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  • Kerry Pimblott

Our Year in Review - 2022/23

Updated: Jun 6, 2023

This year marked the fifth anniversary of the Race, Roots & Resistance Collective at the University of Manchester!

Formed in 2018, the Collective brings together staff, students and community members from across the North West with the aim of advancing critical study and action respondent to race and racism in the spaces we live, study and work.

The last year has been a busy one, so lets take a look back on some of the highlights together…

The Legacies of Slavery at UoM Research Network

Over the past three years, postgraduate students from programmes across School of Arts, Languages and Cultures (SALC) who have enrolled in HIST64101/65101: Race, Migration & Humanitarianism have had the opportunity to participate in a special research workshop dedicated to examining the relationship of key benefactors to the University of Manchester’s predecessor institutions, Owens College and Manchester Mechanics Institute, to histories of racial slavery. This workshop has been led by Dr Kerry Pimblott (Manchester) in partnership with Dr Matthew Stallard (UCL, Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery), Dr Mary Booth (Centre for the Study of International Slavery), and staff at the John Rylands Research Institute (JRRI).

Upon completion of the 2021/22 module, the Race, Roots & Resistance Collective secured funding from the University’s Social Responsibility scheme to launch an ‘Emerging Scholars’ summer programme in which a group of students from the module were employed as researchers to support the development of the first student-led exhibition to be delivered at the JRRI in September 2023. We also established the Legacies of Slavery at the UoM Research Network, which includes the student researchers and a wider team of academics and archivists.

Our Emerging Scholars at the John Rylands Library

The initiative is spurred by a growing international movement to critically examine the historical connections between universities and slavery as well as their contemporary legacies. Exemplified by the work of the Universities Study Slavery (USS) consortium, a transnational collaboration of +100 universities led by the University of Virginia, this movement has gained increased support from UK institutions since the University of Glasgow launched an unprecedented examination of the institution’s historic relationship with slavery in 2018.

In 2019, Manchester joined USS, and has since then followed through on commitments made in the 2020 Race Matters Report to commission preliminary research into the institutions links with slavery, resulting in a public statement as well as an official report by Dr Natalie Zacek and Professor Nalin Thakkar.

The Legacies of Slavery at UoM Research Network builds upon these developments with the aim of providing a diverse team of PGT researchers with unique, paid opportunities to develop professional skills and advance understanding of the Universities relationships to histories of slavery and colonialism as well as modes of redress.

In 2022/23, Race, Roots & Resistance employed two additional Emerging Scholars to work in partnership with Network members to finalise the exhibition’s interpretation and begin planning for a wider programme of public engagement. We look forward to the opening of the exhibition later this year.

R3 Africana Studies Lecture Series

This year we hosted a number of public lectures and film screenings.

In February we hosted a screening of When Women Speak (Ghana, 2022), a pathbreaking film by Director Aseye Tamakloe documenting and narrating women’s activism in postcolonial Ghana. The screening was followed by a Q&A with Tamakloe as well as collaborators Professor Akosua Adomako Ampofo (University of Ghana) and Dr Kate Skinner (University of Birmingham).

In May, we joined the Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies’ in co-hosting Dr Chloe Ireton (UCL) for a talk entitled, ‘Tracing a History of Black Thought in 16th-century Sevilla. This talk emerged from Ireton’s current book project, Slavery & Freedom in Black Thought in the Early Spanish Atlantic. The project traces how enslaved and free Black Africans reckoned with the brutal violence of the Atlantic world that they were forced to inhabit, and the different ways that they engaged with and shaped the intellectual life of colonial societies.

R3 Workings in Progress Seminar

The Race, Roots & Resistance Collective also hosts a Works in Progress Seminar which aims to provide a supportive and critical space for researchers – including staff, students, and independent/community scholars – to share their work. This year we hosted two workshops featuring the work of a multidisciplinary group of scholars. If you would be interested in joining the seminar next year please email us at

Caribbean Studies Seminar Series

This year, the Caribbean Studies Seminar Series, organised in collaboration with the Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (University of London), has convened six online events. These seminars have ranged across disciplines to consider questions of citizenship, sexuality, climate change and the Caribbean diaspora in Britain. They are available to view on YouTube here.

R3 Fourth Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium

This year we saw the return of the Race, Roots & Resistance Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium!

This event is designed to spotlight and celebrate new research undertaken by undergraduate students in Arts, Humanities and Social Science subjects at the University of Manchester. We have a dual focus on supporting a new generation of multi-ethnic researchers and advancing critical research on race, racism, and anti-racism. Accordingly, submissions for the event are encouraged from students of colour on any research topic and from all students engaged in critical race-related projects.

This year the event was co-organised by a team of historians including Dr Kerry Pimblott, Dr Anastasiia Akulich, and Dr Jesús F. Cháirez-Garza, and graciously sponsored by the SALC Student Experience Fund.

We kicked off the day with a panel on Race, Ethnicity, Gender and the Politics of Artistic Expression chaired by Dr Felicia Chan (Drama). Courtney Brown (History) opened the panel with a presentation on their dissertation exploring the gendered dynamics of films produced by Black British directors between the 1970s and 1990s. Mae Connolly (History and American Studies) delivered a fascinating account of the cultural diplomacy of jazz musician Dizzy Gillespie and his participation in a 1956 state sponsored tour of North Africa. We closed the panel with a pathbreaking account by Tabita-Gabriela Juravle (Economics and Social Studies) into Romni cinematic representations in the Balkans.

Students present at the R3 UG Symposium

Our second panel focused on Racial Politics in Contemporary Britain and was chaired by Dr Meghan Tinsley (Sociology). Moleka Newman (History and Sociology) delivered an archivally driven account of the Black Supplementary School Movement in Britain between 1965 and 1998. This was followed by Gemma Rees (Social Anthropology and Politics) exploration of mixed-race identity and

heritage in the UK. Finally, Sylvia Masters (Sociology and Social Anthropology) offered a provocative account of the impact of hostile environment policies on access to healthcare services in Britain.

The third panel explored the Colonial and Neo-colonial Politics of Race and was chaired by Dr Anastasiia Akulich (History). Molly Davies (History) delivered a paper on the complexities of transnational solidarity building between Chinese women and Protestant women missionaries in late 19th and early 20th century China. Hari Kandiah (History and Economics) presented on the impact of Reconstruction on African Americans with a particular eye on the epoch’s economic limits with the failure of land reform and ushering in of the sharecropping system.

R3 Awards Ceremony 2023

At the conclusion of the symposium, we hosted the second Race, Roots & Resistance Awards Ceremony. The event was designed to recognise staff and students who have made a different in anti-racist research, teaching and activism. Award categories included ‘Award for Research Excellence’, ‘Award for Outstanding Contributions to Anti-Racist Scholar-Activism’, and ‘Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Promotion of Inclusive Learning Environment’.

This year’s awardees were…

Tabita-Gabriela Jurvale (Library Student Team) for Outstanding Contributions to Anti-Racist Scholar Activism.

‘Tabita has played a vital role in supporting the teaching and learning activities within the Library, particularly in relation to widening access to education… She has planned and delivered a package of materials centred around Romani histories, marginalization and resistance which has included written pieces for educators and students seeking to teach with and learn from Library collections.’

Jeevan Sanghera (Emerging Scholars Programme) for Research Excellence.

‘Jeevan has pioneered new research into the founders and funders of the university’s predecessor institutions drawing upon collections at the John Rylands and University Special Collections… This innovative research will be spotlighted in the forthcoming exhibition to be hosted at the John Rylands in September 2023.’

Maya Sharma, Lianne Smith, and Annie Dickinson (AIU RACE Centre) for Outstanding Contributions to the Promotion of Inclusive Learning Environments.

‘The work that the AIU Team are doing with our students is integral to our collective efforts to create pipelines that support the development of a new generation of diverse historians and heritage sector workers capable of challenging the erasures, silences and omissions in modern British history as well as global histories.’

Supporting Our Wider Communities

This year, the Race, Roots & Resistance Collective also collaborated with several organisations in our local community to advance anti-racist work and empowerment.

In January 2023, we participated and co-sponsored the Louise Da-Cocodia Education Trusts’ (LDET) annual Book Fair and Cultural Festival.

The event grows out of the Louise Da-Cocodia Education Trusts’ mission to provide relevant and accessible education to young people of African and Caribbean heritage, so they can fulfil their potential and aspirations. Named after Louise Da-Cocodia MBE, one of Manchester’s leading anti-racism campaigners and community activists, the Trust was initially established to offer financial support to students of African and Caribbean heritage enrolled on college and university courses. Since its founding, the Trust has expanded its educational activities to include a supplementary school, a parent and pupil engagement network, and Young Leaders programme aimed at inspiring young people to not only empower themselves but also their respective communities. As part of the festival, the LDET hosted an Engaging Young Writers project in which local school pupils submitted entries and received awards for creative work on the theme of ‘Belonging’.

In May 2023, we also helped to organise the Come What May community gathering at Ascension Church Hulme.

This event brought together local artists and musicians, creative enterprises and a range of social justice and sustainability initiatives for four days of coordinated activities. It also presented an opportunity to mark the 75th Anniversary of the Windrush generation with drumming workshops, spoken word, music, and food.

Viraj Mendis Defence Campaign event at Ascension Church Hulme in May

As part of the festival, Dr Kerry Pimblott (History) worked with members of the Radical Reading Room Collective to host a special event in recognition of the Viraj Mendis Defence Campaign and its legacies. During the late 1980s, Ascension Church was the site of one of the nation’s most protracted sanctuary campaigns to defend Viraj Mendis, a former UMIST student, from deportation. Sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of the Grassroots Struggles, Global Visions project, this event featured talks by Viraj Mendis, Anthony Brown of Windrush Defenders Legal, spoken word poetry by Christxpher Oliver and Young Identity, and live music from the Caulbearers and Uhuru and the Singers. Also on display were collections related to Viraj Mendis and other anti-deportation campaigns by the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah RACE Centre and the Working Class Movement Library. Representatives of a wide range of contemporary activist and charitable organisations actively working for the rights of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers also joined us to share their knowledge and insights.

Coming soon....

Manchester's Hidden Histories with Cedar Mount Academy

As the semester draws to a close, we are also working toward completion of an innovative collaboration between the Manchester Historian magazine and pupils at Cedar Mount Academy in Gorton.

The Manchester Historian team at Cedar Mount for a writer's workshop in February 2023

The next issue of the student-led publication will focus on 'hidden histories' of Manchester and is published in partnership with Cedar Mount pupils. Over the past year, we have held a series of talks and workshops leading to the pupils authoring a variety of exciting articles for publication in the forthcoming issue on topics ranging from Olive Morris's radical political work in Manchester to the dark history of our city's abandoned train tunnels. Together the pupils articles highlight themes of race, empire, class and culture. Keep your eyes peeled for the next issue!

Windrush Public Lecture by Prof William 'Lez' Henry

On the 16th June, Prof William ‘Lez’ Henry, ‘Thoughts on the Windrush Generations: the Black Contribution to the British Experience!’ will deliver a public lecture highlighting many of the hidden struggles for equal rights and social justice of Black people in Britain and their contributions to ‘British’ lifestyles and culture. More information, and booking details can be found here.



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