The Institute for Black Atlantic Research (IBAR) is well known for its exciting calendar of events, including annual lectures by esteemed Black Atlantic scholars, research seminars and conferences, public engagement events (organised principally in partnership with Preston Black History Group) and cultural events.
In recent years, it has played host to a number of particularly exciting events that have been well attended by academics and the wider public. The following are some of the highlights.
After Revolutions: Versions and Re-visions of Haiti
In July 2015, IBAR hosted this conference to bring together a multidisciplinary group of international delegates to debate old and new narratives on Haitian history, politics and culture since its Declaration of Independence in 1804.
The conference was organised by Raphael Hoermann, Marie-Curie Intra-European Research Fellow based in IBAR at UCLan, in collaboration with Kate Hodgson, Charles Forsdick, Wendy Asquith and Jack Webb, scholars from the Centre for the Study of International Slavery in Liverpool.
The two-day event started with a keynote presentation by Professor Matthew J Smith from the University of the West Indies on his paper on ‘Caribbean Reflections on Haiti’s Long Nineteenth Century’. Lubaina Himid MBE, Professor of Contemporary Art at UCLan and IBAR co-director, presented a public lecture on a series of annotated watercolours she made in the 1980s about the imagined everyday life of the leader of the Haitian Revolution, Toussaint L’Ouverture.
A further 36 speakers presented to attendees, who also attended a book launch for Marlene L. Daut’s Tropics of Haiti: Race and the Literary History of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World, 1789-1865. The conference was concluded with a keynote presentation by Gina A. Ulysse, poet, performance and multi-media artist, and professor of anthropology at Wesleyan University, Connecticut. Gina gave an exceptional performance, entitled ‘Why Haiti Needs a Higher Love VI: Meditations on VooDooDoll.’ In the background a slideshow of images of one of her family’s temple was projected.
Writing about the event, PhD student Andrea Sillis commented on the breadth of international and interdisciplinary perspectives brought together by the conference. She added: “This conference certainly provided a highly productive forum for a wide range of diverse yet interconnecting creative and critical responses to ongoing narratives of Haitian history and experience. It has undoubtedly opened up fruitful new opportunities for dialogue, and laid foundations for many future collaborative projects and relationships. It demonstrated the ever increasing momentum of Haitian Studies, including its interactions with Black Atlantic research.”
The Red and the Black – The Russian Revolution and the Black Atlantic
To mark the centenary of the Russian Revolution, IBAR hosted this conference in October 2017.
The Russian Revolution was both a critically important global event in the 20th century and an inspiration across the ‘black Atlantic’ as a blow against racism and imperialism. For colonial subjects of European empires internationally as well as black Americans, the Russian Revolution promised the hope of a world without oppression and exploitation.
This conference explored the impact of the Russian Revolution in 1917 on the African diaspora and the subsequent critical intellectual influence of Marxism and Bolshevism on ‘black internationalism’.
It was well attended by over 100 delegates, including a good turnout from the local black community. Linton Kwesi Johnson – one of only three poets to be published by Penguin Modern Classics while still alive – read some of his dub poetry, and Margaret Stevens launched her book Red International and Black Caribbean.
Keynote speakers included Professor Winston James from the University of California, Irvine, who discussed The Russian Revolution and the Black Radical Imagination. Dr Cathy Bergin from the University of Brighton presented a keynote on Bolshevism and the African American Radical Press (see video), and Professor Hakim Adi from the University of Chichester spoke on Pan-Africanism and Communism. Marika Sherwood discussed the origins of the Cold War in the Gold Coast, and Lydia Lindsay spoke about Grace P Campbell. Theresa Saxon and Lisa Merrill presented on Paul Robeson and the USSR, while Tayo Aluko performed the songs of Paul Robeson. There was also a poetry reading by Olga Tabichnikova and songs of significance were performed by David Rovics.
The final plenary panel featured Winston James, Fionnghuala Sweeney, Alan Rice and Maxim Matusevich.
Women’s Spring: Feminism, Nationalism and Civil Disobedience
IBAR has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme to host an exciting and very topical conference in June 2018.
The Women’s Spring conference is being held in partnership with openDemocracy 50.50 at the Cornelia Goethe Center (Goethe University, Frankfurt), and International Development and Inclusive Innovation, Strategic Research Area (The Open University), De Gruyter Open.
Confirmed keynote speakers include:
- Prof. Cathy J. Cohen, The University of Chicago
- Dr Umut Erel, International Development and Inclusive Innovation, Sociology Department and International Development and Inclusive Innovation (The Open University)
- Prof. Lubaina Himid, 2017 Turner Prize Winner, University of Central Lancashire
- Prof. Dr. Helma Lutz, the Cornelia Goethe Center at Goethe University, Frankfurt
- Prof. Ewa Mazierska, University of Central Lancashire
- Prof. Toby Miller, University of California, Riverside; Loughborough University London
- Pragna Patel, Southall Black Sisters
- Prof. Nira Yuval-Davis, Research Centre on Migration, Refugees and Belonging (CMRB) at the University of East London
The aim of this conference is to explore the ways in which female activists and artists responded the resurgence of the far-right nationalism and the twin evil of religious fundamentalism.
A closer look will be taken at grassroots emancipatory movements and women-led voluntary associations, as well as cultural texts by women – performances, installations, artworks, films and novels – in which authors take a stance against religious bigotry, xenophobia, homophobia, racism and misogyny. Contributions are also invited that focus on women’s endorsement of and participation in ultra-conservative national and orthodox religious campaigns.