Colonialism Contested

Thur 21 Nov, 6pm – 7pm in Art Exchange 

In response to Open Your Eyes, Jeremy Krikler (Dept of History, UoE) and Jak Peake (Dept of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies, UoE) will discuss issues of race, memory, representation and the legacies of colonialism.

Jak Peake

From Olaudah Equiano’s eighteenth-century autobiography, The Interesting Narrative, through to Ralph Ellison’s 1952 classic novel, Invisible Man, remembrance of the colonial past, its impact and its survivors has often been central to the work of artists of colour. Indeed, for such artists, the question of their visibility and representation—and specifically how to represent traumatic legacies of slavery, exploitation and social exclusion—has often been an important, if not conflicted, one.

Dr Jak Peake will explore the interconnections between literature, visual art, race, and colonialism from the late eighteenth century to the modern day. In particular, he will examine how self-representation amongst artists and people of colour has evolved and why remembrance continues to be relevant today. Considering both colonial and postcolonial art, his primary focus will be on 1893 World’s Columbian Exhibition, held in Chicago, and early to mid- twentieth-century, black American literature and visual art.

Jeremy Krikler

Probably nothing exemplifies the power of imperialism and colonialism on British culture and society than the fact that it has shaped those features that are commonly imagined to be opposed to colonial subjugation. Thus, while modern civil society in Britain can be shown – through NGOs and their supporters – to be concerned for the rights and welfare of former subjects of the empire, it has to be alert to the degree to which such concerns can sometimes be shaded by the paternalism borne of empire.

Jeremy Krikler will explore how that great abolitionist movement against slavery and the slave trade – in many ways, the movement that is foundational to ‘human rights’ culture in Britain – enmeshed itself with British imperialism. Moreover, by its overwhelming focus on Africans and slaves as victims, it denied them agency, whilst its atrocity literature and imagery can be shown to have had a dehumanizing aspect.

Join us for a fascinating evening that broadens to scope of Open Your Eyes, using the artworks on show as a starting point to have wider debates and conversations.

Followed by Q&A and a drinks reception.

Admission free, all are welcome.

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