The London Debates 2010

Wednesday 9 June 2010

On 13-15 May 2010, a small select group of early career researchers, representing universities across Europe, participated in the School’s second London Debates workshop. The London Debates are a series of three-day discussion workshops that bring together a small group of invited senior academics with a small group of outstanding early-career researchers, based in Europe and chosen by open competition, to debate a subject of broad concern in the humanities and social sciences. The subject of the 2010 debate was How does Europe in the 21st century address the legacy of colonialism?

The workshop was opened by the new Dean of the School, Professor Roger Kain, and featured a keynote lecture by one of France’s most distinguished commentators on the post-colonial state, Jean-François Bayart, Director of Research at the CNRS, entitled ‘Postcolonial Studies: a political invention of tradition?’ Workshop sessions, which considered the enduring legacy of colonialism for European political, cultural and academic life, were chaired and commentated on by leading academics in the field including, Nicholas Harrison, Professor and Head of Department, French, King’s College London; Stephen Howe, Professor in the History and Cultures of Colonialism, University of Bristol; and Richard Drayton, Rhodes Professor of Imperial History, Kings College London.

The workshop candidates, mainly scholars in their final-year of doctoral study or early career researchers, brought diverse perspectives, subject-area expertise, and experience to the discussions. Researchers hailed from countries around the world, including Brazil, Canada, Germany, Portugal, Romania, Switzerland and the UK, and the universities of Bristol, Bucharest, Carleton, Freiburg, Glasgow Caledonian, Hull, Lancaster, Lisbon, Royal Holloway, St Mary’s, Victoria of Wellington, and York were among those represented.

A report on the 2010 London Debates will be produced and disseminated at local, regional, national and European level. An edited volume containing a selection of the papers presented at the workshop is also planned.

Professor Philip Murphy, Director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, and academic convenor of the 2010 London Debates, was delighted with the success of the event: “The workshop was a very special and extremely rewarding occasion. The standard of the papers was excellent, and it was a great honour to have Jean-François Bayart as our keynote speaker. In the wake of the British general election, with indications that the new government wishes to review the way in which history is taught in our schools, the workshop was a timely reminder of how the legacy of Europe’s colonial empires remains a highly contentious and sensitive subject. Its findings could provide those responsible for any future revisions to the syllabus with valuable guidance on how to approach this most contentious area of our recent past.”

Further information on the 2010 Debate as well as past and future London Debates is available from the School website www.sas.ac.uk/londondebates.html

For more information, please contact Rosemary Lambeth at the School of Advanced Study, University of London on 020 7862 8695 / rosemary.lambeth@sas.ac.uk