Centre for Research in Race and Rights (C3R)

Past projects

Draw for the Future: Nottingham Black History Visual Arts Project (2016)

This Connected Communities grant from the AHRC created a public mural in Hyson Green, in collaboration with the New Art Exchange. The mural and its accompanying workshops with young people connect the city’s heritage to its vision for the future, demonstrate the possibilities of academic-activist-artistic collaboration, and form a visual entry-point to the Global Quarter in Hyson Green.

In the United States, murals adorn the walls of historically black neighbourhoods in the thousands, narrating African American history from slavery to the election of the first black president. Although England has a less established mural tradition, community murals exist in dozens of cities, including in Reading, Brighton, Hull and Birmingham. Focusing on the city’s black community, the new mural depicts Nottingham's diverse histories and contemporary identities.

Civil Rights Documentary Cinema and the 1960s: Transatlantic Conversations about Race and Rights in the US and UK (2015-16) 

This British Academy Landmark Conference formed part of the Academy's events programme in 2016.

This British Academy conference brought together activists on the frontlines of the battle for civil rights in the US and for racial equality in the UK, documentary filmmakers and artists, and scholars of history, post-colonialism and film studies. The focus of the project was documentary cinema based in civil rights history and inspired by it. Scholars, filmmakers and activists, from Britain and the US, engaged in a transnational exchange of ideas around history, collective and cultural memory, witness-participation, media and visual culture, post-colonial and critical whiteness studies, film production, music, and narration in the making of cinema that intervenes creatively in the history of the 1960s.

Historians of the movement must think harder about the relationship between cultural production and social change and this project and the publications that develop out of it are designed to embed the study of documentary film in civil rights historiography. It also intervenes in debates about the role of emotions in civil rights historiography, and makes a case for the significance of subjective and imaginary sources and multiple and different cultural forms in extending that historiography


Race and Rights (2015-17)

This year-long British Academy-funded engagement project created a regional base for Race and Rights research and activities, with early career researchers and knowledge exchange partners at its centre.

The planned activities for the Race and Rights project included the creation of a new Midlands Race and Rights network (MIRAR) and network meetings, public dialogues between academics and activists on social justice topics at the New Art Exchange, a one-day Black Studies symposium, ECR training workshops on Race, Rights and Research Impact, a two-day Teachers' Institute on race and rights, Widening Participation roadshows and the launch of a collaborative visiting fellowship with Yale University.

The Slavery Lens: Interdisciplinary Strategies for Contemporary Abolition (2015-16)

This Discipline Bridging Award was led by American and Canadian Studies and the Centre for Research in Race and Rights.

It brought together six named staff members from American and Canadian Studies, Sociology, Business, Politics and Contemporary Chinese Studies, for a research collaboration that developed an interdisciplinary slavery lens and included regional network workshops, impact training, student collaboration, roadshow presentations, a conference and NGO, industry and policy seminars. The award established an interdisciplinary team that demonstrated the value of a slavery lens for multiple actors and disciplines, and designed innovative strategies for the contemporary antislavery movement.

Anthropological Artistry: Early Black and Jewish Women Ethnographic Filmmakers (2013-16)

This Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship uncovered artist-anthropologists Zora Neale Hurston, Katherine Dunham, Maya Deren, Eslanda Goode Robeson and Pearl Primus's pioneering contributions to inter- and early post-war art and anthropology to transform our understanding of anthropological influences in modernism.

The Anthropological Artistry project had two broad aims: to recover the work of leading Black and Jewish women artist-anthropologists and to chart connections between their fieldwork and their art.

African American Art (2011-16)

This Philip Leverhulme Prize in Art History supported the book projects Imaging Resistance: Representing the Body, Memory and History in Fifty Years of African American and Black British Visual Arts 1960-2010 (University of California Press), Stick to the Skin: A History of Contemporary African American Art (I.B. Tauris) and Inside the Invisible: Slavery and Memory in the Works of Lubaina Himid (1985-2011) (Liverpool University Press).

All three books for this project on African American art create new intellectual frameworks within which to interpret black art production. They used archival research to examine neglected artists and artworks, and theorised new approaches to contemporary art movements.

Picturing Frederick Douglass (2013-15)

This British Academy-funded project created a collection of all known Frederick Douglass photographs, for publication as a book by W.W. Norton. 

Neither Custer nor Twain, nor even Abraham Lincoln, was the most photographed American of the calamitous nineteenth century. It was Frederick Douglass, the ex-slave turned leading abolitionist, eloquent orator, and seminal writer whose fiery speeches transformed him into one of the most renowned and popular agitators of his age. This project reclaimed Douglass as a leading pioneer in photography, both as a stately subject and as a prescient theorist who believed in the explosive social power of what was then just an emerging art form. Five years of research have uncovered 160 separate photographs of Douglass—many of which have never been publicly seen and were long lost to history. The project hopes to transform our understanding of American photography and its vital place in the life and legacy of Douglass himself. You can find out more information about the project in the book Picturing Frederick Douglass (2015).

Remaking Modernism: Cross-cultural Encounters in Hispano Art, 1930-1960 (2012-13)

This AHRC fellowship grant supported the first book to consider Spanish-speaking Hispano artists as integral to the history of modernism in New Mexico.

The project explored innovation in Hispano art, in form, technique, iconography and subject matter, across a range of media, including painting, sculpture and photography, by recovering three much-neglected figures: santero sculptor Patrocinio Barela, black-and-white art photographer John Candelario, and painter Edward Chávez. This interdisciplinary project broadened the boundaries of key fields by reframing the narrative of modernist American art and by inserting Hispano cultural history into the more radical, politicised debates about artistic practice and identity within Chicano Studies and Latino Studies, fields from which Hispanos are generally sidelined.

Translating Penal Cultures (2012) 

An AHRC-funded project, this created a new and unique interdisciplinary research network of UK-based and overseas scholars working on institutions of confinement, practices of crime control, and penal cultures in a range of countries that include Russia, India, China, Mexico, New Zealand, Scandinavia, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

This project on penal cultures drew together researchers from the disciplines of language and linguistics, history, cultural studies, law, criminology, sociology, and translation studies who work on incarcerated populations and institutions of confinement in strategically significant, developing, and established nations.

'Suffering and Sunset': Horace Pippin's World War I Manuscripts and Paintings (2011-12)

This AHRC fellowship grant on the African American artist and WW1 soldier Horace Pippin supported a monograph and the first critical edition of his four unpublished autobiographies.

Addressing his widespread neglect within art history, this project recontextualised Pippin's life and works with a particular emphasis upon his World War I writings, paintings and illustrations. It showed that Pippin's dramatic canvases can be best understood in conjunction with his evocative manuscripts as they testify to his powerful conviction: 'I cannot forget suffering and I will not forget sunset.' You can find out more about the project in the book.

Social Capital and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (2006-09)

This three-year AHRC-funded project examined the workings of Martin Luther King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

The goals of this project on social capital and SCLC were racial equality and integration, which required the development of "bridging" social capital between black and white communities. But its operational strength lay in what might be termed "bonding" social capital (links inside the black community). SCLC's funding patterns reveal active social networks of donors and its "Citizenship Education Program" (a campaign to boost black political activism) illustrates how communal ties provide political leverage even for disadvantaged minorities.

Social Capital and Social Movements (2005-08)

This ESRC-funded seminar series brought together international scholars across the social sciences and humanities to analyse the significance of social capital in understanding social movements, including reactionary movements that defend lines of exclusion or discrimination. 

This seminar series on social movements involved postgraduate students, new researchers, and user groups interested in fostering voluntary activism.

Centre for Research in Race and Rights (C3R)

The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD