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University of London marks Commonwealth Day

The University of London is hosting a range of events in March linked to the first Commonwealth Day since King Charles was appointed monarch.

The University of London is hosting a topical range of events in March linked to the first Commonwealth Day since King Charles was appointed monarch following the death of Her Majesty the Queen. This year’s events will also be the first to take place since Kingsley Abbott was appointed Director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the School of Advanced Study (SAS).

On Tuesday 14th March, Mr Abbott will deliver an online lecture on the subject of “Trends in international criminal justice and the Commonwealth.” Also on Tuesday 14th, Dr Matthew L Bishop, Senior Lecturer in International Politics at the University of Sheffield, will ask “What does a genuinely just transition mean for the Caribbean?” at SAS as part of the Caribbean Studies Seminar series.

Meanwhile the Institute of Historical Research (IHR) will host “Reaching out to “vulnerable” young people: “race”, class and the Brook Advisory Centre, 1960s-1990s,” a seminar presented by Dr Caroline Rusterholz (University of Cambridge). Dr Rusterholz will discuss contemporary concerns around class and race and highlights the persistence of certain racist and classist prejudices, while at the same time, stressing attempts at overcoming these prejudices.

King’s College London will also host a seminar on the 14th, “The Pull of Water: Power, Place and Religion in the Sundarbans,” in which ethnographer Dr Calynn Dowler (Vanderbilt University) presents research on water in the Sundarbans delta of West Bengal, India. 

Two very different events take place on Wednesday March 15th. The Institute of Commonwealth Studies plays host to an online conference, “Soft Power and the Contemporary Commonwealth,” as well as a major keynote lecture (in person) by the Hon Justice Michael Kirby, former Justice of the High Court, Australia, on "The Commonwealth Charter and its contemporary relevance." Justice Kirby was the original drafter of the Charter, and this lecture marks its tenth anniversary. 

Also on 15th March, City University is organising a seminar “On the other side – Threats to Sexual orientation and gender identity rights around the world.”

Meanwhile, Goldsmiths Writers’ Centre presents the winners of the Goldsmiths Prize 2022, Natasha Soobramanien and Luke Williams, in conversation with Dr Tim Parnell, chair of judges, Goldsmiths. The novel they co-wrote, “Diego Garcia,” focusses on the British government’s expulsion of the Chagossian people from their homeland.

Institute of Commonwealth Studies Director Sue Onslow said:

“Commonwealth Day 2023 comes at a pivotal moment for the association, and the issues confronting its member states. The history of slavery and its legacies and demands for acknowledgement and reparation are live issues across the Caribbean. Resentment that monarchy was integral to the economy and human exploitation of the slave trade, and the absence of a formal apology, is contributing to the rise in republican feeling in the region. Yet the media too often muddles the debate about republicanism with the separate issue of the 56-member Commonwealth, for which the King is also the ceremonial head. 

“The Commonwealth is facing significant challenges. Should it focus on practical problem solving such as enhancing trade, climate change loss and damage, and help with debt relief? Should it continue to admit new members or focus on being a more effective organisation for its current members? Where are the values of the Charter in this mix, independence of the rule of law and the fundamental right of freedom of expression and media which are integral to functioning democracy and good governance? 

“The role of the ICWS is not to celebrate the Commonwealth, but rather to understand its possibilities and limitations, and provide policy relevant analysis of individual countries & their societies. Anyone with an interest in the history and future of the Commonwealth, and wider Commonwealth studies, should attend these thought-provoking events.”

The Institute of Commonwealth Studies

Find out more about the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the School of Advanced Study.

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