Yousouf Gooljary, a licensed minister in the Scottish Epsicopal Church, said captains Alexander Tod and Thomas Robertson and Lt Colonel Alexander Dyce earned their wealth in part from the company’s slave trading.”

Colston statue case referred to Court of Appeal over legal direction, Irvine Times, 13 April 2022

“The Attorney General has asked for clarification from the Court of Appeal over the circumstances in which defendants can cite their human rights as a defence in a case of criminal damage.”

Statue unveiled of ‘most influential’ Leicester City owner Khun Vichai after fatal helicopter crash, ITV, 4 April 2022

“With his unwavering dedication and ceaseless passion for the club, the story Khun Vichai inspired at King Power Stadium delighted millions around the world. Establishing Leicester City among the game’s elite was only part of Khun Vichai’s gift to Leicester, whose communities came to love and admire his frequent displays of generosity.”

MUSEUMS

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‘This is for everyone!’: inside Britain’s first ever LGBTQ+ museum | Art | The Guardian

“So who is this museum for? “It’s for everyone!” says Anjum Mouj, trustee and board member of Imaan, the Muslim LGBTQ+ group. She wants LGBTQ+ and heterosexual people alike to visit, with parents taking their queer and straight children; and for the museum to look beyond Britain’s borders, in a world in which 69 nations and territories still criminalise same-sex relationships.”

Glasgow’s museum of religion has been saved from closure – here’s why it’s important for multicultural Britain, The Conversation, 25 March 2022

“Glasgow’s St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art is unique within the British Isles. It is the only museum dedicated to the dialogue between art and religion, housing religious artefacts from different traditions and eras.”

EVENTS & PODCASTS

LSE Women's International Thought Exhibition

5 May-2 September 2022: Women’s International Thought, LSE Library

“This exhibition explores the ideas, genres, and contexts of women’s international thinking in Britain and the United States in the first half of the twentieth century. A period of colonial and anti-colonial struggles, superpower rivalry, racial, class and gendered conflicts, the legacies of these times – and these women’s ideas – are still with us today. Curated by the Leverhulme Project on Women and the History of International Thought, the following exhibition explores women international thinkers and their work at a fundamental moment in the imagining of international relations.”

Open Now: Slavery & the Bank, Bank of England

“This exhibition explores the history of transatlantic slavery through its connections with the Bank of England and the wider City of London. For over 300 years, the slave trade tore more than 12 million African people from their homes and families. In this exhibition, we reflect on how the wealth created through transatlantic slavery shaped the development of Britain.”

Related links: a) online exhibition b) Slavery & the Bank Guide

Podcast: 17 March 2022, The Platinum Jubilee and Future of the Monarchy, UCL, Constitution Unit

“A panel of experts mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and explore what the future of the monarchy might look like.”

Slavery Chains

14 May 2022: Creating Economic Repair: Capitalism, Ubuntu and Spatial Justice, University of Repair & Museum of London Docklands

“This conference considers the diasporic circumstances emerging from London’s involvement in the enslavement of African people, contemporary reparation discourses, and the practice of collective economics in Africa and beyond.”

16 May 2022: Virtual BCA Armchair Debate -The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Caribbean Tour, Black Cultural Archives

“Hosted by Dr Yvonne Thompson CBE, the new Chair of Black Cultural Archives (BCA), join us for our newest community engagement initiative aimed to generate your perspective on a topic much debated recently across the British media – the recent Royal tour of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to the Caribbean.”

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