RHS Panel — ‘Black British History. Where Now, Why Next?’

27 October 2023

RHS Panel ‘Black British History. Where Now, Why Next?’, 24 October 2023


Listen to this panel discussion


‘Black British History. Where Now, Where Next?’ (24 October 2023) was an opportunity to reflect on the major themes currently being pursued in Black British History, and their development in recent years. It’s also chance to propose new areas of research in the years to come.

In addition, panellists and audience members explore the infrastructure that supports the study of Black British History in UK Higher Education and beyond. Recent years have seen welcome advances, including the creation of posts dedicated to teaching and research. At the same time, the subject fights to establish itself in many university History curricula, while departmental cuts and the cost of a first or further degree create restrictions for those seeking to study in this area, and impede many who seek to pursue postgraduate research. Our panel and audience discussion also considered the health of the discipline outside Higher Education, in community projects and the media.

This event, held in UK Black History Month, brings together historians to consider the present and future of Black British History. Led by Professor Bill Schwarz, a longtime commentator and writer in this field, the event takes place on the fifth anniversary of the publication of the Royal Historical Society’s report, Race, Ethnicity and Equality in UK Higher Education (October 2018).


  • Hannah Elias is a Lecturer in Black British History at Goldsmiths, University of London. Hannah is cultural historian of Britain in the twentieth century researching Black British histories, religion, media and public history. She is Chair of the IHR’s Equality Working Group and a co-convenor of the Institute’s Black British History seminar, which is actively engaged in the promotion and facilitation of learning, debates and conversation about new currents in this developing field of study.
  • Kesewa John is a scholar of Caribbean people’s intellectual and political histories, with a doctorate on collaborations between French and English-speaking Caribbean activists in the decades prior to the Windrush docking. A former PhD student of Hakim Adi, and a History Matters conference organiser, Kesewa previously taught at the Université des Antilles in Martinique and Guadeloupe. She joined Goldsmiths, University of London, as Lecturer in Black British History in September 2023.
  • Liam Liburd is Assistant Professor in Black British History at Durham University and a historian of ‘race’ and racism, and empire and decolonisation, and their legacies in modern Britain. His publications include: ‘The Politics of Race and the Future of British Political History’, Political Quarterly (2023).
  • Bill Schwarz is Professor of English at Queen Mary University of London. Bill’s many publications include his Memories of Empire trilogy and his contribution to Stuart Hall’s Familiar Stranger. A Life between Two Islands (2017). With Catherine Hall, Bill is also General Editor of the Duke University Press series, The Writings of Stuart Hall.

The event was introduced by Emma Griffin, President of the Royal Historical Society and Professor of Modern British History at Queen Mary, University of London.