History Festival at De Montfort University.

The aim is to examine multiculturalism as an historical concept: its meaning for the theory and practice of history; origins of the ‘global’ nature of Leicester; and how academic and community history in the city reflect, experience, and engage with plurality. The event will bring together academic historians and community history groups to examine multicultural histories of the city, in partnership with the Leicester Branch of the Historical Association.

Leicester was the first city in the UK where the majority of residents identified as non-white British (2011 census). There are c. 70 languages spoken and at least 14 different faiths practiced. In the last two decades, this diversity has been celebrated by civic groups, with energetic promotion of its cultural ‘products’, particularly food, shopping and festivals such as Diwali. Yet the origins of Leicester’s diversity, and the meaning and lived experience of multiculturalism, have a contested history. 

The event will interrogate the question: what does multiculturalism mean in historical terms and how has it influenced engagement with history in Leicester? This will be examined through discussion of the following issues: 

  • What do we understand by the concept of ‘multiculturalism’ and how has its meaning changed over time?
  • What is the relationship between multiculturalism and the historical processes of human migration, race, ethnicity, war, empire and decolonisation, tolerance, and intolerance?
  • How did Leicester come to be a multi-cultural city; how are these evolutions represented in the changing history and historiography of the city?
  • How is community history used as a vehicle for the creation of identity in a plural city such as Leicester? 
  • Are there methodological implications for the study of multicultural histories, e.g., ethical debates around slavery, racism, violence, material appropriation and repatriation? How do we engage with these and with objectivity in history?
  • How are local archives and museum/gallery collections responding to the interest in global histories?
  • There will be opportunities to showcase work on ‘global’ aspects of Leicester’s history, by its practitioners.

This event is led by the Institute of History, De Montfort University and the Leicester Branch of the Historical Association.

Details about how to join this event will be available soon.

Image- "Leicester Market. UK" by zaphad1 is licensed under CC BY 2.0 

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