Public History

Radical Heritage, Art & Culture: The Work of a Thousand Different Hands

On 30 June – 3 July 2016, the Raphael Samuel History Centre will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the death of the socialist historian Raphael Samuel, along with the fortieth anniversary of History Workshop Journal, which he helped to found, with the Radical Histories Conference.

While the main question of Raphael Samuel History Centre Radical Histories/Histories of Radicalism will be ‘what is radical history?’, the history conference and festival will also ask how heritage, art and culture can be radical. We hope that discussions will raise questions about how radical histories are shared with people from all walks of life, and how they can be made more accessible and both involve and reach radical communities.

See Red Women’s Workshop (Creative Commons)

Radical Public Histories

The RSHC is ‘devoted to encouraging the widest possible participation in historical research and debate’. The Radical Histories/Histories of Radicalism conference and festival intends to carry on this idea. The conference papers, presentations and performances given over the three-and-a-half-day event will bring histories of radicalism to a broad audience of performers, artists, students, teachers, local community members and historians.

We’ll hear from heritage practitioners, curators and artists on how to access and preserve radical histories. On Friday morning, a panel on commemorating suffrage activism in Parliament will explore radical history in Parliament, and question how we can make radical histories more visible in the present. On Saturday afternoon we’ll hear about radical archiving and archiving radical histories. On Sunday we’ll hear about radical publishing and alternative visionaries like the Kindred of the Kibbo Kift.


Participatory Events

Co-production and participation is at the heart of some of the scheduled events. You can join in a musical workshop and sing late nineteenth century socialist hymns for Jewish immigrant workers during Sunday’s long lunch break. You can also join in walking tours that will take you through radical histories of the East End and Hackney. Performance and art are central themes of the long weekend, and the programme promises to be both enlightening and entertaining.

Stalls, exhibitions, films and other events will take place at lunch during the long weekend. Pride of Place will be there to collect LGBTQ histories. The project is run by Historic England (previously English Heritage) and Leeds Beckett University. It is radical in multiple senses. The project collects and shares histories of radical LGBTQ lives, of radical sites such as queer squats and alternative housing. It is also a crowdsourced project that aims to collaborate with, be informed by and reach as wide an audience as possible. Radical heritage takes on many methods, and crowdsourcing is just one of them. During the lunch time sessions, you can also hear poetry readings, watch screenings and join workshops that bring to life radical voices, histories and ideas.

Pride of Place banner

Revealing Radical Histories

As Raphael Samuel said, ‘history is the work of a thousand different hands’. The Radical Histories/Histories of Radicalism conference and festival aims to show how radical histories are the work of many hands, from many backgrounds, for many purposes. The organisers, speakers, contributors and audience are from a range of different backgrounds, and have a wealth of different experiences and skills. We hope this will reveal radical histories and bring to light radical ideas of how to share them through heritage, art and culture.

This post was originally published at the Birkbeck Events Blog.

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