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Communal memory may seek its meanings through a sense of causality shared with psychoanalysis, that negotiates the recurrence of the image of the past while keeping open the question of the future. The importance of such retroaction lies in its ability to reinscribe the past, reactivate it, relocate it, resignify it. More significant, it commits our understanding of the past, and our reinterpretation of the future, to an ethics of ‘survival’ that allows us to work through the present.” – Stuart Hall on ‘reconstruction’ from Questions of Cultural Identity

The term ‘reconstruction’ is often used to characterise a moment in time where a series of events force a period of political, social and economic reorganisation. This past year, the Covid-19 pandemic and the sustained Black Lives Matter protests have prompted a collective reassessment of the past in order to make sense of present-day inequalities. Stuart discussed ‘reconstruction’ as an opportunity to “reinscribe the past, reactivate it, relocate it and resignify it” in order to work through the present, reinterpret the future and to imagine something else. Our #ReconstructionWork series implements Stuart’s thinking through a series of online public conversations where we invite writers, artists and activists to critically consider how we can build a more just society in response to the Covid-19 crisis and the Black Lives Matter protests worldwide. 

Check our Events page for information on future #ReconstructionWork events.

Scroll down to watch the conversations.

‘Publishing in the Wake of Black Lives Matter’

with Margaret Busby and Anamik Saha

The Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020 produced an unprecedented amount of public statements from corporate media in support of the movement. Such media usually shy away from making political pronouncements, especially around racism. This was particularly the case for the publishing industry which research shows remains the whitest and most privileged cultural sector.

In this event, Margaret Busby and Anamik Saha discussed how publishing can better engage with questions of race, and whether this recent reckoning with racism, expressed in the BLM statements realised by nearly all the major publishing houses, can lead to meaningful change and transformation.

Speakers

Margaret Busby CBE, Hon. FRSL (Nana Akua Ackon) is a major cultural figure in Britain and around the world. Born in Ghana and educated in the UK, she graduated from Bedford College, London University, before becoming Britain’s youngest and first black woman publisher when she co-founded Allison & Busby in the late 1960s. At Allison & Busby, she published notable authors including Buchi Emecheta, Nuruddin Farah, Rosa Guy, C. L. R. James, Michael Moorcock, Jill Murphy Sam Greenlee, Roy Heath, George Lamming, Andrew Salkey, Ishmael Reed and John Edgar Wideman.

A writer, editor, broadcaster and literary critic, she has written drama for BBC radio and the stage, with radio abridgements and dramatisations encompassing work by Henry Louis Gates, Timothy Mo, Walter Mosley, Jean Rhys, Sam Selvon and Wole Soyinka. She has interviewed high-profile writers including Toni Morrison, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and Ben Okri, judged the Booker Prize among others, and served on the boards of such organisations as the Royal Literary Fund, Wasafiri magazine, Tomorrow’s Warriors, Nubian Jak Community Trust and the Africa Centre in London.

A long-time campaigner for diversity in publishing, she is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and recipient of several honorary doctorates and awards, including the Bocas Henry Swanzy Award, the Royal Society of Literature’s Benson Medal, and the Royal African Society’s inaugural Africa Writes Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dr Anamik Saha is a senior lecturer in the Department of Media, Communications and Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London. He has held visiting fellowships at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Trinity College, Connecticut. His research interests are in race and media, with a particular focus on cultural production and the cultural industries, including issues of ‘diversity’. He is the author of Race and the Cultural Industries, (Polity, 2018). In 2019 he received an AHRC Leadership Fellow grant for Rethinking ‘Diversity’ in Publishing. Anamik is an editor of the European Journal of Cultural Studies. His new book, Race, Culture, Media (Sage), will be published in 2021.

‘Climate Justice From Below: Race, Class and Climate Crisis’

with Jhannel Tomlinson and Leon Sealey-Huggins

In the global north and south, low-income communities are the first to experience the impacts of pandemics, water scarcity, power shortages, poor air quality and subpar living standards, which amplify vulnerabilities to extreme weather conditions. These communities are also agents of potent political resistance who have consistently advanced community-based solutions to the climate crisis that are often ignored, or silenced, by the mainstream.

On Tuesday 26th October, the Stuart Hall Foundation welcomed Jhannel Tomlinson, Cofounder of the Young People for Action Jamaica and GirlsCARE and is also the Sustainability Lead for the JAWiC board, and Leon Sealey-Huggins, Lecturer in Global Sustainable Development at the University of Warwick, to discuss intersectional approaches to addressing the climate crisis and its colonial roots. Coinciding with COP26, Jhannel and Leon will share their experiences, think through examples of community-based organising against climate antagonisms, and complicate corporate-led solutions to addressing climate change.

The event was a part of the Contextualising Climate Crisis Series.

Speakers

Jhannel Tomlinson is a PhD candidate finalising her research on community based adaptation to climate change in Jamaica. She is cofounder the Young People for Action Jamaica and GirlsCARE and is also the Sustainability Lead for the JAWiC board. She has represented Jamaica as the youth delegate at COP24/25 and has attended the ECOSOC Youth Forum, the UN Youth Climate Summit and is slated to attend Youth4Climate: Driving Ambition in Milan in September. She has received the Prime Minister’s Youth Award for Environment Protection, is a steering committee member for the PAHO/ CARIFORUM One Health Project and was recently listed as the Caribbean awardee on the ’50 Next ‘ Listing of young people working towards the future of food.

Leon Sealey-Huggins has conducted scholarship (teaching, research and writing) and activism on climate breakdown for over 15 years. This work is motivated by a deep concern over the ways in which climate breakdown is caused by and contributes to deeply ingrained historical oppressions. When not fretting about the apocalypse, Leon likes to watch prestige TV series, read novels, run, cook and climb. Leon is a Trustee of both The GAP people’s arts project in Balsall Heath, Birmingham, the Fruit and Nut Tree Village, co-founder of Breathe and member of Wretched of the Earth.

‘Can the Museum be Decolonised?’

with Mohammed Ali, Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan, and Ahdaf Souif

What can the concept of decolonisation look like in practice and in relation to the museum? We welcome Ahdaf Soueif, Mohammed Ali, Sado Jirde and Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan to share their experiences working within and without the museum to examine whether or not the museum can be a space for realising disruptive and radical possibilities. They will be discussing what and who the museum is for, the relationship between the museum and the construction of racial hierarchies as well as the museum’s entanglements with the history and legacies of colonisation

Speakers

Mohammed Ali is an award-winning artist, curator and producer, and a trustee of Birmingham Museums. He has been commissioned to work internationally with leading galleries, festivals, arts centres and theatres to produce large scale murals in open spaces in the communities where people work, live and play. Mohammed is the founder of Soul City Arts, a leading independent arts organisation based in Birmingham that has worked with artists, academics and activists from around the world to commission and present innovative exhibitions, performances and digital installations. He has worked extensively in places like Kuala Lumpur, Melbourne, New York and South Africa.

Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan is an educator and poet who disrupts narratives of race, history and knowledge in her writing and workshops. She is the author of ‘Postcolonial Banter’ (2019), host of the Breaking Binaries podcast, and published in multiple anthologies and national media publications. Her work has millions of views online.

Ahdaf Soueif is the author of the bestselling The Map of Love (shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1999 and translated into more than 30 languages). Her account of the Egyptian revolution of 2011, Cairo: a City Transformed, came out in January 2014. Her collection of essays, Mezzaterra (2004), has been influential and her articles for the Guardian in the UK are published in the European and American press. In 2007 Ms Soueif co-founded the Palestine Festival of Literature which takes place annually in occupied Palestine. In 2020, after serving for 7 years, she resigned from the British Museum Board of Trustees.

www.ahdafsoueif.com

Twitter: asoueif / Facebook: Ahdaf Soueif

‘Racial Disparities in Mental Healthcare’

with James Nazroo and Lanre Malaolu

On Tuesday 11th May, the Stuart Hall Foundation is hosting a conversation between James Nazroo, Fellow of the British Academy and Professor of Sociology at the University of Manchester, and award-winning director and choreographer, Lanre Malaolu, to explore the racial inequalities and injustices that surround mental health in the UK. The event will include an introduction from Child Psychotherapist, Psychoanalyst and Trustee of the Stuart Hall Foundation, Becky Hall.

The Covid-19 pandemic has magnified a disproportionate exposure to socio-political factors that impact mental health and well-being for ethnic minority communities. Research shows this includes employment insecurity, educational disenfranchisement, over-policed communities, and poor access to physical and mental healthcare. James and Lanre will examine these inequalities that cut across race and ethnic groups, how they are influenced by, class, and gender, and address experiences of mental health at an individual, institutional and national level. They will bring to the discussion perspectives shaped by their academic and creative work, to interrogate vulnerabilities, discuss resistance to socio-political determinants that compound mental ill-health, and consider opportunities for healing.

Speakers

Lanre Malaolu is an award-winning director, choreographer, and writer working across theatre and film. Lanre creates groundbreaking work merging movement and dialogue to tell socially engaged stories about our world. A unique element of his work stems from Rudolf Laban’s movement psychology, to build dynamic and bold choreography charged with truth. Lanre was commissioned by Camden Peoples Theatre to create ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM which transferred to the Roundhouse in 2019. He was choreographer for DEAR MR. SHAKESPEARE (Sundance Film Festival, 2017). THE CIRCLE premiered at Sheffield Doc/Fest, won Best dance film award at Leeds International Film Festivaland was picked up by The Guardian in 2020. THE CONVERSATION won Best Dance Film at Aesthetica Festival & San Francisco Dance Film Festival 2020.

James Nazroo is Professor of Sociology at the University of Manchester, founding and Deputy Director of the ESRC Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE), co-PI of the Synergi Collaborative Centre, which is investigating ethnic inequalities in severe mental illness, and founding and co-Director of the Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing (MICRA). Issues of inequality and social justice have been the primary focus of his research. Central to his work on ethnicity/race has been developing an understanding of the links between racism, socioeconomic inequality and health. This work has covered a variety of elements of social disadvantage, how these relate to processes of racism, and how these patterns have changed over time.

Becky Hall moved from post graduate work in the field of Literature and post-coloniality to train as a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist at the Tavistock Clinic. She subsequently trained as a Psychoanalyst at the British Psychoanalytic Association (BPA). She has worked for many years in NHS services for children and families and has developed a special interest in work with Looked After children, Adoption and parental mental health. She currently works in the NHS and in private practice with children, adolescents and adults. She teaches Infant Observation, writes and is an active member of the Association of Child Psychotherapists. Becky is Stuart Hall’s daughter and a Trustee of the Stuart Hall Foundation.

‘Intergenerational Inequality’

with Shiv Malik and Susanna Rustin

For our fourth #ReconstructionWork conversation in the series, Shiv Malik, and Susanna Rustin explored how intergenerational inequality, and the economic reality on which it has been based, has changed our politics and what this might mean for the future. In the last decade, intergenerational inequality has been at the fore of political argument, alongside other inequalities such as class, race, sex, with which the left has traditionally been engaged.

Speakers

Shiv Malik is a technologist, author, broadcaster and former investigative journalist. He began his career reporting from Afghanistan and Pakistan and subsequently worked for the Guardian for five years breaking exclusive front page stories on everything from UK government social policy to secret ISIS documents. He is a co-founder of the think-tank, the Intergenerational Foundation and the author of two books, the 2010 cult economics book Jilted Generation and The Messenger an intrepid personal tale about a relationship with a terrorist-cum-fatasist, published by Faber last year. He has been a full time contributor to the open source project Streamr, since 2017, where he evanglises about a new decentralised data economy and data ownership.

Susanna Rustin is a social affairs leader writer for the Guardian. She covers a range of topics including education, health, housing and environment for the leader (“Guardian view”) column. She has worked at the Guardian for 18 years and previous roles have included deputy opinion editor, feature writer, and deputy editor of the Saturday Review. Susanna lives in Queen’s Park, London, where she is a councillor on London’s only parish/community council. She has been a trustee of the Stuart Hall Foundation since it was set up. Stuart (her uncle by marriage) was an important figure in her life. Susanna went to a comprehensive school in London and studied at York university and Birkbeck College.

‘Legacies of British Slave Ownership’

with Catherine Hall and Ruth Ramsden-Karelse

In the third of the #ReconstructionWork series, ‘Legacies of British Slave Ownership’, Catherine Hall and Ruth Ramsden-Karelse explored the importance of new histories, reparations, working to decolonise education and shifting collective memories in the effort to imagine new futures.

The most recent wave of Black Lives Matter protests has rejuvenated popular debate over the removal of statues of British slave owners from public spaces. The fall of the Edward Colston statue in Bristol and calls to remove statues of Winston Churchill, Lord Nelson and Cecil Rhodes has forced the British public to reconsider questions of history and colonial legacies.

Speakers

Catherine Hall is Emerita Professor of History and Chair of the Centre of the Study of British Slave-ownership at UCL. She has written extensively on the history of Britain and its empire including Civilising Subjects (2002) Macaulay and Son (2012) and, with others, Legacies of British Slave-ownership (2014). From 2009-2016 she was principal investigator on the LBS project www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs. She is currently writing a book on Edward Long, Jamaica and racial capitalism. She is a trustee of the Stuart Hall Foundation.

Ruth Ramsden-Karelse is founder and co-convener of the Oxford Queer Studies Network and a DPhil candidate in the English Faculty at the University of Oxford. The inaugural Stuart Hall Doctoral Studentship, in association with Merton College, the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities and the Stuart Hall Foundation, supports her research on the world-making capacity of collaborative works by self-described gays and girls from communities formerly classified “Coloured” in Cape Town, South Africa, from 1950 to the present, with a specific focus on the Kewpie Photographic Collection. Ruth’s writing has appeared in GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies.

‘Party Politics and Grassroots Organising’

with David Lammy and Amina Gichinga

In the second of the #ReconstructionWork series, ‘Parliamentary Politics and Grassroots Organising’, David Lammy and Amina Gichinga discussed how best to effect political change through grassroots activism and the parliamentary system, whilst taking into consideration the role of community, culture and theories of change.

Speakers

After being elected for the 7th time as the Member of Parliament for Tottenham in December 2019, David Lammy was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Justice. He became the first black MP to hold the Justice post, either in government or opposition. This appointment concluded a busy year for David, who has fought for justice on behalf of the Windrush Generation, spearheaded the struggle to resist Brexit, campaigned for a humane immigration system, sought to protect vulnerable teenagers from surging knife-crime, re-applied pressure on the Government to compensate the victims of the Grenfell Tower Fire and continued to expose racial bias within the British criminal justice system. These are just some of the issues that David explores in his recently published book, Tribes, an exploration of both the benign and malign effects of our very human need to belong.

Amina Gichinga is a musician, a speaker and a community organiser. Amina became disillusioned with the elitist environment of parliament in her teens and turned to grassroots activism in Newham, where she’s always lived. Wanting to demonstrate a radical approach to how party politics could be done differently, she stood as Take Back the City’s GLA candidate for the City and East Constituency in the 2016 Mayoral & London Assembly elections. Since early 2018 she has worked as an organiser with London Renters Union, organising with local tenants in Newham & Leytonstone to harness their collective power. Amina combined her love of music with her dedication to social justice and founded Nawi Collective, an all-black women and non-binary femmes choir, in 2017.

‘Looking Back to Look Forward’

with Gary Younge and Lola Olufemi

In the first of the #ReconstructionWork series, ‘Looking Back to Look Forward’ writer and academic Gary Younge and black feminist writer, organiser and researcher Lola Olufemi explored how histories of black cultural and political activism can help us construct just and equal futures, working across different generations and geographies.

Speakers

Lola Olufemi is a black feminist writer, organiser and researcher from London. She holds an undergraduate degree in English Literature from the University of Cambridge and an MA in Gender Studies from SOAS, University of London. Her work focuses on the uses of the feminist imagination and its relationship with futurity. She is co-author of A FLY Girl’s Guide to University (2019), author of Feminism Interrupted: Disrupting Power (2020), a member of ‘bare minimum’, an interdisciplinary anti-work arts collective and the recipient of the techne AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership between The Stuart Hall Foundation, CREAM and Westminster School of Arts.

Gary Younge is an award-winning journalist, author and professor of sociology at Manchester University.  He has written five books, most recently Another Day in the Death of America, which was awarded the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize from Columbia Journalism School and Nieman Foundation. Gary worked for The Guardian for 26 years where he was a columnist and the US correspondent for 12 years, returning to become the paper’s editor-at-large and leaving for Manchester University in April 2020. He is also the Alfred Knobler Fellow for Type Media and on the editorial board of The Nation in the US.