CMNH is working with the University’s interdisciplinary research group on Representation: ‘Race’, Culture and Identity, to develop this emerging research area. The ‘Race’ group addresses the role of historical representation in shaping radical cultural, aesthetic, and political meanings of ‘race’ in the current context. From the election of Obama to the increasingly effective slavery reparations movement, and from South Africa’s post-apartheid complexity to the rise of far-Right parties in Europe, and the reconfiguration of Europe as a fortress, ‘race’ remains a lightening rod telegraphing the fault-line within liberal democracies, and exposing their hidden histories. The group held a successful launch conference “Reparative Histories: Radical Narratives of 'Race', and Resistance” in September 2014. The conference explored critical historical and cultural representations that are rooted in particular histories and cultures and their legacies in the contemporary moment. It questioned what it means to turn to history to appeal for recognition and redress in the present, why the appeal to ‘origins’ remains such a powerful tool of oppression and of resistance, and how traditions of political struggle are currently being rearticulated. The Reparative Histories conference held inaugurated a series of publications and events that have continued to shape and define the contours of our thinking on ‘race’ and radical history. A selection of the papers were edited for a special issue of the journal Race and Class (January 2016) by Dr Cathy Bergin and Dr Anita Rupprecht, who have become members of CMNH.
In the context of this publication, a series of talks and events supplemented and build upon the important links that were established at the conference and in the publication. In November of 2015 Cathy Bergin and Anita Rupprecht presented a joint paper on Reparative Histories at the Repairing the Past, Imagining the Future: Reparations and Beyond conference at the University of Edinburgh. In February 2015 the Institute of Race Relations held a launch of the special issue in London which was attended by a variety of academics and community activists. The journal was also launched at the University of Brighton in March 2016 to open up a series of questions about the contemporary moment in relation to what a ‘Reparative History’ might mean. Colin Prescod’s article ‘Archives, race, class and rage’ in the April 2017 issue of Race and Class both acknowledged the importance of the concept of Reparative Histories and challenged and extended the concept in relation to radical black history in the UK.
The second Reparative Histories conference Reparative Histories 2: The Making, Re-Making and Un-Making of 'Race', 6th - 7th April, 2017 at the University of Brighton emerged out of a culmination of the rich discussions and interventions which the first conference initiated. A whole new set of questions in relation to the resurgence of racism in both Europe and the US have provoked a variety of questions about radical histories of ‘race’ in relation to the present moment. In the spring of 2018 Anita Rupprecht will be the Visiting Research Fellow at the Gilder Lehrman Centre for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition (Yale University). She will be working on her project, ‘Liberated Africans’, Indenture and Resistance in the British Caribbean 1807-1828'’.
Dr Eugene Michail leads the Centre’s work in connection with the refugee crisis. One of the founding members of MARS (Migrant and Refugee Solidarity), Dr Michail works to bring together networks of refugees, migrants, activists and academics. Activities here have included: : with CUPP and the Conflict Cluster, an exhibition, workshop and performance on Art, Refuge and Resistance with artists and activists in October 2015, an event with Freedom From Torture on ‘Proving Torture and the Asylum Maze (April 2017), The Refugee Film Festival, part of the Brighton Fringe Festival in 2017, ‘Refuge Crisis’, an evening of discussion and activism, hosted by the University of Brighton (October 2016), and a series of 8 events marking Refugee Month across the University in May 2016. MRAS convene a regular meeting for Brighton activist groups working with and for refugees and migrants, providing them with an opportunity to exchange ideas and information. This work is underpinned by Dr Michail’s academic work on the refugees, crisis and conflict in the Balkans.