King’s History department has launched a partnership with the Black Cultural Archives that will develop a new jointly-taught module.
The relationship was inaugurated with a public lecture by Paul Reid, the archives’ director, introduced by King’s Principal and President Professor Ed Byrne. The partnership will include a second year undergraduate module jointly by Dr Alana Harris and BCA staff.
25 years of the Black Cultural Archives
The Black Cultural Archives was founded in 1981 with a mission to collect, preserve and celebrate the heritage and history of Black people in Britain. It opened the UK’s first dedicated Black Heritage Centre in Brixton, London in July 2014. BCA’s collection includes personal papers, the records of political and cultural organisations, photographs, and a small collection of objects. Since 2014 it has hosted a series of exhibitions on subjects which range from Black Georgians to Black sound from the early twentieth century to now.
At the opening lecture ‘The Black Cultural Archives: Towards a National Institution’, Paul Reid spoke about the moment in the early 1980s when the BCA was founded, and argued for the importance of long-term institution-building in the struggle to have Black history – and Black people – recognised as part of the national history of Britain. Professor Byrne linked the partnership to the aims expressed in King’s new strategic vision, particularly the aspiration for King’s to become London’s civic university with deep connections to the life of the city beyond academia.
Black in the Union Jack, a new undergraduate module
The joint King’s-BCA module, ‘Black in the Union Jack’, will begin in September 2017, and will be partially be taught at the BCA in Brixton. Students will explore the experience of African and African-Caribbean communities in the UK, and will develop research projects with hands-on access to the resources in the BCA’s collections.
In addition, the BCA and King’s historians are working together on a school syllabus on African history, and will develop a series of events on the place of Black history in Britain’s national narratives over the coming year.
‘No10 and the History of the Prime Minister’ is the result of a unique collaboration between No 10 Downing Street, the Policy Institute at King’s and the Department of Political Economy where students gain unprecedented insight into the theory and practice of British Political and governmental history since the Second World War from those who have dealt with it first hand. It is taught by Dr Jon Davis and co-taught by doctoral candidate Michelle Clement. When possible the class is co-taught by the Prime Minister’s Principal Private Secretary and Visiting Senior Research Fellow Dr Simon Case.
The modules feature many special guest lecturers including; the Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood in a class taught around the Cabinet Table in Number 10 Downing Street; the first UK Security and Intelligence Coordinator Sir David Omand, Former cabinet secretaries Lord Wilson of Dinton and Lord Butler of Brockwell; Constitutional historian Lord Hennessy of Nympsfield and Professor in History and Foreign Policy at the War Studies Department at King’s College London John Bew. The course concluded with former Prime Minister David Cameron talking to students at King’s College London on the subject of ‘Being Prime Minister.’
‘The Blair Years’ is a module taught by Dr Jon Davis and Visiting Professor John Rentoul (biographer of Tony Blair and Chief Political Commentator, The Independent) which examines Tony Blair as Prime Minister. Special attention is given to the memoirs and diaries of the central protagonists including Tony Blair, Alastair Campbell, Peter Mandelson and Jonathan Powell.
The module features testimony from key practitioners. In 2017 these were; Tony Blair’s former Director of Government Relations Anji Hunter; former Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell; former HM Treasury Permanent Secretary Lord Macpherson of Earls Court; former Secretary of State for Education and Chief Economic Advisor to the Treasury Ed Balls; former Minister for Education and Secretary of State for transport Lord Adonis; former Permanent Under Secretary of State for the Ministry of Defence Sir Kevin Tebbit and Tony Blair’s former Director of Communications and Strategy Alastair Campbell.
KCBH’s Alana Harris, Laura Carter, and Maggie Scull recently installed a ‘pop up’ exhibition of portraits in the Institute of Historical Research, featuring pictures of women historians who were active in the ‘intellectual space’ of London since the foundation of the IHR in 1921. Seen alongside the existing portraits of past IHR Directors, these images seek to tell an alternative story of historical activity in twentieth-century Britain, and put gender at the heart of the development of the profession.
This exhibition was organised and funded by the department of history at King’s College London. It was launched at a conference on 13 March 2017, to coincide with Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day 2017. It will remain on display for all to see at the IHR over the spring and summer of 2017.
The women historians featured in the exhibit include Eileen Power, Rhoda Power, Caroline Skeel, Lillian Penson, Joyce Godber, Joan Thirsk, Leonore Davidoff, Lisa Jardine, Helen Maud Cam, Margaret Gowing, Eleanor Carus Wilson, Ellen McArthur, Lilian Knowles, Rosalind Hill, Dona Torr, Olive Anderson, Frances Yates, Patricia (Trisha) Crawford, Vera Anstey and Mary Stocks.
Thirty years ago There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack: The Cultural Politics of Race and Nation was published. BBC Radio 3’s Philip Dodd talks to the author Professor Paul Gilroy about its impact and whether discussions about race and culture in Britain have moved on or not. You can catch the interview here.
The Study of Contemporary British History at King's College London