The Public History Discussion Group 2011/12

The Public History Discussion Group, formerly known as the Ruskin Public History Discussion Group, will be meeting regularly at the Bishopsgate Institute. This is a few minutes walk from Liverpool Street station (in the direction of Shoreditch and Spitalfields market) and on the corner with Brushfield Street. All sessions begin promptly at 11 and will finish before 1. Please bring your own coffee – lots of places are open nearby.

Saturday November 5th: Revealing the Rookery, St. Giles – Art, Artifacts and Anecdotes

Jane Palm-Gold (Artist and curator) & Sian Anthony (former Senior Archaeologist at Museum of London Archaeology)

The recent ‘London’s Underworld Unearthed: The Secret Life of the Rookery’ exhibition in London, illustrated everyday life in the notorious St. Giles Rookery. ‘Revealing the Rookery’ seeks to further explore the narratives presented in the exhibition, using recollections, prints and archaeology. The talk will be presented by Jane Palm-Gold (artist and curator behind the exhibition) and Sian Anthony, former Senior Archaeologist at Museum of London Archaeology, who led the excavation into the foundations of Central Saint Giles, the site of the Rookery.
This event will be held in the Bishopsgate Library main board room. Please note access is via stairs.

Saturday 3rd December: Young Historians Take to the Street: School students tackling the big picture of race, protest and immigration control

Martin Spafford

In 1995, thirty 11 year olds in an East London school spent several months looking at the world of asylum seekers and the politics of immigration control. Last year, ten 15 year olds from the same school worked with historians to investigate fascist assaults on the East End over time and how local people have responded. These projects took them onto the streets, into detention centres, to Parliament and even into direct confrontation with organised racism. Present and former students from George Mitchell School will show clips from their films and discuss with their teacher Martin Spafford the impact of such projects – at the time and in later life – on their politics and values.

This event will be held in the Bishopsgate Library main board room. Please note access is via stairs.

Saturday 4th February: The 1984/85 Miners’ Strike: Re-claiming Cultural Heritage

Michael Bailey (University of Essex) & Simon Popple (University of Leeds)

Shortly after the 1984/85 miners’ strike had come to an end, the socialist historian Raphael Samuel noted that the meaning of the strike would be determined not ‘by the terms of settlement … or even by the events of the past year but by the way in which it is assimilated in popular memory, by … retrospective understanding both in the pit villages themselves and in the country at large’. The significance of Samuel’s remark is that, though the 1984/85 strike was a decisive defeat for mining communities, it is imperative that such communities are encouraged to participate in the creation of new representations and social rituals that seek to democratise the mediation of the strike. Not only because such texts hold out the promise of raising public awareness of what actually happened twenty-five years ago but because they also provide affirmation for those miners and families most affected by the strike-action and the subsequent closure of pits. This presentation discusses the two AHRC/BBC funded projects undertaken on this between autumn 2007 and summer 2009 by a small team from the Institute of Communications Studies, University of Leeds.

This event will be held in the Bishopsgate Library Courtyard room, which is lift accessible

Saturday March 10th: Memory, Place, Identity

Christine McCauley MA (RCA) University of Westminster

It started as an exploration of my troubled relationship with my father, a veteran of the Burma conflict during WW2 and resulted in 2 journeys to the North Eastern frontier states of India, searching for the remnants of the British presence there and the ‘ties that bind’ countries and peoples geographically so far apart. As a mixed media artist I use a wide range of media and techniques. The evocative potential of materials and processes is an important part of my practice.

This event will be held in the Bishopsgate Library Goss room, which is lift accessible

Saturday April 28th: Mandeville Legacy: Towards a Public History of Disability

Jon Newman, Archive Consultant

Jon Newman has been working with Buckinghamshire County Council, Stoke Mandeville Hospital and various sports disability charities to assemble a history of the changes to the treatment of spinal injuries patients and the development of wheelchair games – latterly the ‘paralympic’ movement – since the Second World War. Using the Revisiting Collections methodology in conjunction with hospital and charity archive collections he has worked with groups of former patients, athletes, hospital staff and sports administrators to both capture their responses to the ‘official’ record and to create new narratives.

This event will be held in the Bishopsgate Library Courtyard room, which is lift accessible

Further Information:

Please send any queries or suggestions for future sessions, or offers of presentations, to Dr Hilda Kean, convenor of the group.

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