Department of History

Historicizing trauma in colonial and post-colonial contexts

Project summary

‘Historicizing trauma in colonial and post-colonial contexts’ is a cross-disciplinary project, which uses ‘trauma’ as an analytical and conceptual tool to interrogate the structure of imperial violence during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and its legacy for both formerly-colonised and formerly-colonial. 

The geographical focus of the project will be primarily on Britain, India and the Caribbean, and the intersections between these different spaces. 

 Drawing showing black women working as a white person lies on a seat

Historicizing trauma’ brings together scholars from the disciplines of history, psychology, literature and art. Thinking critically about recent discussions of the relationship between psychological trauma, historical narrative and embodiment across generations, the project considers the psychological legacies of patterns of violence that were established as a result of the British imperial project.

Historicizing trauma’ began in May 2017 with a collaboration between Dr Onni Gust (Assistant Professor, Colonial and Post-Colonial History, University of Nottingham) and Dr Michael McMillan (Leverhulme Artist in Residence, UoN, 2017-18; Lecturer in Cultural Studies at the London School of Fashion and freelance artist), with support from Dr Nigel Hunt (Associate Professor, Clinical Psychology). The project is currently exploring Black British people’s memories of corporal punishment in family and school life during the twentieth century, with the intention of creating an oral and material history archive and exhibition.


Department of History

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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