How might we understand the origins and the impact of current controversies raging in Britain over changing interpretations of British colonial history? Corinne Fowler has close personal experience of those controversies. As professor of Colonialism and Heritage at the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester, she directed ‘Colonial Countryside: National Trust Houses Reinterpreted’, a child-led history and writing project guided by a team of historians, and in 2020 she co-authored an audit of peer-reviewed research about National Trust properties’ connections to empire. The publications that resulted gained intense public attention, winning praise from many historians and teachers but opprobrium from some government ministers and Tory MPs.

In this episode of the History Workshop podcast, Professor Fowler reflects on that controversy in a talk delivered in June 2022 at Queen Mary, University of London, as this year’s Raphael Samuel Memorial Lecture. Drawing on her own experience, she considers how those working on British colonial history – whether students or activists, academics or museum professionals – can respond effectively to fraught public discussions. In the process she provides a preview to her forthcoming book,The Countryside: Ten Walks Through Colonial Britain.

Produced by Marybeth Hamilton

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