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The topic of scholar-activism has seen a recent resurgence in our contemporary political moment. To explore this topic, a transatlantic, scholar-activist conference will be held at the British Library in London, England on Friday June 22 and Saturday June 23. The conference will put scholars into conversation with activists to discuss how scholars and activists can work together, put recent social movements such as The Black Lives Matter Movement into scholarly and historical perspective, and highlight some ways in which scholars and activists in the US and UK are currently working together and engaging in efforts for social justice. The keynote speaker for the conference will be Professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, who will speak on “The Black Lives Matter movement in the Age of Trump.” Professor Heather Thompson, the winner of the 2017 Pulitzer prize, will also speak at the conference. The conference is sponsored by the British Association for American Studies, the University of Sussex's Sussex Centre for American Studies, the British Library, and the US Embassy in the UK.  



Please register at the following:


Please register at least two days ahead of conference.  There is no same day registration.

Follow along during the conference on twitter @scholactivism or use the hashtag #scholaractivism 

June 2018 Programme

Friday, 22 June 2018

8:45 -9:20am - Registration check-in, British Library knowledge centre

9:20-9:30 am: Opening (Kingsley Newuh and Aliyah Hasinah, Black Lives Matter Birmingham; Melissa Milewski, University of Sussex)

9:20 - 11:00 am

Roundtable: How to Be a Scholar-Activist

“Communicating as a Scholar-Activist,” Toyin Agbetu, community educator, artist-activist, anthropologist and member of Grenfell Media Watch Team

“How to Maintain Radical Politics as an Academic,” Kehinde Andrews, Birmingham City University

“5 Principles for scholar activism,” Dr Remi Joseph-Salisbury, Leeds Beckett University

"Liberated Pedagogies: Scholar Activism in the Age of #BlackLivesMatter," Treva Lindsey, Ohio State University

Omar Khan, Director of The Runnymede Trust

Chairs: Kingsley Newuh and Aliyah Hasinah, Black Lives Matter Birmingham

11:10 am -12:40 pm

Art and Activism

“Art Activists from the Harlem Renaissance to Black Lives Matter,” Beatrice Carey, Senior Curriculum Consultant for Kingston University

“Stitching the Resistance: Quilting as Feminist and Anti-Racist Activism,” Katja May, University of Kent

“Display It Like You Stole It: The importance of being uncomfortable in museums,” Alice Procter, art historian, academic, activist and guide for Uncomfortable Art Tours

“How African American Songwriters and Poets Encourage Activism,” Gavan Lennon, Canterbury Christ Church University

Chair: Anne-Marie Angelo, University of Sussex

Righteous Anger: Strategies for Caring for Mind and Body during Activism (interactive workshop):

Janine Francois, University of the Arts London and cultural/community worker

Dre Ferdinand, clinical social worker, yoga instructor and reiki practitioner

The Archive as an Activist Force

Beverley Mason, Friends of the Huntley Archives at the London Metropolitan Archives

Elizabeth Cooper, Curator for Caribbean and Latin American Collections, British Library

Nicole-Rachelle Moore, George Padmore Institute

Chair: Rob Waters, University of Sussex

12:40-1:20pm - LUNCH (food provided with registration)

12:50-1:20pm -  British library presentation on its collections (optional)


Law and Activism

“Black Lives Matter Behind Bars,” Heather Thompson, University of Michigan

“The Limits and Opportunities within the Law for Activism,” Melissa Milewski, University of Sussex

“Law and Radical Social Movements,” Amna Akbar, Ohio State University

“Legal Scholars as Activists: The Promises and Pitfalls of Pro Bono Clinics,” Bharat Malkani, Cardiff University

Chair: Katharina Rietzler, University of Sussex

Memory, Scholarship, and Activism

Opening Remarks: Dr. Nathaniel Adam Tobias Coleman, scholar-activist and participant in Dismantling The Master’s House and Rhodes Must Fall

“#BLM and Confederate Monuments,” Jenny Woodley, Nottingham Trent University

“Historical Amnesia in British popular histories of abolition,” Christienna Fryar, University of Liverpool

“Black soldier-historians and the limits of scholar activism in the late nineteenth century,” Robert Cook, University of Sussex

“Lessons from the radical 1960s in the US and UK,” Mike O’Donnell, Westminster University

Chair: Dr. Nathaniel Adam Tobias Coleman, scholar-activist and participant in Dismantling The Master’s House and Rhodes Must Fall

Activism, Race and Migration: Expanding Windrush

Omar Khan, Director of the Runnymede Trust

Antonia Bright or Karen Doyle, Movement for Justice

Euen Herbert-Small, British Born Activist-Victim of the Hostile Environment Policy (British Nationality Law and Right of Abode)

Grace Brown, Garden Court Chambers

2:50-3:10pm: Tea, Coffee and Biscuit break

3:10 -4:40pm

Archiving Activism: Past, Present, Future

Fran Fuentes, Curator for North American Printed Collections, British Library

Nicole-Rachelle Moore, George Padmore Institute

Maureen Roberts, London Metropolitan Archives

Paul Vernon Dudman, Archivist at University of East London

Laura Gallon, University of Sussex

Chair: Rob Waters, University of Sussex

Making Space for Academic Activism: Intersectional Interventions in 21st century Academia

Sadhvi Dar, Queen Mary University of London

Angela Martinez Dy, Loughborough University London

Jenny Rodriguez, Alliance Manchester Business School

Filmmaking and Activism

“American Filmmaking and Trump,” Terence McSweeney, Southampton Solent University

“Black American Filmmaking and Protest in the Obama Age,” Teresa Hagan, UEA

“Not a case study, but a life: storytelling, participation and 'case studies' in UK campaigning organisations,” Lydia Shellien-Walker, University of Sussex

Chair: Sue Currell, University of Sussex

5:00 - 6:30pm

Welcome: Dr. Phil Hatfield, Head of the Eccles Centre for American Studies

Introduction: BLM UK

Keynote Address: "From Black Lives Matter to the White Power Presidency: Race and Class in the Trump Era," Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Princeton University

Saturday, 23 June 2018 

9:00 - 9:15am - Opening (Kingsley Newuh and Aliyah Hasinah, Black Lives Matter Birmingham)


Roundtable: Know Thy Enemy: Historians on Global White Nationalism in the Age of Brexit and Trump

Introduction, Daniel Geary, Trinity College Dublin

“Enoch Powell in Detroit and Mississippi, Clive Webb, University of Sussex

“David Duke in London,” Jennie Sutton, independent scholar

“Apartheid in Charleston,” Zoe Hyman, UCL

“Katie Hopkins in Palm Beach,” Camilla Schofield, UEA

Comment: Bill Schwarz, Queen Mary

Religion and Activism

“Catholicism, ecological justice and the struggle for legitimate voice,” Anupama Ranawana, University of Aberdeen

“Religion and the US Civil Rights Movement and BLM Movement,” Kerry Pimblott, University of Manchester

“African American Mourning and Political Resistance,” Nyle Fort, minister and scholar, Princeton University

Chair: Robert Beckford, Canterbury Christ Church University

A Forensic Examination of the Attempted Murder of a Film 

Ken Fero, Senior Lecturer in Media Production, Coventry University

Fero is a filmmaker and activist with Migrant Media who, over the last 30 years, has documented resistance struggles around issues of race and class with a number of controversial films for Channel 4, BBC, and FR3 as well as the highly acclaimed multi-award winning radical cinematic documentary feature Injustice about deaths in police custody in the UK.

Challenging Violence and Discrimination Past and Present

Opening remarks: Althea Legal-Miller, Canterbury Christ-Church University

“Tackling narratives of urban Black male youth,” Ian Joseph, University of East London

"Direct Action in Times of Black Lives Matter," Black Lives Matter Nottingham

Marci Rigg, sister of Sean Rigg and Chair of United Families & Friends Campaign

Chair: Melissa Milewski, University of Sussex

Activism and Education

“Decolonizing education through black authored children’s books,” Nick Batho, University of Edinburgh

“The University as an Instrument of Black Cultural Revolution,” Errol A. Henderson, Pennsylvania State University

“Activism, Music and the Academy: Disrupting Eurocentric Epistemic Practices,” Melz Owosu, University
of Leeds

“Scholar-Activism Engagement and Social Movements in Nigeria,” Olakunle Michael Folami, former Welfare Officer of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Nigeria

Black Lives Matter Nottingham

Chair: Kingsley Newuh and Aliyah Hasinah, Black Lives Matter Birmingham

12:40-1:30pm LUNCH (provided)

12:55-1:35pm - Behind the Scenes talk and tour of Windrush exhibition with British Library curators (free/ no registration needed)

1:40 - 3:10pm

Coalitions and Peripheries in Scholar-Activism

“Black and Indigenous Dreamin’: Indigenous Millennials and Decolonial Possibilities,” Kyle Mays, University of California, Los Angeles

“The challenge of coalition-building during the ‘long’ civil rights movement,” Oliver Ayers, New College of the Humanities London

“Negotiating #Black Lives Matter in the Hinterlands: BLM in the North American Pacific West and the Midlands, UK,” Nadine King Chambers, independent researcher

“Black Lives Matter in the US and South Africa: Historicizing Transnational Activism,” Nick Grant, UEA

Chair: Natalia Cecire, University of Sussex

Healthcare, Humanitarianism, and Activism

“Scholarship, public policy and healthcare privatization in the UK,” Mo Stewart, independent disability studies researcher

“The radical breast cancer movement in the United States,” Grazia de Michele, University of Genoa

“Supporting scholar activism and activist scholarship from a Mad Studies perspective,” Peter Beresford, University of Essex and co-chair of Shaping Our Lives, the disabled people’s and service users’ national organisation and network

“MeToo in the Aid Sector,” Gemma Houldey, University of Sussex

Chair: Tom Davies, University of Sussex

Activist Strategy Session (closed event)

UFFC/BLM/Cross Movement Base Building

3:10-3:30pm: Tea, coffee and biscuit break


Brief Presentations and Roundtable: Scholar-Activism in Practice

“Creating change as a scholar and activist in Omaha, Nebraska,” Jennifer Harbour, University of Nebraska-Omaha

“Non-violent scholar-activism within the Gezi movement in Turkey,” Burcu Eke-Schneider, peace worker

'Where does scholarship end and activism begin?' Rianna Walcott, King’s College London

“Scholar-activism in the movement for prisoners’ rights,” Heather Thompson, University of Michigan

Black Lives Matter + Scholar Collaborations in Nottingham, Karen Salt, The University of Nottingham and Lisa Robinson, BLM UK

Chair: Melissa Milewski, University of Sussex

Roundtable: Exposing the Whiteness of the City of London: an activist led methodology

Samarendra Das and Laurel or Miriam, Foil Vedanta

Toyin Agbetu, Grenfell Media Watch

Suzanne Dhaliiwal, No Tar Sands

Rumana Hashem, Phulbari Solidarity Group

Jacob Joyce, Zine Maker

Sara Caldwell, Women of Colour in Global Women's Strike

Brother Omowale, PASCF

5:15-5:40pm Closing Remarks (Black Lives Matter Nottingham; Anne-Marie Angelo, University of Sussex)

6:00-7:30 Public Panel: Challenging State Violence Through Activism, Solidarity and Coalitions

The Movement for Black Lives, U.S.

    Nyle Fort, Activist and Scholar, Princeton University

Black Lives Matter, Nottingham UK

United Friends and Family Campaign, UK

    Kadija George, cousin of Sheku Bayoh

    Germaine Phillips, mother of Adrian McDonald

    Marcia Rigg, sister of Sean Rigg and chair of United Families & Friends Campaign

Chair: Althea Legal-Miller, Canterbury Christ Church University

This panel of families, academics and activists from the US and UK will come together to discuss ways to connect our struggles​ and strategies in dismantling​ state-sanctioned violence. This talk will examine deaths in custody as a Global issue, whilst centering the underlying issues in our communities ​and hearing from those families​ directly impacted in order to build knowledge, amplify the work being done in the UK, and build support for the United Families & Friends Campaign 20th Anniversary events. This will include the UFFC Conference 'Interrogating State Violence: Custodial deaths, Justice and Resistance' on 26th October and the UFFC Remembrance Procession on 27th October. The panel will address the issue of how the failure of State officials to ensure the basic right to life is made worse by the failure of the State to prosecute those responsible for custody deaths. Families will give evidence on how the failure to prosecute those responsible for deaths in custody sends the message that the State can act with impunity. The event will feed into a growing transnational solidarity network that seek to build meaningful relationships and connect across our struggles for justice and equity.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

10:00 - 11:30am - Uncomfortable Art Tour of British Museum with Alice Procter

On this tour of the British Museum, we’ll unravel the role colonialism played in shaping and funding these collections, looking at the broader material history of celebrated works. The history of British art is also the history of empire and genocide, written by collectors who traded in landscapes and lives​.

If you are interested in this please book separately, there is a cost per person of 8 pounds for this tour - tickets can be booked here:  For more about Uncomfortable Art tours, see


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