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Inclusive histories

Inclusive histories and navigating contestation

In an increasingly diverse Britain, there is growing interest in exploring how the complex histories of race and Empire have shaped the society that we share today. In particular, following the anti-racism protests of 2020, the work that institutions across the arts and culture sector have been doing on inclusive histories – to acknowledge the legacies of colonialism and transatlantic slavery, and to recognise the histories of minority groups previously hidden or not told – has come under increased scrutiny.

However, efforts in the arts and culture arena to undertake work on these themes have also faced contestation over their attempts to re-examine some of the dominant perceptions of British history and identity. Especially over the last two years, debates around interpretations of our past have intensified and often become characterised by strongly-held views.

This project, led by British Future, will explore how UK arts funders can best support the arts and culture sector to navigate these heated debates around our complex and sometimes controversial history. To gather insights and experiences, we are looking to hear from a range of practitioners and opinion formers, to consider strategies on how to undertake inclusive history work in ways that can more confidently prepare for and navigate contestation.

Alongside our interviews and practitioner roundtable discussions, we are also keen to hear from others working in the UK arts and culture arena on themes of inclusive histories, who would like to engage in our research.

We currently have an open call for evidence, for practitioners working on this space to submit information about their projects on inclusive histories, and insights on how they have fielded and responded to contestation. This will remain open until Tuesday 31 May 2022.

If you would like to learn more about how to submit evidence to this project, please click here for the full details.

This research is commissioned and funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the Art Fund. A summary of the research findings will be available at the end of the project.