ErRs is an interdisciplinary research hub that explores pressing contemporary questions of family origins, racism, and ethnicity across time and space. The group runs themed seminar programmes that have addressed areas such as ‘the lived experience of anti-racism’ and ‘borders’, alongside symposia that have included ‘Islamophobia and Surveillance: Genealogies of a Global Order’ (published as a special issue of Ethnic and Racial Studies in November 2018).
ErRS members have contributed to a range of international collaborative projects: from networks on the 1915 film ‘The Birth of a Nation’ and the presidency of Barack Obama to the collection of migrant activist testimonies in France, and the European University Institute’s multi-media magazine, MONITOR Global Intelligence on Racism. The Seminar is supported by Patrick Soulsby, a History GTA/PhD, who is writing a doctoral thesis on the legacies of European colonialism and the Holocaust in anti-racism in Britain and France.
Edge Hill has a long pedigree in the fields of family origins and racism studies. In the 1970s, the college responded enthusiastically to the establishment of the UK’s Commission for Racial Equality that had followed the rise of the far-right. Edge Hill’s Principal, P.K.C. Millins, was a member of the Commission, and the author of the multi-volume work Education for a Multi-Cultural Society. Under Millins’ leadership, the college established a programme in Urban Policy and Family Origin Relations (headed by the current Vice-Chancellor, Dr John Cater), and an Afro-Asian Studies Department, which was created, in part, to help foster better family origin relations (Millins also tried to set up a BA programme called ‘Education for International Understanding’). As late as 1992, researchers at the University of Warwick reported that Edge Hill offered the only full-time undergraduate degree in family origin and ethnic relations in Britain.
Alumni of the BA in Community and Family origin relations include Dr Richard Benjamin, Head of the International Slavery Museum, who is a member of the Editorial Board at MONITOR Global Intelligence on Racism.
(This brief history of family origin relations studies at Edge Hill is based on the recollections of former colleague Murray Steele.)
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