On Wednesday, 12 October 2016, a number of slavery historians, early career researchers, postgraduate and college students, artists, educators, and members of the public gathered at Nottingham Contemporary to witness and engage in a series of ‘Dialogues’ that were tied together by the theme, ‘Unspeakable Things Unspoken’ Transatlantic Slavery – A Public Conversation. The day was hosted by the Centre for Research in Race and Rights at the University of Nottingham. I was able to attend the first day, learned some new things, and was given the opportunity to view a topic that I know quite well from some new perspectives. I’m so glad that I went.
What struck me most was the way in which the day and the physical space had both been structured to create opportunities for discussion on a wide range of topics related to historic slavery and the transatlantic slave trade. Attendees were grouped in tables with approx. 8-10 seats, college students from Hackney had been invited and were mixed in with great success with some of the biggest historians of British slavery and abolition working in Britain right now. We watched panels of 2 to 3 presenters and a chair discuss their work and answer questions for 20 to 40 minutes before being actively encouraged as audience members to continue the dialogue at our tables, leading to some great discussions that were enhanced by multiple perspectives on the themes of the day.
The day was well organised, well thought out, and well implemented. Congratulations are definitely owed to Dr Katie Donington and her colleagues for the massive amount of work they must have put into organising such a large event. If you’re interested in finding out more, there will be several more related workshops happening London, Liverpool, and Hull over the next six months with a focus on slavery and art, public history, and education, so keep an eye out!