Event: We Will Remember Them Exhibition

William Robinson Clarke WW1 RAF pilot from Jamaica, photo courtesy of the Royal Aero club

LAUNCH EVENT:

Friday 22nd September 6:30pm

New Art Exchange

39-40 Gregory Boulevard, Nottingham NG9 6BE

The We Will Remember Them project, funded by the Centre for Hidden Histories, aims to uncover hidden narratives that will strengthen the coverage of under-represented groups in relation to the centenary of the Great War. Empire troops fought in the most infamous battles of the war, including at Ypres and Passhendaele, but the hidden histories of soldiers from the Caribbean and South Asia still need to be recovered and their stories told, not only in scholarly monographs but in other cultural forms too.  Consequently, this project aims to ensure that we try to avoid the real risk that younger generations will conceive of the war as fought entirely by white soldiers.

The research output has been constituted in the form of a travelling exhibition which will facilitate the general public becoming (more) aware of the courage, sacrifice and stories of “Commonwealth” soldiers. The exhibition will tour the East Midlands and London and will launch at New Art Exchange on the 22nd September.

Following the launch, the exhibition will travel to the following venues:

  • 25th-29th September Nottm. County Hall, West Bridgeford NG2 7QP
  • 2nd-5th October Clifton Cornerstone, Southchurch Drive, Clifton NG11 8EW
  • 6th-12th October Bulwell Riverside, Main Street NG6 8QL
  • 12th-18th October Mary Potter Centre, 76 Gregory Blvd. NG7 5YH
  • 18th-23rd October Nottm. Central Library, Angel Row NG1 6HP
  • 23rd-26th October Nottm. City Council, Loxley House, Station Street NG2 3NG
  • 27th October-1st November St Anns Valley Centre, 2 Livingston Rd NG3 3GG

Please contact nottinghamblackarchive@gmail.com for more information.

This project is delivered in association with Renaissance One

Study and Community Events: Leeds, October 2016

Study and Community Events: Leeds, October 2016

On 21st and 22nd October, the Centre was very pleased to support a pair of events in partnership with Leeds City Museum. The events, which were held as part of Black History Month, were designed to examine histories and perspectives that are often overlooked.

The Study Day
The Study Day

On the Friday, a study day, entitled ‘Global Perspectives on World War One, was held at the museum. Papers were presented from a variety of speakers on a wide range of topics including how Black Soldiers and the wider African and Caribbean communities helped Britain during two World Wars, the life of Leeds Pal, Private Jogendra Sen, Chinese Perspectives on the Great War and female nurses’ relationships with non-white soldiers.

Staff from the National Archives, provided insights into the material that they hold on West Africa and South Asia and discussed the challenges of researching this area of the war and the value of examining the war through the themes loyalty and dissent.

On the Saturday, the museum opened its magnificent Broderick Hall for a community day called ‘Peoples’ Pathways: Soldiers from Overseas in World War One’. This event was largely performance-based, with music, spoken word and interactive talks.

Russell Smith as 2nd Lt Walter Tull
Russell Smith as 2nd Lt Walter Tull

Community historian Jahan Mahmood brought items from his travelling military museum and gave an illuminating talk on Muslim perspectives on the war. Russell Smith performed a monologue in character as Walter Tull, footballer and British Army officer and the event was rounded off with a beautiful performance of the World War One inspired Sacred Songs by Alchemy and SAA UK.

The topics were intentionally varied but nevertheless a few connecting themes emerged. One was the sheer range of stories that can be told about the war; so many that it’s possible to see the First World War not as one conflict, but many. It is important to reflect on these multiple ways of seeing history, not least because it confirms the value in having so many people take the time to explore the aspect of the war that most interests them.

Another theme to emerge was the depth of history required to even begin exploring the war. Most of the sessions examined histories with connections to the histories of empire and colonialism. Any thorough reflection of the global First World War must necessarily begin with the history of the European empires and the patterns of movement and control that developed way before 1914. So too is the history of Black and Asian people in Britain. This is also a long-term history and one that supports the view that the First World War is but a moment in a far longer set of stories about how people, willingly or otherwise, come together and find themselves sharing a common, albeit distinctive, histories.

Dulmial Gun presentation video

Dr Irfan Malik’s Dulmial Gun project gave us one of our most popular blog posts when we covered it back in September. Dr Malik recently gave a talk about his work at a study day organised by Voices of War & Peace and held at the Library of Birmingham.

In this video, filmed by Abhinay Khoparzi, Dr Malik can be seen outlining the origins of his interest, the historical background of the gun itself, and its meaning for Dulmial.

 

Dulmial Village contribution in World War 1 by Dr Irfan Malik from Gohar Sultan on Vimeo.

One in six: the Indian subcontinent and the First World War

Our colleagues at Voices of War and Peace have been working with The National Archives to plan the following events that many of you will find of great interest. Both sessions will take place at Library of Birmingham.

640px-33rd_Punjabi_Army_(Commander_Punjabi_Subadar)_by_A_C_Lovett

One hundred years ago, undivided India provided Britain with a massive volunteer army in its hour of need. From 1914-1918 close to 1.5 million Indians served, fighting in all the major theatres of war from Flanders Fields in Belgium to the Mesopotamian oil fields of present day Iraq. One in six of the service personnel under British command was from the Indian subcontinent. Because of this there are many connections to be made between Britain’s South Asian communities and this landmark conflict.

Talk: Indian soldiers, the British Army and the First World War

Wednesday 15 April 2015, 12.00-13.00, Heritage Learning Space, Floor 4

William Spencer – Principal Military Specialist, The National Archives

Jahan Mahmood – Independent military historian.

What was the contribution of Indian soldiers to the British Army in the First World War?

Further information:  nationalarchives.gov.uk/Birmingham-fww

Booking: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/one-in-six-the-indian-subcontinent-and-the-first-world-war-tickets-16016214930

 

Drop-in session: your heritage, your history with The National Archives

Wednesday 15 April 2015, 13.00-16.00, Book Rotunda

Do you have family stories about India and the First World War that you would like to share? Would you like to find out how to research your own family or community’s First World War stories? This informal drop in session is designed to offer something for everyone who has an interest in the First World War from a South Asian perspective. Bring your photographs, medals, documents or just your questions to us so we can all help tell the story of this amazing contribution. Come along and meet the team from The National Archives and Asian community groups who can help you to explore your First World War heritage.

Booking: No need to book, just turn up

From Bombay to the Western Front

On Tuesday evening, I attended a commemorative event at the Imperial War Museum North. It had been organised to reflect on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Neuve Chapelle, which was the first major offensive to involve the British Indian Army.

Among the speakers at the event was Dr Santanu Das, of the English department at Kings College London. Dr Das, who is an expert in the culture and literature of the First World War, made the argument that while the First World War is often defined as the ‘clash of empires’, it could equally be defined as a watershed event in the history of cultural encounters in Europe.

Dr Das has been leading an international and interdisciplinary team of researchers and a number of cultural institutions across Europe to illuminate and examine this question during the centennial years of the war’s commemoration.

In this film we see how Dr Das has partnered with Imperial War Museum, London, In Flanders Fields Museum, Ypres, and the Museum of European Culture, Berlin to scour their (and many other) vast archives for letters, photographs, literary texts, sketches, artefacts, newspapers, and audio recordings. We see how all these sources are being brought together to be examined side-by-side, in order to piece together a fuller picture of the experience of the Indian troops and labourers, and the Europeans who they came into contact with.