Black History Month Launch @ Holyrood

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Scotland’s Black History Month 2019 arrived in style on 24 September with a joyous launch party at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. Our own Dr Peggy Brunache was the Master of Ceremonies for this historic event.

The launch featured speeches by Prof Sir Geoff Palmer, Sandra Deslandes-Clark and a keynote by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The evening will be remembered for performances both moving and uplifting from such as the Maryhill Integration Network Choir, Andrea Baker’s stunning vocals from Sing Sistah Sing! and a mesmerising poetry reading from Hannah Lavery’s The Drift.

Black History Month has been co-ordinated by CRER Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights in Scotland each October since 2001. The programme for this year’s events can be found here:

https://www.crer.scot/black-history-month

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How Flexible Can We Make the Mouth

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Scots-Barbadian artist Alberta Whittle has a stunning exhibition at the DCA Dundee Centre for Contemporary Arts from 14 Sep- 24 November 2019.

How Flexible Can We Make the Mouth refers to Whittle’s current preoccupation with healing, writing, breath and orality. Writing has always been an integral part of her practice and the texts she produces are meant to be read aloud, to be heard as well as seen. She also works rhythmically in relation to writing and reading, particularly looking at punctuation marks as visual signifiers of shifts in breath and breathing. Looking at the relationship between historical written testimonies and ancestral knowledge shared through oral traditions, the artist will be using video and performance to create direct encounters with audiences, encouraging mutual empathy, learning, and understanding.

https://www.dca.org.uk/whats-on/event/alberta-whittle

UWI- Glasgow and reparative justice

Peggy Brunache, Graham Fagen, and Michael Morris were invited to attend the historic signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between University of the West Indies and the University of Glasgow on 21 August 2019.

 

The Memorandum launches a program of ‘reparative justice’ including the founding of a new Glasgow- Caribbean research centre and the unveiling of a plaque acknowledging Robert Bogle of Gilmorehill as an enslaver and honouring those who ‘suffered enslavement’.

This follows a report written by Dr Stephen Mullen and Prof Simon Newman into the slave origins of some of the wealth donated to the university. The Report can be found here .

Prof Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice Chancellor of UWI and Chairman of Caricom Reparations Commission, spoke movingly about relevance of the Haitian revolution which Slavery Remembrance Day commemorates each 21 August. Finally, the Makar Jackie Kay read a new poem for the occasion.

V&A Dundee Transnational Scotland workshop

On 6 August 2019, Michael Morris co-organised a workshop with Emma Bond (St Andrews) at the V&A Dundee as part of the Transnational Scotland Project. 

Purpose:

As a new design museum, V&A Dundee must continue to work hard to ensure the content of its Scottish Design Galleries reflects current scholarship on the systems of exploitation and empire that underpin Scotland’s successful design heritage. This workshop will critique the Scottish Design Galleries (the first to attempt to tell the story of Scottish design) and will explore how the museum can improve in its ambition to tell the transnational history of Scotland.

The aim of the workshop is to deepen the museum’s understanding of Scottish design within the context of post-colonial studies, and to help re-frame the content of the galleries by identifying alternative narratives that might challenge or complicate this story, and developing a more inclusive interpretative framework for the objects on display. The workshop will propose new objects for inclusion in the future and will consider ideas for new commissions or research projects. Objects or themes within the galleries that will form the basis for discussion will include: shipping and the maritime trade; slavery; Scotland and Asia; Turkey Red fabrics; jute; and Paisley shawls.

Victoria Adukwei Bulley and Hannah Young in conversation

The day featured a packed lunchtime public talk in the Auditorium with Dr Hannah Young and Victoria Adukwei Bulley. They discussed their collaboration on ‘Unfortunate Inheritances: Slave-ownership and the V&A’

Speakers:

Michael Morris (University of Dundee) and Lisa Williams (Edinburgh Caribbean
Association): Scotland and Slavery

• Prof Chris Whatley (University of Dundee): Jute

• Prof Bashabi Fraser (Edinburgh Napier University): East India Company

• Dr Rosie Spooner (University of Glasgow): Robert Weir Schultz and the Anglican Church in Khartoum

• Dr Suchitra Choudhury (Independent Scholar): Paisley shawls

• Dr Sally Tuckett (University of Glasgow): Turkey Red

Symbiosis conference

Scotland, the Caribbean and the Atlantic World panel

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Left to Right- Michael Morris, Peggy Brunache and Susan Mains

We presented a panel on ‘Scotland, the Caribbean and the Atlantic World’ on 12 July 2019 at the Symbiosis Conference held at University of Dundee. Symbiosis is a Journal of Transatlantic literary and cultural relations.

Susan Mains curated an exhibition of Stephen McLaren and Varun Baker’s photographs in the foyer of the Dalhousie building.

The panel was a success with Peggy handing round pieces of sugar cane to demonstrate her analysis of foodways.

Panel: Scotland, the Caribbean and the Atlantic World

Susan Mains, ‘Caribbean-Scottish Connections: Conversing, Tracing and Representing Transatlantic Tidal Journeys’

Peggy Brunache, ‘Mainstreaming African Diasporic Foodways When Academia is Not Enough’

Michael Morris, ‘Robert Graham of Gartmore: empire, disavowal, reparation.’

Moving Jamaica: Scottish-Caribbean Connections and Local-Global Journeys

A photography exhibition – ‘Moving Jamaica: Scottish-Caribbean Connections and Local-Global Journeys’ – to be displayed at the Lamb Gallery in Dundee, from 19 October 2018 to mid-January 2019.

Dr Susan Mains organised the exhibition featuring a range of unique historical and contemporary photographs that provide insights into the past, present and future cultural landscapes of Jamaica and their Scottish connections.

Developed as a collaborative project between the University of Dundee and the University of St Andrews Library Special Collections the presentation includes 19th-century images by Dundee photographers Valentine & Sons displayed alongside recent work by internationally acclaimed contemporary photographers Varun Baker (Jamaica) and Stephen McLaren(Scotland).

Moving-Jamaica-Exhibition-October-2018
Copyright: Varun Baker Photography (http://varunbaker.com/)

While photographic images have historically played an important role in promoting tourist destinations, the exhibition highlights that they run in parallel to more complex, dynamic and revealing stories.

Venue address: Lamb Gallery, Tower Building, Nethergate, Dundee, DD1 4HN

Varun Baker at Dundee

Susan Mains hosts internationally renowned photographer Varun Baker at the University of Dundee.

He will specifically focus on his innovative visual media projects at the event, which takes place at the University’s Scrymgeour Building from 2-3.15pm on Tuesday 7 May.

In the illustrated presentation, Varun will reveal contrasting views of Kingston, Jamaica’s capital city, by showcasing a range of human experiences. One photo essay, ‘Journey,’ follows the life of a man who makes a living on Kingston’s streets despite having had both his arms and legs amputated. Other portraits showcase the deep rooted connections between popular music and the city streets as people of all ages come together to enjoy dancehall culture.

Born in Brazil to an Indian mother and Jamaican father, Varun has lived in the US, Italy, Bermuda and Canada as well as Jamaica, where he is currently based. A popular exhibition of his work took place at the University earlier this year, part of Dundee’s research into connections between Scotland and the Caribbean.

“Ever since I was a teenager I have been fascinated by humans’ fleeting permanence,” said Varun. “The Jamaican society, in which I have spent most of my life, is vibrant and full of rich contrasts. I explore this with a strong use of colour by manipulating heavy or light tones.”

Next week’s event is organised by Dr Susan Mains, a Lecturer in Geography at the University, who said, “Having Varun come to talk with us about his photographic journeys, how he approaches his work, and the impact this has had in relation to how we view cities, Jamaica, and the wider Caribbean is a wonderful opportunity.

“His photographs bear witness to people, events and places that often go undocumented and highlight the diversity of Kingston’s urban spaces. This talk will appeal to a wide audience and we encourage all who are interested to join us for this engaging presentation.”

Varun Baker’s talk will be followed by a question and answer session with the audience. The event is free and open to all.