Event Registration: Universities and their Contested Pasts

Registration is now open for the symposium ‘Universities and their Contested Pasts’ to be held in the Samuel Alexander Building, University of Manchester (U.K.) on September 11 and 12, 2019.

For many years, universities and their pasts were seen as a benign backwater. However, more recently, attention has been drawn to the uncomfortable pasts of some of these institutions.  This two-day event seeks to explore and understand universities’ difficult pasts (both distant and recent) and how we should deal with them. The panels will consider the themes of: studying slavery; universities and empire; institutions and legacies; exhibitions; universities and the state.

The keynote speakers are Professor Astrid Swenson (Bath Spa University) and Dr Chris Renwick (University of York).  The full provisional programme is outlined below.

Registration closes on 27 August 2019.

Please register here


The event will be held in the University of Manchester’s Samuel Alexander Building (no.67 on the campus map) Lecture Theatre.

Provisional Programme: Universities and their Contested Pasts

Wednesday 11 September, 2019

13:00 Registration, tea and coffee, Samuel Alexander Building Foyer

14:00 Welcome and introduction, followed by keynote speaker Prof Astrid Swenson (Bath Spa University), Samuel Alexander Building Lecture Theatre

15:00 Paper session 1: Studying Slavery

Natalie Zacek and Matthew Stallard (University of Manchester): “Scholarship Funded by Slavery – Tracing the Cotton and the Cash that Built the University of Manchester.”

Richard Stone (University of Bristol): “Tobacco and Chocolate, Slavery and Abolition: Tracing the University of Bristol’s Connections to Enslavement.”

Alexander Scott and Andy Bevan (University of Wales – Trinity St David): “The Early History of the University College at Lampeter: An Agenda for a Bicentenary.”

16:30 Panel Discussion

Panel: Neil Curtis (Head of University Museums and Archives, University of St Andrews); Stephen Mullen (University of Glasgow); Natalie Zacek (University of Manchester).

17:40 Drinks Reception, Christie Bistro

Thursday 12 September

08:30 Registration, tea and coffee, Samuel Alexander Building Foyer

09:00 Keynote – Dr Chris Renwick (University of York), Samuel Alexander Building Lecture Theatre

10:00 Paper Session 2: Universities and Empire

Ian Harper and Roger Jeffery (University of Edinburgh): “Late Victorian ‘scientific racism’ and the University of Edinburgh’s collection of skulls from India.”

Sandip Kana (King’s College London): “The failure of Indianisation: Situating Roorkee Civil Engineering College in the anti-colonial project.”

Dongkyung Shin (King’s College London):A Transnational University Issue from Rhodesia to London.”

11:30 Break

11:50 Paper Session 3: Exhibitions

Lola Sanchez-Jauregui (The Hunterian Museum): “Curating Discomfort in the Hunterian Museum.”

Sue Donnelly (London School of Economics): “LSE 1969: marking the 50th anniversary of the LSE ‘Troubles.'”

12:50 Lunch

13:50 Paper Session 4: Institutions and Legacies

Eric Lybeck (University of Manchester): “The Forgotten Origins of American Academia in Germany.”

Joe Cain (University College London): “Eugenics, Karl Pearson, and the Legacy of Anglo-Saxon Nativism at UCL.”

Kevin Grace (University of Cincinnati): “Positioning the Facts: The Archivist’s Duty and the University of Cincinnati’s Racial Heritage.”

15:20 Break

15:40 Paper Session 5: Universities and the State

Keith Vernon (University of Central Lancashire):Contesting Control? Universities, the state and the marketization of higher education in England.”

Tatjana Šarić (Croatian State Archives): “The University of Zagreb Under Surveillance of Supreme Power – League of Communists of Croatia 1959 – 1964.”

Josh Patel (University of Warwick): “The welfare state and liberal economic thought in the Robbins Committee (1961-63): an uncomfortable alliance?”

17:00 Closing Remarks