Picket Line Perspectives

Open Letter in Defence of Black British History at Goldsmiths

As scholars invested in the study and survival of Black British History we are outraged by the proposed cuts to fifty-two professional support staff and academics in the English and History departments at Goldsmiths University. Among them are leading historians responsible for establishing Britain’s first MA in Black British History in September 2019. 

Goldsmiths’ senior management states that their proposal ‘includes an expectation of the continuation of areas including Creative Writing, Black British History, Black British and Caribbean Literature and Queer Studies as vital areas of academic endeavour’. However, this is not the same as making a commitment to keep the dedicated MA or the experts teaching the course on their current contracts. The proposed redundancies are an astonishingly retrograde plan threatening the survival of a field essential to understanding the nation’s and, indeed, world’s past and present. The plan also threatens a unique training ground for future researchers and teachers. If implemented, Black students will also lose a vital opportunity to explore their own histories, often for the first time.

Black British History has always been preserved and taught outside universities by communities of African and African-Caribbean heritage. The question now is whether Goldsmiths and other UK universities are willing to provide more than lip-service to this field by resourcing the academics, research and curriculum necessary to deliver on longstanding demands for change.


Kerry Pimblott, Lecturer, University of Manchester 

Sadiah Qureshi, Associate Professor, University of Birmingham

Kennetta Hammond Perry, Reader and Director of Stephen Lawrence Research Centre, De Montfort University

Meleisa Ono-George, Associate Professor and Brittenden Fellow, The Queen’s College, University of Oxford

Caroline Bressey, Reader in Cultural and Historical Geography, University College London

Liam J. Liburd, Assistant Professor of Black British History, Durham University

Olivette Otele, Professor of History, University of Bristol

Professor David Olusoga, University of Manchester 

Kristy Warren, Research Associate, University of Leicester

Rob Waters, Lecturer, Queen Mary University of London

Rochelle Rowe, Lecturer in Black British History, University of Edinburgh

Richard Drayton, Professor of Imperial and Global History, King’s College London

Kieran Connell, Senior Lecturer in Contemporary British History, Queen’s University Belfast

Jack Webb, Lecturer in Modern British History, University of Manchester

Shirin Hirsch, Senior Lecturer, Manchester Met and People’s History Museum. 

Theo Williams, Lecturer in Twentieth-century British History, Durham University

Radhika Natarajan, Assistant Professor of History and Humanities, Reed College, Portland, OR, USA

Marc Matera, Associate Professor of History, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA

James Vernon, Helen Fawcett Distinguished Professor of History, University of California, Berkeley

Jeff Schauer, Associate Professor of History, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, USA

Imaobong Umoren, Associate Professor of International History, London School of Economics and Political Science

Matthew J. Smith, Professor of History and Director, Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery, University College London 

Jordanna Bailkin, Jere L. Bacharach Endowed Professor in International Studies, University of Washington

Joy Dixon, Associate Professor of History, University of British Columbia, Vancouver 

Carina Ray, Associate Professor of African and African American Studies, Coplan Chair of Social Sciences, Brandeis University

Elleke Boehmer, Professor of World Literature in English, University of Oxford, UK

Utathya Chattopadhyaya, Assistant Professor, History, University of California Santa Barbara

Dana Rabin, Professor of History, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Karen Flynn, Associate Professor, Gender and Women’s Studies, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign 

Sukanya Banerjee, Associate Professor, English, University of California, Berkeley

Dhanveer Singh Brar, Lecturer in Black British History, University of Leeds

Malachi McIntosh, Editor and Publishing Director, Wasafiri 

Leslie James, Senior Lecturer in Global HIstory, Queen Mary University of London

Kate Dossett, Professor of American History, University of Leeds. 

Alex Bamji, Associate Professor of Early Modern History, University of Leeds

Elisabeth Leake, Associate Professor of International History, University of Leeds

Jake Subryan Richards, Assistant Professor of International History, London School of Economics and Political Science

Laura King, Associate Professor in Modern British History, University of Leeds

Camilla Schofield, Associate Professor in Modern History, University of East Anglia

Stephen Tuck, Professor of Modern History, University of Oxford

Claire Eldridge, Associate Professor of Modern European History, University of Leeds

Mrinalini Sinha, Professor, University of Michigan

Jessica Meyer, Associate Professor of Modern British History, University of Leeds

Charles Forsdick, James Barrow Professor of French, University of Liverpool

Susan D. Pennybacker, Poston Professor of History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Lisa Palmer, Associate Professor and Deputy Director of the Stephen Lawrence Research Centre, De Montfort University

Charlotte Lydia Riley, Lecturer in twentieth century British history, University of Southampton

Colin Prescod, Chair, Institute of Race Relations, London

Kesewa John, Associate Lecturer (Teaching), University College London

Hannah Cusworth, PhD researcher, University of Hull 

Joshua B. Guild, Associate Professor of History and African American Studies, Princeton University

Natasha Lightfoot, Associate Professor of History, Columbia University

Anne-Marie Angelo, Senior Lecturer in History, University of Sussex

Minkah Makalani, Associate Professor of History, Johns Hopkins University

Safina Islam, Head of Ahmed Iqbal Ullah RACE Centre and Education Trust, University of Manchester 

Simon Peplow, Associate Professor in 20th Century British History, University of Warwick 

W. Chris Johnson, Assistant Professor of Women and Gender Studies and History, University of Toronto 

Philippa J Levine, William Prescott Webb Chair in History & Ideas and Director, Programme in British, Irish & Empire Studies, University of Texas at Austin

Hannah Robbins, Assistant Professor of Popular Music and Director of Black Studies, University of Nottingham

Rohini Kahrs, Communications Manager, Runnymede Trust

Michael Joseph, Assistant Professor of Black British History, University of Cambridge

Melissa Free, Assistant Professor of English, Arizona State University

James Cantres Assistant Professor of African, Puerto Rican, Latino Studies at Hunter College, City University of New York


  1. totally agree – add my name

    Neil A Wynn, Emeritus Professor 20th Century American History, University of Gloucestershire

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *