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As part of this year’s city-wide Transform festival, Talking Back is an interdisciplinary conference uncovering the power of shared testimony as an act of political resistance.

Book your ticket here

Inspired by bell hooks’ (1989) discussion of ‘talking back’ and speech as a radical force against the systemic silencing of marginalised voices, this one-day conference will present critical and creative work by creatives, writers, researchers, poets, and activists who challenge disciplinary and cultural barriers.

“Moving from silence into speech is for the oppressed, the colonized, the exploited, and those who stand and struggle side by side, a gesture of defiance that heals, that makes new life, and new growth possible. It is that act of speech, of “talking back” that is no mere gesture of empty words, that is the expression of moving from object to subject, that is the liberated voice.”

bell hooks, “Talking Back.” Discourse (1986), p. 128.

hooks’ ideas have inspired many movements towards the liberation of oppressed voices and groups, as well encouraging cross-cultural dialogue between voices from marginalised backgrounds and perspectives. Reflecting on hooks, we suggest that the action and impact of speaking out is achieved only when we are willing to hear the narratives of others. This one-day conference aims to contribute to the formation of collaborative networks of resistance with the potential for profound societal change.

This conference aims to bring together and amplify voices of marginalised individuals. It also aims to create a safe space that fosters collaborative thinking and discussions on representation and resistance.

Consisting of critical and creative approaches to decolonial activism, reclamations of culture and identity, and the transformative power of voice, this will include academic papers, creative workshops, and poetry readings.

We want to encourage cooperative discourse, centred narratives of representation and resistance. Speaking out together against their hegemonic constraints, scholars and artists alike will transcend both disciplinary and identity barriers to take part in an open and inclusive dialogue.

For further information please visit the dedicated Talking Back conference website.


Keynote speakers

About Transform

Transform, a City Takeover – a ground breaking festival co-curated by 14 major cultural organisations across Nottingham in Spring/Summer 2024. Together, we’re celebrating the leadership, creativity, and stewardship of the Global Ethnic Majority in Nottingham.

‘Moving from silence into speech is for the oppressed, the colonized, the exploited, and those who stand and struggle side by side, a gesture of defiance that heals, that makes new life, and new growth possible. It is that act of speech, of “talking back” that is no mere gesture of empty words, that is the expression of moving from object to subject, that is the liberated voice.’

– bell hooks, “Talking Back.” Discourse (1986), p. 128.

Talking Back interdisciplinary conference is an in-person conference that will be held in Nottingham, United Kingdom. It will form a prominent part of Transform, a city-wide collaborative and transformative endeavour involving major cultural organisations across Nottingham in summer 2024, led in partnership by New Art Exchange.

Reflecting on speech as a radical force against the systemic silencing of marginalised voices (hooks, 1989), we would like to invite proposals from writers, academics, creatives, and activists alike who are interested in exploring critical and creative approaches to decolonial activism, reclamations of culture and identity, and the transformative power of voice.

We invite contributions that explore marginalised voices, representations of dissent against western hegemony and rigid binaries, and resistance to silencing and structural oppression. We welcome critical and creative approaches to proposals from participants of all genders, racial groups, and faith groups.

The conference is free to attend and will take place at Bonington Gallery, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, England on Tuesday 25th June 2024.

The conference will be followed by an open-mic poetry and networking event, centred on the theme of ‘talking back.’


Suggestions include and are not limited to:

This conference is made possible by generous funding and support provided by Bonington Gallery and the NTU’s Postcolonial and Global Studies Research Group.

Join us for a free, online talk between Irene Lusztig and Patricia Francis – part of the When I Dare to be Powerful conference.

Free and online via YouTube.

Reserve your place here

Patricia Francis and filmmaker Irene Lusztig will explore and discuss the value of archive in bringing voices and their subjective truths from the past into the present. Irene will also show extracts from a couple of her films including her latest release, Richland.

This is the final in the series of online talks and podcast conversations we have been having as part of the When I Dare To Be Powerful in-person international conference.


Irene Lusztig is a filmmaker, visual artist, archival researcher, and amateur seamstress. Her film and video work mines old images and technologies for new meanings in order to reframe, recuperate, and reanimate forgotten and neglected histories. Often beginning with rigorous research in archives, her work brings historical materials into conversation with the present day, inviting viewers to explore historical spaces as a way to contemplate larger questions of politics, ideology, and the production of personal, collective, and national memories. Much of Irene’s current work is centred on public feminism, language, and histories of women and women’s bodies, including her debut feature Reconstruction (2001) the feature length archival film essay The Motherhood Archives (2013) and the ongoing web-based Worry Box Project (2011). 

Born in England to Romanian parents, Irene grew up in Boston and has lived in France, Italy, Romania, China, and Russia. Her work has been screened around the world, including at the Berlinale, MoMA, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Anthology Film Archives, Pacific Film Archive, Flaherty NYC, IDFA Amsterdam, RIDM Montréal, Hot Docs, AFI Docs, and BFI London Film Festival and on television in the US, Europe, and Taiwan. She has received grants from the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, Massachusetts Cultural Council, LEF Foundation, New York State Council for the Arts, and Sustainable Arts Foundation and has been awarded fellowships at the MacDowell Colony, the Flaherty Film Seminar, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and Harvard’s Film Study Center. She is the 2016-17 recipient of a Rydell Visual Arts Fellowship and a Fulbright Fellowship in Portugal. She teaches filmmaking at UC Santa Cruz where she is Associate Professor of Film and Digital Media; she lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

This one day conference, held as part of Nottingham Refugee Week, will explore how creativity can be used to resist the ‘hostile environment’ promoted against refugee and asylum-seeking communities within the UK. 

The day will consist of:

Registration: 10 am
Conference: 10.30 am – 5.30 pm for free food and drinks from the Syrian Vegan Kitchen
Comedy gig: 6 – 7 pm (a more detailed schedule can be found at the end of this page)

As cited in the IPPR’s ‘Access Denied’ report (September 2020), over the past decade and beyond, the UK has witnessed the mushrooming of an aggressively hostile system that denies basic human need to those seeking sanctuary across numerous sociocultural sectors – from policing, welfare, housing, health and education to Home Office immigration systems themselves.

In response to this pervasive discourse, however, counter-narratives and counter-practices have seeded and grown with astonishing vigour across the breadth of the sociocultural sphere – from the high-profile and high-visibility (arts festivals such as Counterpoints’ ‘Refugee Week’; Charwei Tsai’s film projection ‘Hear Her Singing’ on the Southbank Centre, London; the emergence of the Cities of Sanctuary network) to altogether subtler negotiations and refusals of hostility (‘living maps’ projects whereby newly arrived sanctuary-seekers annotate maps identifying resources of use to new communities, for instance; or refugee-led wellbeing services such as Vanclaron, that operate within Serco-run hotels to nurture positive mental health). While presenting ‘life-sustaining practices’ of creative ‘uprising’ and ‘innovation’ (Espiritu et. al., 2022), this emergent nexus of narratives and practices is yet to be placed in dialogue, and thus mobilised as a site of connective critical agency.

It is the task of ‘Hostile Environment, Artful Living’ to generate a pioneering platform for such essential criticality. Blurring the boundaries between academic discourse and community-engaged activity, this 1-day event presents a series of discursive platforms designed to initiate dialogue between those working ‘artfully’ within and against the hostile environment, across and between the arts, humanities, and community-engaged sociocultural sphere.

The day is organised around three Roundtables: ‘Narratives’, exploring the mobilisation of literary, story-based, festival-based and community-based narratives that ‘artfully’ rewrite the narrative of hostility; ‘Environments’, exploring ‘artful’ negotiations of public spaces such as housing, healthcare and green space; and ‘Leading the Conversation’, presenting ‘artful’ projects developed by creatives of lived refugee experience.

Each panel consists of four ‘headline’ speakers drawn from diverse academic, cultural-creative and community locations, who will offer 10-minute presentations designed to spark debate among the wider roundtable audience. Confirmed speakers include Allan Njanji (also conference co-convenor), filmmaker of lived refugee experience, whose work explores ‘refugee voice’ in documentary journalism; blog developer Hira Aaftab, presenting refugee-led blog Our World Too; editors Rubina Bala and Alexandros Plasatis, presenting refugee-led literary journal The Other Side of Hope; and storytelling producer Naomi Wilds, discussing community-based storytelling with young communities of sanctuary-seekers. We are honoured to be hosting a Keynote (via live weblink) from Yến Lê Espiritu, Distinguished Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, San Diego, whose field-defining works on ‘critical refugee studies’ include the recent 2022 Departures and 2014 Body Counts: The Vietnam War and Militarised Refuge(es).

The day is bookended by performances from artists of lived refugee experience, opening with Florette Fetgo, spiritual artist of Cameroonian heritage, whose public actively contest police hostility in Nottingham; and closing with a gig from refugee-led comedy collective, No Direction Home.

We are proud to be serving complimentary food from the Nottingham-based refugee-led business, the Syrian Vegan Kitchen.

Throughout the day, our emphasis is on establishing collective, transdisciplinary dialogue on ‘hostile environment, artful living’, in the hope that our discussions will form the basis of an eventual edited collection of essays and interviews, and of an AHRC funding application.

Roundtable audience participants are invited from across every discipline and cultural sector, and are welcome to join for some or all of the day. Conference attendance includes complementary lunch courtesy of the refugee-led Syrian Vegan Kitchen, and entry to No Direction Home’s end-of-day comedy gig.

We also welcome posters, displays of projects and ‘cultural interventions’ that fit the theme of the event from participants.

The day’s events take place at Bonington Gallery, Nottingham Trent University city campus, which can be easily reached by tram or bus from Nottingham train station.

When I Dare to be Powerful International Conference explores the idea of voice as an agent for change and act of resistance.

Book your ticket

Click here to reserve your ticket for the free in person conference

When I Dare to be Powerful International Conference will bring filmmakers, artists, writers and activists together with conceptual thinkers and cultural theorists to answer pressing questions relating to voice as an agent of change.

Centred on voice as a lens through which we conceive of a social alterity that undermines current ideological dominance, we would like to invite proposals from academics, practitioners and activists interested in exploring coming to voice as an act of resistance. Has adequate progress been made in remedying the lived experience of minoritised people? How will social parity be achieved? Can dissent facilitate a space from which an alternative, socio-cultural narrative can thrive?

When I Dare To Be Powerful one-day conference offers a packed programme of events running up to and including the conference itself:

The conference period begins on 26th April and runs through to the one-day conference in June. Join us in the conversations relating to voice, around which our one-day conference is based.

The conference is free to attend and will take place in person on Wednesday 21st June 2023.

Visit our When I Dare To Be Powerful website to find our more about the conference timetable.

Join Ather Zia in conversation with with Amir Kaur Aujula-Jones and Trang Dang, as part of the When I Dare to be Powerful conference at Bonington Gallery.

Amir Kaur Aujla-Jones and Trang Dang are in conversation with Ather Zia about writing as a powerful tool to amplify the voices of women active in the Kashmir conflict. Their voices are often ignored in a dominant narrative that fails to give them agency and instead writes them as victims of the conflict.

This event is part of online talks series leading to the in-person conference When I Dare to be Powerful, on 21 June at Bonington Gallery. The international conference will bring filmmakers, artists, writers and activists, together with conceptual thinkers and cultural theorists in order to answer pressing questions relating to voice as an agent of change.


Ather Zia, Ph.D., is a political anthropologist, poet, short fiction writer, and columnist. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Gender Studies program at the University of Northern Colorado Greeley. Ather is the author of Resisting Disappearances: Military Occupation and Women’s Activism in Kashmir (June 2019) which won the 2020 Gloria Anzaldua Honorable Mention award, 2021 Public Anthropologist Award, and Advocate of the Year Award 2021. She has been featured in the Femilist 2021, a list of 100 women from the Global South working on critical issues. She is the co-editor of Can You Hear Kashmiri Women Speak (Women Unlimited 2020), Resisting Occupation in Kashmir (Upenn 2018) and A Desolation called Peace (Harper Collins, May 2019). She has published a poetry collection “The Frame” and another collection is forthcoming. Ather’s ethnographic poetry on Kashmir has won an award from the Society for Humanistic Anthropology. She is the founder-editor of Kashmir Lit and is the co-founder of Critical Kashmir Studies Collective, an interdisciplinary network of scholars working on the Kashmir region. Ather is also a co-editor of Cultural Anthropology.

Amir Kaur Aujla-Jones (she/her) has a BA (Hons) in History from the University of Sussex, a MA in Education from the University of Nottingham and a PhD in Sociology from Nottingham Trent University. Dr Aujla-Jones’s research has focused on race and gender equality using an intersectional lens. Her PhD thesis examined the lived experience of Black, Asian, and Mixed-race girls in predominantly white English secondary schools. Dr Aujla-Jones is part of Conscience Collective, an international network based in the UK aiming to extend understanding of climate and social  justice. 

Trang Dang (she/her) is a PhD researcher in literary studies at Nottingham Trent University, funded by NTU Studentship Scheme, and previously graduated from Oxford Brookes University with a BA and an MA in English Literature. Her PhD project focuses on Jeff VanderMeer’s weird fiction, exploring narratives of co-existence between humans and nonhumans and the role of new weird novels in portraying the current climate crisis. Her main research interests are contemporary literature, cli/sci-fi, critical theory, and continental philosophy. She has published on the topics of animal studies, American culture and politics, and the Anthropocene.

Following a call for papers last year, we are delighted to announce that the Building Bridges Conference will take place from the 4 – 7 April 2022. The conference is part of the Formations programme run by researchers from the Postcolonial Study Centre at Nottingham Trent University and Bonington Gallery.

Hosting a wide range of presenters from across the globe, papers explore contemporary topical issues of decolonisation and its socio-political structures. The conference is open to discussions and deconstructions of long-held dominant ideologies and narratives which function to sustain the invisibility of colonial and empirical legacies in the contemporary world. Building Bridges aims to highlight alternative ways of thinking about the world and alternative forms of political practices. By thinking critically about the need to unbuild, to deconstruct, and to destabilise the kind of connections and structures that uphold Eurocentric and colonial frames of reference as ‘universal’, we seek to upend stories of encounter and demonstrate the pervasive influence of conquest narratives in the present day. We are delighted to confirm that our keynote speakers are Professor Avtar Brah and Dr Sophie Chao.

The conference will feature a reading from Leone Ross, from her new novel This One Sky Day. The reading will be followed by a Q&A session with the writer, discussing her writing process and her thoughts on creative form in a postcolonial world. 

Take a look at the full conference programme.

Conference Schedule:
4 April
Welcome and Decolonial Imaginings and Intersectional Conversations and Contestations, Professor Avtar Brah

9.45 – 11 am

This presentation will be a both theoretical and political engagement with concepts such as ‘Decolonial’ and ‘Intersectionality’ and how these concepts assume new meanings through their articulation. It will attend to particular instances in and through which they have mapped the social ground of feminist and egalitarian imaginaries.

Watch on the Bonington Gallery YouTube channel.

Panel 1: Gender, the Body, and Oppression

12 – 1.30 pm

Participants: Marietta Kosma, Daniel Yaw Fiaveh, Ndiweteko Jennifer Nghishitende and Lede E Miki Pohshna

Watch on the Bonington Gallery YouTube channel.

Panel 2: Identity, Diaspora, and Dispossession

2.30 – 4 pm

Participants: Isabel Arce Zelada, Rajbir Samal & Binod Mishra, Ghosun Baaqeel and Victoria V. Chang

Watch on the Bonington Gallery YouTube channel.

5 April
Decolonising the Field(s): Insights from the Pacific in an Age of Planetary Unravelling, Dr Sophie Chao

8.45 – 10 am

In this talk, Dr Chao will draw on her collaborative research with Samoan scholar and Lefaoali’i (High Talking Chief) Dion Enari to explore how transdisciplinary, experimental, and decolonial imaginaries can help us better understand and address environmental destruction and social injustice in an epoch of planetary undoing. Such imaginaries must account for the perspectives, interests, and existences of both human and beyond-human communities of life.

Watch on the Bonington Gallery YouTube channel.

Panel 3: Resistance, Representation, and Marginalised Communities

11 am – 12.30 pm

Participants: Shifana P A & Dr Asha Susan Jacob, Md Alamgir Hossain, Bianca Cherechés and Chithira James & Dr Reju George Mathew

Watch on the Bonington Gallery YouTube channel.

Panel 4: Environmentalism, Conservation, and Decolonisation

1.30 – 3 pm

Participants: Badakynti Nylla Iangngap, Catherine Price, Dr Md Abu Shahid Abdullah and Swapnit Pradhan & Dr Nagendra Kumar

Watch on the Bonington Gallery YouTube channel.

6 April
Panel 5: Decolonial Research, Knowledge(s), and Pedagogy

9.45 – 11.30 am

Participants: Atilio Barreda II, Nabeela Musthafa, Dr Opeloge Ah Sam and Sara Bdeir

Watch on the Bonington Gallery YouTube channel.

Panel 6: Modernity, Higher Education, and Epistemology

12.30 – 2 pm

Participants: Shifana P A & Dr Asha Susan Jacob, Md Alamgir Hossain, Bianca Cherechés and Chithira James & Dr Reju George Mathew

Watch on the Bonington Gallery YouTube channel.

7 April
Reading: This One Sky Day by Leone Ross

11.15 am – 12.30 pm

Leone Ross will read from her new novel, This One Sky Day, and will talk to Bethan Evans and the audience about her writing process and decolonisation.

Watch on the Bonington Gallery YouTube channel.

Panel 7: Storytelling, Narrativisation, and Form

1.30 – 3 pm

Participants: Carolina Buffoli, Marine Berthiot, Dr Rachel Gregory Fox and Dr Yasmin Rioux

Watch on the Bonington Gallery YouTube channel.

For more information visit the Building Bridges conference website and follow Building Bridges on Twitter.

on Twitter @buildbridgesntu.

The third segment of Formations, our year-long programme delivered in partnership with Nottingham Trent University’s Postcolonial Studies Centre, includes events in January and February under the thematic banner – Formation: Memorials, focusing on the memorialisation of people, places, and histories, through statues and monuments and through writing. We will consider memorialisation in locations including the UK, US, and Pakistan, consider renowned figures and the politics of the statues and other public monuments commemorating them, and invite you to join us for conversations, poetry readings, and writing workshops.

Resilience Writing: Creative Writing Workshop with Postcolonial Studies Centre writer-in-residence Eve Makis

Wednesday 20 January 2021, 6.30 pm – 8 pm

Join a writing session with Eve Makis exploring identity and the meaning of resilience, taking inspiration from seminal works by Maya Angelou. All levels welcome.

All participants will get the chance of having their work edited and included on a spoken word album bringing their written work to life.

Eve Makis is the author of four novels, a life-writing guide and an award-winning screenplay. She’s recipient of the Young Booksellers International Book of the Year Award and the Aurora Mardiganian Gold Medal, her works shortlisted for the East Midlands Book Award and the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize. She teaches fiction on the MA in creative writing at Nottingham Trent University where she is writer in residence for the Postcolonial Studies Centre.

Annum Salman: Sense Me, Remembering Incomplete Identities of the Past

Tuesday 26 January 2021, 4 pm – 5 pm

Annum Salman is a spoken word poet from Pakistan, who has undertaken her Creative Writing MA in Surrey and is currently residing in Karachi. Her book shares her experiences as Pakistani Muslim woman and a foreigner tackling mental health issues, sexism and racism. In line with the theme of memorials, Annum will be joining us live from Pakistan to read from her collection Sense Me and discuss identity, tackling racism and sexism, and her relationship with the UK and Pakistan as a Muslim woman. She will be introduced and in conversation with Ramisha Rafique, postgraduate research student at NTU.

Click here to watch via our Youtube

Roundtable: Slavery and Public History in the UK and US – A Conversation with Dr Jessica Moody and Professor Stephen Small

Wednesday 3 February 2021, 7 pm – 8.30 pm

Slavery and Public History in the UK and US – A Conversation with Dr Jessica Moody and Professor Stephen Small. Chaired by Dr Jenny Woodley, with Purnachandra Naik.

The histories of both the UK and the USA are inextricably bound up with histories of enslavement and of the enslaved. And yet, both countries have failed to fully recognise or interrogate these pasts. Over recent months activists and campaigners have forced a reckoning with the symbols of this history, from the toppling of the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol, to the fall of numerous Confederate statutes in the United States. They have made headline news and provoked debate about what should be done with monuments to enslavers and what should fill the gaps in our public history.

This online event will bring together two leading scholars of public history and collective memories of slavery. Jessica Moody and Stephen Small will join us for a conversation about histories of slavery and their place in contemporary Britain and the USA.

Click here to watch via our Youtube

Writing Statues: Creative Writing Workshop with Postcolonial Studies Centre writer-in-residence Eve Makis

Wednesday 17 February 2021, 6.30 pm – 8 pm

Creative writing workshop inspired by controversial statues. What would a statue say if it could talk? Would it be indignant about its removal? Curse its creator? What stories could it tell you? What late night assignations has it witnessed? Come along and make things up. Express yourself about public art in a creative way.

All participants will get the chance of having their work edited and included on a spoken word album bringing their written work to life.

In the second instalment of our year-long Formations programme, delivered in partnership with Nottingham Trent University’s Postcolonial Studies Centre, we are pleased to announce our November and December events, under the thematic banner – Formation: Land, focusing on land, agriculture, landscape, and place. We will consider dispossession, migration, and ways the human and land interact, and we invite you to think about recent innovative writing about how humans are connected with the living environment and our heritage.

Valentina De Riso, ‘Indigenous-settler Relations in Canada and Land-Based Reconciliation in Lee Maracle’s Celia’s Song’

Wednesday 18 November 2020, 7 pm – 8.30 pm

Focusing on the context of Indigenous-settler relations in Canada, this talk considers the ways in which settler-colonialism damages the land and peoples’ relationships to it through exploitation and policies of assimilation, dispossession, and forced relocation aimed at erasing Indigenous identity. Drawing from Lee Maracle’s novel, Celia’s Song, and from Indigenous philosophies of relationality that posit a complex system of relations between peoples and more-than-human beings (animal, plants, ecosystems), Valentina explores how restoring sustainable relationships to the Earth is crucial for establishing and maintaining peaceful relationships between Indigenous peoples and settlers in Canada.

Click here to watch via our Youtube

Book launch: Jenni Ramone, Postcolonial Literatures in the Local Literary Marketplace: Located Reading

Tuesday 8 December 2020, 6.30 pm – 8 pm

Interviewed by Bethan Evans, AHRC Midlands 4 Cities funded doctoral candidate at NTU.

In this event, Jenni discusses the significance of reading for understanding place (Cuba, Nigeria, the UK, and India), and some of the fascinating publishing and reading locations explored in the book. You can purchase a copy of the book here.

Click here to watch via out Youtube

Landscape Writing: Creative Writing Workshop with NTU’s Postcolonial Studies Centre writer-in-residence Eve Makis

Wednesday 25 November 2020, 6.30 pm – 8pm

Join a session with Eve Makis exploring urban and rural landscape writing. Learn how to evoke a landscape using your senses, taking inspiration from the works of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Elif Shafak. All levels welcome.

Eve Makis is the author of four novels, a life-writing guide, and an award-winning screenplay. She teaches fiction on the MA Creative Writing course at Nottingham Trent University, where she is writer in residence for the Postcolonial Studies Centre.

All participants will get the chance to have their work edited and included in a planned NTU anthology.

Longing to Belong: student-led conference on ‘Belonging’

Wednesday 9 December, 9.30 am – 4.30 pm

Join us for a conference curated by a collective of second year NTU English students, centred around Elizabeth-Jane Burnett’s The Grassling.

The title of the conference, ‘Longing to Belong’, raises questions surrounding our relationship with the term ‘belonging’. It focuses on writers from the diaspora, as we believe that their relationship with belonging is a unique and under-represented experience. Featuring three guest speakers; Eve Makis, Panya Banjoko and Helen Cousins.

Click here to watch via our Youtube

From Brixton to Jamaica with the acclaimed novelist Alex Wheatle – in conversation with Eve Makis

Thursday 10 December 2020, 6.30 pm – 7.30 pm

Eve Makis will be interviewing Alex Wheatle about his recently published YA fiction book, The Cane Warriors.

A prolific writer, Alex has had success in many forms including lyrics, poetry, short stories, plays and novel writing for adults and children. His work has been influenced by Brixton, where he grew up, his Jamaican heritage, and his experiences of living in the Shirley Oaks Children’s Home. He developed a hearty reading habit during his time in prison after the Brixton riots and has never looked back. Alex’s latest Young Adult novel, The Cane Warriors, published to critical acclaim in October, is based on the true story of a slave uprising on a sugar cane plantation in Jamaica in the 1700s. In 2008, Alex was awarded an MBE for services to literature and later won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize for his book, Crongton Knights.

Alex’s life story was filmed as part of the mini-series, Small Axe, created and directed by Steve McQueen (director of Twelve Years a Slave) and shown on BBC One last Sunday.

Click here to watch via our Youtube

We’re pleased to be presenting an online conference, ‘Patterns of Struggle and Solidarity’, in collaboration with Nottingham Trent University’s (NTU) Postcolonial Studies Centre. The conference aims to explore the practice and study of cultural activism from any discipline across postcolonial studies.

The engagement with cultural activism has long been a prominent concern in postcolonial studies; in our current moment, this focus is rife for exploration and, crucially, interrogation. How do academics fit into the field of cultural activism? How do academics and activists conceptualise patterns of struggle and solidarity? What role does postcolonial research play in supporting and amplifying the voices and work of cultural activists, in particular in the fields of literature, art, film, craft and performance art? How do cultural activists and performers engage with postcolonial studies? Papers and panels will involve conversations between researchers, cultural activists and practitioners.

On Thursday, the authors Tsitsi Dangarembga and Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi talk about their latest work and their shared experiences with publishing and readership across Africa, Europe and North America; and the PSC’s writer-in-residence Eve Makis is in conversation with the nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize Sevgül Uludağ, the Turkish Cypriot journalist and peace activist. On Friday, scholars present their research in postcolonial studies on wide range of topics, followed by a performance of the Dalit rapper Sumit Samos. The events on Saturday include a roundtable discussion on craft, activism and ethics, a creative writing workshop, a conversation with the Palestinian culinary activist Mirna Bamieh and a screening of Reginald Campbell’s Tolerance (2013).

Organised by NTU’s Postcolonial Studies Centre and convened by Dr Nicole Thiara, Dr Amy Rushton, Dr Jenni Ramone, Midlands4Cities funded PhD researcher Thomas Lockwood-Moran and PhD researcher Purnachandra Naik.

Conference schedule

Thursday 17 June
In Search of the Missing, 4pm – 5.30pm

Sevgül Uludağ is a Turkish Cypriot journalist and peace activist. Working as an investigative reporter, she has been instrumental in uncovering the fates of hundreds of missing people. As part of a series of interviews entitled ‘the politics of disappearance’, writer Eve Makis will be talking to Sevgül about her work and how her search for peace has made her the target for physical and verbal threats. Sevgül Uludağ in conversation with Eve Makis
Watch on YouTube

Tsitsi Dangarembga and Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi in conversation, 7pm – 8.30pm

In the spirit of struggle and solidarity, this unique event brings together two of the most exciting writers to discuss their latest work and their shared experiences with publishing and readership across Africa, Europe and North America. Facilitated by Dr Nicole Thiara (Co-Director of the Postcolonial Studies Centre) and Dr Amy Rushton (Senior Lecturer, NTU)
Watch on YouTube

Friday 18 June
Welcome and Panel 1: Patterns of Aesthetic Belongings 9.45am – 11.30am

Participants: Ngahuia Harrison, Valentina de Riso, Ana Cristina Mendes and Pragya Sharma
Watch on YouTube

Panel 2: The Dynamics of Struggle 1pm – 2.30pm

Participants: Sephora Jose, Aswathi Moncy Joseph, Putul Sathe and Margarida Martins
Watch on YouTube

Panel 3: Resistant Solidarities 3pm – 4.30pm

Participants: Dani Olver, Anandita Pan, Debashrita Dey & Priyanka Tripathi and Abol Froushan & Ali Abdolrezaie
Watch on YouTube

Dalit Rap: Performance and Conversation 7pm – 8pm

Join us for a performance by the Dalit rapper Sumit Samos, followed by conversation with him moderated by Paul Adey.
Watch on YouTube

Saturday 19 June
Roundtable Discussion: Craft, Activism & Ethics 11am – 1pm

Kandy Diamond and Amy Rushton speak with Seleena Laverne Daye (artist and educator), Isobel Carse and Karen Hughes (Dormouse Chocolates), and Sofia Aatkar (Pom Pom Quarterly), to discuss issues of craft practice as activism.
Watch on YouTube

Saving Palestine’s Forgotten Foods 2pm – 3pm

Mirna Bamieh talks to Eve Makis, from her home in Ramallah, explaining how she uses storytelling and food as mediums to express her creativity and Palestinian identity.
Watch on YouTube

Workshop: Poetry and Protest – How Writers Use Words to Change the World 2pm – 4pm

Join Manjit Sahota (Poets Against Racism) and Leanne Moden to explore the vital role poetry plays in protest in a Zoom workshop.

Queer Resistance and Postcolonial Studies: A Screening of Tolerance (2013) dir. Reginald Campbell and Closing 4pm – 5.30pm

Please join us for a discussion guided by literary researchers Thomas Lockwood-Moran and Holly King, surrounding queer representation within postcolonial studies.
Watch on YouTube