Civil Rights Documentary Cinema and the 1960s: Transatlantic Conversations on History, Race and Rights at The British Academy, London on 24-26 May 2016 (BRITISH ACADEMY LANDMARK CONFERENCE)

Civil Rights Documentary Cinema and the 1960s: Transatlantic Conversations on History, Race and Rights at The British Academy, London on 24-26 May 2016
This conference is co-sponsored by the Centre for Research in Race and Rights, the University of Nottingham, Nottingham Trent University, the University of Leicester and the University of Birmingham.
This conference – held in memory of American social activist, politician and leader in the civil rights movement Julian Bond (1940-2015) – brings together documentary filmmakers, activists, and film, history and media scholars. Its focus is films based in civil rights history and inspired by it. It will promote a trans-Atlantic exchange of ideas around film production, activist subjects, and historical research in the making of civil rights cinema, civil rights history and cultural memory. It examines race and rights – activism, massive resistance, film and visual cultures – to intervene creatively in the history of the 1960s and in the historiography of the civil rights movement.
The convenors are:
·         Prof. Sharon Monteith, Founding Co-Director of the Centre for Research in Race and Rights, University of Nottingham,
·         Dr George Lewis, University of Leicester
·         Prof Nahem Yousaf, Nottingham Trent University
·         Dr Helen Laville, University of Birmingham
Speakers and filmmakers:
·         John Akomfrah OBE, Smoking Dogs Films and co-founder of the Black Audio Film Collective (1982-1998), artist and filmmaker, UK
·         Dr Reece Auguiste, documentary filmmaker and co-founder of the Black Audio Film Collective (1982-1998), University of Colorado, US
·         Eduardo Montes-Bradley, director of Julian Bond: Reflections from the Frontlines of the Civil Rights Movement (2012), writer and director with Heritage Films Project at the University of Virginia, US
·         Professor Clayborne Carson, selected in 1985 by Mrs. Coretta Scott King to edit and publish the papers of her late husband Martin Luther King, Jr. is Martin Luther King Jr. Centennial Professor of History at Stanford University, US
·         Professor Jon Else, documentary filmmaker and Professor of Journalism at UC Berkeley, US, was co-producer and cinematographer on Henry Hampton’s Eyes On The Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years (1987)
·         Matthew Graves, Southern Documentary Film Project, University of Mississippi, US
·         Professor Peter Ling, University of Nottingham, UK
·         Professor Allison Graham, documentary filmmaker and historian and co-producer of At the River I Stand, University of Memphis, US
·         Judy Richardson, documentary filmmaker and co-director of Scarred Justice and co-produced Blackside’s Malcolm X: Make It Plain,former member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and education consultant throughout the production of  Eyes on the Prize, US
·         David Shulman, director of Ballots & Bullets in Mississippi, as well as Race Against Prime Time (1985) and Everyone’s Channel (1990), a history of alternative media used to counter racist speech, US and UK
·         Professor Stephen Tuck, University of Oxford, UK
·         Professor Clive Webb, University of Sussex, UK
Films screened will include selections from the ground-breaking 14-hour documentary series Eyes on the Prize I (1987) and full screenings of:
·         At the River I Stand (1993);
·         Scarred Justice: The Orangeburg Massacre, 1968 (2008), a UK premiere; 
·         Rebels: James Meredith and the Integration of Ole Miss (2012) a UK premiere; 
·         The March (2013); 
·         Ballots and Bullets in Mississippi (aka Dirt and Deeds in Mississippi, 2015)
To view the programme and to register for the conference please visit the British Academy event page.
In conjunction with the conference, there is will also be a free event to honour Julian Bond, including the UK premiere of Julian Bond: Reflections from the Frontlines of the Civil Rights Movement with its director Eduardo Montes-Bradley
Julian Bond was an activist, politician, lawyer, writer, and educator. In the wake of his sudden passing in 2015, this event celebrates the life of one of the key figures in American Civil Rights with a screening of a documentary of his life followed by a discussion with the director of the film and those who worked with Julian Bond and who knew him well.
·         Eduardo Montes-Bradley, the film’s director
·         Judy Richardson, a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) with Julian in the 1960s. Judy ran  Julian Bond’s  first successful campaign for the Georgia legislature
·         Professor Clayborne Carson, Martin Luther King Jr. Centennial Professor of History, Stanford University
·         Chair: Professor Sharon Monteith, University of Nottingham
Organised in connection with the British Academy Conference Civil Rights Documentary Cinema and the 1960s: Transatlantic Conversations on History, Race and Rights on Tuesday 24th May.  Please register for this separately at the British Academy event page.

Sara Ahmed on Audre Lorde and Self-Care at the University of Kent (Veronika Schuchter)

Sara Ahmed on Audre Lorde and Self-Care at the University of Kent

by Veronika Schuchter

17 December 2015


“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

(Audre Lorde in A Burst of Light)


In celebration of Audre Lorde’s work and legacy, as well as the book launch of Audre Lorde’s Transnational Legacies, edited by Stella Bolaki and Sabine Broeck (’s-transnational-legacies), Sara Ahmed gave a lecture at the University of Kent on 10 December.

As a self-proclaimed lover of words, she says she follows them around and finds inspiration in companion texts (texts that allow her to see things differently). Her lecture was accompanied by two such textual companions: Audre Lorde’s (of course!) and George Eliot’s work which she used to explore the concept of fragility with regard to objects, relations and bodies that evening.

Lorde’s legacy continues to inspire Ahmed’s own writing and for her, a legacy, too, can be a lifeline. For Audre Lorde, as Sara Ahmed pointed out in her talk, life is protest. This is particularly reflected in A Burst of Light in which Lorde writes about her battle with cancer and draws parallels between fighting her illness and her fight against anti-black racism; making the incredibly important point that looking after oneself and after one’s own happiness is not an act of selfishness but rather an indispensable responsibility in order to be able to care for others and continue to work and to fight. This always makes me think of the flight safety demonstrations in which you are reminded to put on your oxygen mask before you help anyone else – self-preservation and caring for one’s own health and emotional well-being are essential, especially for a radical feminist praxis, because “feminism needs feminists to survive; and feminists need feminism to survive.”

Central to Ahmed’s lecture was the powerful and recurring image of a/the wall reminding us that through the act of “speaking of walls, a wall comes up”, that “a wall can be an atmosphere, a gesture” and, most importantly, that walls are not always visible to everyone since for “those who do not come against it, the wall does not exist.” In that she specifically addressed how less abled bodies can become walls, how walls can come up between people and how some relations(hips) are celebrated and others openly devalued. Sara Ahmed’s work continues to be a much needed and at times uncomfortable (even more important!) reminder to check one’s own privilege in a world that is persistently imbalanced. Even though we “learn making from breaking” we must not break/be broken in the process of standing up, speaking up and fighting against (systemic) inequalities but allow fragility to be seen as generative as Audre Lorde did; since for her fragility did not equal the loss of hardness, they do not cancel each other out.

As an avid, grateful and inspired reader of Ahmed’s, I was eager to also hear her in person and I found confirmed what I already knew: that her work is not only of outstanding theoretical quality but also wonderfully relatable and usable, especially outside the academic discourse.

Let’s all look after ourselves and each other better!


Anyone interested in reading more on Sara Ahmed’s work (on Audre Lorde), should have a look at her wonderful blog feministkilljoys ( or her twitter (@SaraNAhmed). The lecture was recorded and there should be a podcast available at some point by the Centre for Gender, Sexuality and Writing at the University of Kent:

Response: Situations and Events (Cornelia Grabner)

Response to Dr. Cornelia Grabner, University of Lancaster, ‘Situations and Events: Intensifications of State Violence in Mexico and the Poetics of Resistance’, Wednesday October 7th 2015
by Fran Hajat
MA Creative Writing, NTU
27 October 2015
Cornelia Gräbner was the first in a series of speakers hosted by Nottingham Trent University’s Postcolonial Studies Centre. Her current research focus is to do with the Poetics of Resistance, a methodology that has been in development since 2007, and is about the development of transcultural literacies of resistance, and of resistance literacies, and their modes of response. Her talk mainly focused on an analysis of situations and events as poetics of resistance towards increased state violence in Mexico. On September 26th, 2014, students from a teacher training college in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico tried to attend a protest. Media reports state that the students, who had commandeered local buses to attend the rally, were intercepted by the local police. During the confrontation that ensued at least six students were killed an  many others injured, some of them severely. The police rounded up and took the students into custody where it is believed they were handed over to a local crime syndicate, never to be seen again. The disappearance of forty-three students was an event that attracted world-wide media attention.
Cornelia described how she felt increasingly discomforted by the way Britain and the world media had treated this event as exceptional. The abduction and death of students, she argued, was an intensification of the situation that the people of Guerrero had been continually struggling under. Guerrero was a state was known for its resistance towards the government’s ties with organised crime. A focus on the situation reveals the true awfulness of lives that are continuously oppressed by the State through dirty war strategies such as: clandestine detention centres; systematic use of torture; and executions. This campaign of attrition and violence is a method used by the Mexican State to wear out the support the locals have for their resistance base and, as such, is not a situation that will ever ‘calm down,’ as the world is led to believe through media reports.
The acknowledgement of the relationship between situations and events brings into focus a comprehension that these situations are continuous and ongoing. Cornelia’s analysis of the difference between the situation and the event, reminds me so much of the drowned refugee boy who haunted our screens and newspapers just over a month ago – a moment of horror caught for the world to both see and weep about. But only for a day or so. It is easy to forget this was not an isolated event but an ongoing situation where people are still drowning in a bid to escape their war-torn realities. But because the world’s voyeuristic eye is looking for something new, more interesting and exciting, we have lost sight of the everyday trauma that people have to endure. There is a need to understand the long term repercussions of events and the situations that lead up to them.