Held in partnership with the British Library, this major international conference marks the culmination of the AHRC-funded research project ‘Making Britain: South Asian Visions of Home and Abroad, 1870-1950’, led by the Open University in collaboration with the University of Oxford and King’s College, London. Inter-disciplinary in approach, the project explores the manifold ways in which South Asians impacted on the formation of Britain’s cultural and political life prior to Independence and Partition in 1947. It adds historical depth and breadth to our present-day readings of ‘diaspora’ and ‘migration’, and counters the common perception that a British monoculture only began to diversify after the Second World War.
Showcasing new research from an impressive range of distinguished scholars, curators and writers worldwide, ‘Bharat Britain’ will map the various networks and affiliations South Asians and Britons formed across boundaries of ‘race’, ‘nation’, ‘culture’ and ‘class’, setting up connections which were to anticipate the shapes of things to come. These are evident in different areas of British cultural and political life, from the elitist literary and artistic circles of Bloomsbury where friendships were forged between poets and painters; to the anticolonial organisations which brought South Asian and British activists together in the lead up to Independence; to the battlefields of the two world wars where Indian sepoys and volunteers fought alongside British soldiers. Yet these interactions were also, at times, marked by hierarchies and dissent. Whether through riot, strike or petition, South Asians struggled for their rights as imperial citizens, shifting ideas of ‘Britishness’ in the process.
The conference will open the project exhibition ‘South Asians Making Britain: 1858-1950’ which will then tour across the UK. It will also launch and make available for the first time a unique interactive database comprising several hundred entries on South Asians in Britain.
To register and for further details, please go to: www.open.ac.uk/arts/south-asians-making-britain/conference.htm
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