Difficult Histories & Positive Identities

Date / time: 25 February - 26 February, 10:00 am - 3:45 pm

Difficult Histories & Positive Identities

Join us for this round table, residential conference at Cumberland Lodge, to explore the legacy of difficult histories in relation to contemporary identities and belonging.Experts and practitioners from diverse educational institutions and civil society will come together for two days to investigate how engaging with difficult histories can help us to shape the positive identity of citizens, and to create meaningful feelings of political and social belonging.


As European societies become more diverse, historical events and conceptions are increasingly being explored from a revisionist viewpoint. Over the past few years, in Europe, history and its material and ideological legacies have become the subject of intense debate that is very much in the public eye, often prominently featuring in mainstream print and broadcast media. At a national level, does Britain need to revisit its own history in light of its colonial past? The way in which the Government and policymakers refer to our collective past impacts on our sense of national identity and belonging. Schools, universities, museums and other public bodies, in particular, are also grappling with conflicting ideas about the past. They are increasingly called upon to respond to calls for more critical historical perspectives and to openly acknowledge these difficult histories through changes to curricula or curation.

With these challenges in mind, some voices in society are calling for the repatriation of colonial ‘spoils’ or the removal of colonial artefacts from public spaces, as a form of revisionism or an acknowledgement of historical wrongdoing. All the while, individuals and communities within society are striving to build and develop meaningful collective and individual identities in relation to their own, complex social and cultural histories.


A diverse delegation of speakers and participants will address the following topics as part of the conference programme, through different types of session designed to get everyone involved in a candid conversation and open exchange of views:

  • How we teach history in schools and how that affects the formation of identities
  • How national and community identities are expressed in the built environment
  • How we present difficult histories and articulate community identities in museums, and the impact this has on identities and belonging
  • How we can reconcile difficult histories and build positive identities and feelings of belonging.


A full list of confirmed speakers can be found on our website: https://www.cumberlandlodge.ac.uk/whats-on/difficult-histories-positive-identities


Attendance at some of our events is by ‘invitation only’ because places are limited, and we aim to ensure a balanced and diverse representation of backgrounds and perspectives to enhance the quality of our dialogue and debate. To register an interest in any of the events taking place, please contact our Programme Department at enquiries@cumberlandlodge.ac.uk or call 01784 497796.


We offer a certain number of student bursaries to attend some of our events. You can download an application form in the downloads box on this page. To find out more about applying for a bursary to attend a Cumberland Lodge conference, please contact Rachel Smillie, our Education Officer, at rsmillie@cumberlandlodge.ac.uk, or call us on 01784 497781.

Location: Cumberland Lodge, The Great Park, Windsor SL4 2HP