Breaking Histories @ Shuffle Festival 2015 – Call for papers

Would you like to share your research with the public and be part of a unique community arts festival?

This is an invitation for papers as part of a new history event during the 2015 Shuffle Festival in East London, 24 July-1 August. Panels would include three 10-15 minute papers and time for general discussion. Panels aim to demonstrate the wide variety of research amongst history PhD students and early career researchers happening now.

The themes for this year’s Shuffle Festival are Migration, Movement and Place. Though a connection to these themes would be useful, what is more important is that the papers reveal a range of historical debates and discussions. Let’s show that historical research is breaking boundaries, breaking conventions and should be breaking news!

The Shuffle Festival is a week-long annual event in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park. It involves film, science education, storytelling, performance art, architectural installations, walks, food, comedy and music. This year we’re adding history to the list!

Breaking Histories is organised with support from the Raphael Samuel History Centre (RSHC). The RSHC is a research and educational centre devoted to encouraging the widest possible participation in historical research and debate.

How to be part of the festival

Please send 100-200 words on your research and why you think it’s important (essentially what you’d like to talk about). It would be great if you could link your research to the festival themes, but it is not essential.

Please send this by Tuesday 26th May to

Please include your availability for the festival. We don’t have a set date but we will have an hour slot on a weekday evening or weekend daytime between Friday 24 July and Saturday 1 August 2015.


Raphael Samuel History Centre

RSHC New Historians Network

Shuffle Festival

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What is Radical History? conference

Julie Russell, Luca Lapolla and Diarmaid Kelliher have finalised the speakers for their upcoming conference entitled ‘what is radical history?’ on 24 March 2015 at Birkbeck. Here is a pdf of the timetable: Radical History Conference Timetable – 24Mar15.

There are 6 panels split over three sessions, with 2 panels running concurrently in each session. The day concludes with a roundtable featuring Dr Becky Taylor (Birkbeck), Dr Robbie Shilliam (QMUL), and Mike Jackson (Gays and Lesbians Support the Miners).

Session 1: a) Radical historiographies, and b) Urban and rural workers.

Session 2: a) Political commitment, and b) The state and authority.

Session 3: a) Social movements and protest, and b) Radical education.

We are very pleased with the quality and variety of the abstracts submitted and very much look forward to the day. We hope you can join us!

For more information see:

To register:

LGBT History Conference


The 2nd “What is & how to do LGBT History?” conference, hosted by the Lesbian and Gay Foundation, is taking place in Manchester on 13-15 February 2015. This is part of the 1st National Festival of LGBT History, and there are a huge number of talks and events taking place – with several RSHC members making an appearance too!

Click here for more info including the full programme of events.

Radical history today: come and meet the Raphael Samuel History Centre

The Raphael Samuel History Centre is a four-way partnership between Queen Mary, Birkbeck, the University of East London, and Bishopsgate Institute. In the spirit of its founder – the socialist historian Raphael Samuel (1934-1996) – the Centre is dedicated to fostering radical history in and beyond the academy. Its members work in many areas, from London history and ‘heritage’ studies to histories of sexuality, memory studies, psychoanalytical history, history and public policy, and the history of feminism. We have many postgraduates among our members.

Come and meet us! We are holding an open forum on Feb 9th at 5.30 pm in the Arts 2 Building, 4th floor Senior Common Room (Queen Mary UL, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS).

Barbara Taylor (QMUL director of the RSHC) will speak briefly about the Centre’s work, followed by short presentations from two or three of our pgr members, then general discussion. Wine and nibbles will be served. All welcome!

Report on our 10 June meeting – and call for volunteers!

By Diarmaid Kelliher

The New Historians’ Network met at Queen Mary on the 10th June. The original plan was to have an education policy advisor for the Labour Party come to speak and continue the debate from our previous meeting around history in schools. Unfortunately the speaker had to cancel so we were left to our own devices, which somehow led to us discussing the question: what is radical history?

The conversation was interesting and widespread, and despite the wine I remember some of it. There was debate around whether radical history was a matter of the object of study: for some people, there was clearly an emphasis on recovering the voices of the marginalised, but also work that provides inspiration by looking to radical movements in the past that have sought to challenge the powerful. At the same time, or possibly an alternative, there was an idea that ‘radical history’ was more about a radical approach to the past – about the kind of questions being asked – which could be applied to much broader areas of history. It was suggested that elements of earlier forms of ‘radical history’ had become quite mainstream in universities at least. My own feeling was that radical history shouldn’t be simply a matter of the academically novel, which is not to say that it should ignore innovative thinking. It was also interesting to hear people considering their own political standpoint in relation to radicalism, and reflecting on their research in the light of this discussion to consider whether we were doing ‘radical history’ ourselves.

Suitably for a network linked to the Raphael Samuel History Centre, there were also thoughts about how history in general, and we specifically, might engage broader audiences and participants. The discussion also involved thinking about what kind of events the New Historian’s Network might organise in the future. We considered, for example, organising an event around the theme of ‘what is radical history?’ We talked about possibly hosting a series of evening events, rather than (or as well as) a day-long conference. There was quite a lot of enthusiastic discussion around what made for engaging conferences/events: for example a more conversational approach, greater time for discussion, showing films and so on. There were some very interesting ideas in the room, but as there were plenty of people involved in the network who hadn’t made this meeting, we also wanted to ask: what would people be enthusiastic about getting involved to organise?

We welcome your thoughts in the comments box below, or by email to or If you would be interested in helping with organising any events in 2014/15, or if you have ideas for events, please let us know!

What we’ve been up to so far

The New Historians’ Network has now had three meetings: the first on ‘why be a historian now’ at Queen Mary; the second on ‘political histories’ at Birkbeck; and the third on ‘engaging with curriculum policy debates’ at Birkbeck. At each, a group of PhD and early-career historians (mostly, though not exclusively, studying in the capital), have gathered and – over wine – discussed the academic and political climate in which we work.

At the most recent meeting, we discussed the ethics of engaging, as academics, in debates around secondary school history curriculums. We explored how we might ensure that history curriculums remain informed by the very best historical research, and prepare students for a circumspect and thoughtful understanding of the past, whilst respecting teachers’ expertise and without ‘tinkering’. We discussed what values should underpin the study of history in schools, and what intellectual tools students should be equipped with through this. The session ended with a debate over self-definition and political alignment.

The meetings so far have been discursive, respectful and stimulating. The next session will be held on June 10th 2014 at 6pm, at Queen Mary’s Mile End Campus in the Arts 2 SCR (Senior Common Room). All are welcome to attend and there will be wine and nibbles!