This On Our Doorsteps project aims to establish an ongoing exchange of skills and knowledge involved in practices of history-making and commemoration.
The Royal Pavilion and its gardens is a commemorative site of particular value to the local Indian community. Due to the Pavilion's use as a hospital for servicemen from the Indian subcontinent injured on the Western Front during the First World War, the site is closely associated with the 'hidden history' of Black servicemen in the British armed forces within the city of Brighton and Hove and the surrounding area. The India Gateway was gifted by the people of India in 1921 to commemorate the way the people of Brighton looked after injured Indian soldiers but has subsequently been lost to cultural memory within the city. Alongside Black History Month and other community-based initiatives that seek to recover the long history of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities in Britain, and to challenge their invisibility within traditional and hegemonic accounts of 'British history', this kind of commemorative work is valued by communities as a means to challenge racism, to enhance multicultural and cross-cultural understanding, and to promote local neighbourliness.
Focussing on the anniversary of the India Gateway at Brighton Pavilion - a stone’s throw from the Pavilion Parade campus - this partnership will establish an ongoing exchange of skills and knowledge involved in practices of history-making and commemoration.
Brighton and Hove Black History (BHBH) is a voluntary sector community group whose purpose is to reveal Brighton and Hove’s hidden history of Asian, African and African Caribbean peoples, particularly through 'help[ing] local people get involved in mapping their own history' (see <http://www.black-history.org.uk>). The School of Humanities is home to academic staff with teaching specialism’s and research interests in war commemoration; cultural memory and identity; histories and cultural politics of migration, 'race' and ethnicity; and popular, local and community-based history-making (see <http://arts.brighton.ac.uk/study/humanities>).
The proposed collaboration will build on and deepen both partners' understandings and practices in popular memory, local commemoration, and the production of historical knowledge. It will provide mutual learning by addressing practical issues in history-making, in commemoration, and in local cultural politics as these arise in the course of the design and delivery of a specific commemoration event, in this case the celebration of the 90th anniversary The India Gateway in Brighton Pavilion Gardens, in 2011. The project will provide opportunities for student interaction through placements and provides the basis for a future Collaborative PhD studentship and other grant applications.
The partners aim, within Phase 1 of the project, to collaborate in pilot activities centred on BHBH's planned commemoration, to reflect critically on the experience of collaboration in practical history-making and commemoration, beginning to develop working methods to overcome these difficulties and to establish the basis for Phase II collaboration, related to the proposed major 90th anniversary commemoration of the unveiling of the Gateway, in October 2011.
The project will contribute to the breaking down of barriers surrounding work on local history and cultural memory between practitioners in different sectors, academic and community. It will create a space for fruitful exchange bridging this divide, enabling practitioners to learn from each other.
School of Humanities & Brighton and Hove Black History Group