Launch of Common Cause report on BME community-university partnerships

The Common Cause project emerged from the AHRC/ESRC ‘Connected Communities’ programme and responds to evident gaps in University/community engagement identified in the Creating Living Knowledge report. Common Cause has allowed also close collaboration with the AHRC ‘Translating Cultures’ theme, a portfolio of now 120 projects exploring the need for research that studies and furthers communication and understanding between, across and within different cultures. Several of those projects – a large grant, Researching Multilingually, that has allowed researchers at the University of Glasgow to work with organisations such as Pan-African Arts Scotland; a partnership between Liverpool Hope University and Milpfest, Indian music and arts organisation – have been key case studies in the work underpinning this report. Much of the work of ‘Translating Cultures’ has focused on the diversity of the UK: working in linguistically superdiverse communities to understand new forms of communication that emerge when over 50 languages are spoken; collaborating with poets and musicians to translate into creative practice research on translation and multilingualism; reflecting on social cohesion, and foregrounding the work on those histories, memories, languages and cultures that are key to understanding how this might be enhanced.

‘Translating Cultures’ reflects in a single thematic programme many of the wider concerns of the Arts and Humanities: across the Arts and Humanities, we deal with diverse histories, often engaging with those of minoritized communities and grappling with the legacies of colonialism and slavery; our disciplines teach and study a range of languages, including increasingly those community languages often marginalized in policy and formal education; we gather and analyse the narratives recounting the experiences – individual and collective – of our fellow citizens; we focus on artistic production, with an increasing interest in community-led projects.

None of this work is possible without connections with a breadth of communities in the UK, including BME communities. We are increasingly understanding the importance of collaboration / co-creation, not only as means to enhance the impact of research but also as a key element of the design of research itself. We still, however, have a long way to go. The Common Cause report is essential reading for all researchers in Arts and Humanities. It does not, however, make for comfortable reading: it is not surprising that this is on occasion a story of deep mistrust, of structural inequalities, of universities operating as unwelcoming and often inaccessible white spaces, of low levels of BME staff amongst faculty, of patchy cultural competence among academics. But it also provides a positive blueprint for the future, with new forms of brokerage and support, identification of new spaces of engagement, suggesting fresh ways of discerning mutual interest and discovering common ground. The report contains clear guidelines on running projects successfully, on communication and relationship building, on recognising community expertise, on having difficult conversations, on working in multiple languages, in short: on changing the university and on changing the ways in which it engages with the communities of the UK in their rich breadth and diversity.

Common Cause outlines the possibility of a more inclusive set of Arts and Humanities research practices, engaging equitably with minority ethnic communities, seeking sustainable ways of working together, harnessing the often-unrealised potential for collaboration and partnerships across the full range of disciplines we represent. The report is essential reading for all researchers, community groups, funders and administrators committed to furthering these goals.

Translating Cultures: French Caribbean History, Literature and Migration

Translating Cultures: French Caribbean History, Literature and Migration
Monday 24 September 2018, 10.15 -17:00, British Library Knowledge Centre
A study day organised in partnership with the AHRC ‘Translating Cultures’ theme, the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library and the Institut français
This study day brings together leading specialists to uncover the rich and diverse cultures of the  French Caribbean and its diaspora. Themes include history, heritage and migration, literature and translation, and visual arts.
Full programme below, and details of registration here:
The study day is organised in the context of the British Library exhibition ‘Windrush: Songs in a Strange Land’.  The exhibition, in the Entrance Hall Gallery, is free to visit and is open from 9.30am:
10.15-10.45         Registration. Tea/Coffee (Dickens Room)
10.45-10.55         Welcome: Janet Zmroczek (Head of European and Americas Collections, British Library)
10.55-11.40        Keynote: H. Adlai Murdoch (Tufts), ‘Introduction to the Francophone Caribbean: a comparative perspective’
11.40-11.45        Break
11.45-12.35        Panel 1: History, heritage and migration
With Sophie Fuggle (Nottingham Trent), Antonia Wimbush (Birmingham), Emily Zobel Marshall (Leeds Beckett) (Chair: Gitanjali Pyndiah)
12.35-13.05         Elizabeth Cooper (British Library) ‘Introduction to the British Library’s current Entrance Hall exhibition ‘Windrush: Songs in a Strange
                                Land’’ (Chair: Phil Hatfield, Eccles Centre, British Library)
13.05-14.00         Lunch. A sandwich lunch will be provided.
14.00-15.00         Panel 2: Francophone Caribbean Literature 
With Jason Allen-Paisant (Leeds), Vanessa Lee (Oxford), Kathryn Batchelor  (Nottingham)
15.00-15.30        Tea/Coffee
15.30-16.30        Jessica Oublié (Author) and Marie-Ange Rousseau (Illustrator): Presentation of the graphic novel Peyi An Nou (‘Our Country’)  (Editions Steinkis) (Chair: Charles Forsdick)
The presentation will be in French and an English version will be supplied.
16.30-17.00        Jean-François Manicom (Acting Curator, International Slavery Museum, Liverpool) ‘Visual arts in the Caribbean’ (TBC)
17.00-18.00        Wine reception sponsored by the Eccles Centre for American Studies
Organisers: Charles Forsdick (University of Liverpool/AHRC) and Teresa Vernon (British Library)
The study day is followed by a French Caribbean evening at the Institut français at 19.00.  In partnership with Festival America, the AHRC and the British Library,  this will be an exceptional opportunity to hear Dany Laferrière talk about his writing and in particular ‘The Enigma of the Return’ (MacLehose Press). The talk will be followed by a music session with Guadeloupean drummer Arnaud Dolmen, after an introduction to ‘jazz creole’ from journalist Kevin Le Gendre. Please note that a separate ticket is required for this event:
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