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, explores 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 listening to 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.
You can explore the findings in this new report from British Future – Inclusive Histories: Narrating our shared past in polarised times. In this blog, Holly Donagh, our Director of Strategic Learning, Insight and Influence, reflects on this research, which we hope will give practitioners in the arts and culture sector the confidence to carry out this vital work.
This research is commissioned and funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the Art Fund.