As the world celebrates Black History Month 2020 Edge Hill’s International Centre for Racism (ICR) is calling on historians to take part in an international conference that seeks to re-evaluate the representation of race in world history.

Although the historical study of race has grown significantly in recent years, evidence suggests most of this research is confined to the “History of Race” or focuses on late modern colonial, global, and postcolonial histories. This online conference seeks to change that.

Centring Race in History: Antiquity to the Present, organised by the ICR with partners MONITOR Magazine and the EUI Department of History and Civilization, will be held from 23 to 25 November 2020.

It is hoped the conference will encourage historians covering all periods of history to submit papers, give lectures and discuss how race has been a key factor in global events from pre-history up to the modern day.  

A picture of Dr James Renton.
Dr James Renton

ICR Director, Professor James Renton, explained: “I think this kind of event, especially after the events of 2020, is so important. This year millions of people from all walks of life took part in the Black Lives Matter moment and said with one voice that they want change. The question is, how do historians put that into practice?

“It’s clear to me that many people love history, they see it as part of their identity and are fascinated by it. However, now is the time to re-examine what we believe and understand our history to be. We all need to take stock and think about how people from all over the world have been affected by the ideas and realities of race across history, from the first cities until today.”

A call for scholarly papers has gone out with the deadline on Friday, 23 October. Historians covering a range of periods have already answered by proposing fascinating papers looking at history and race differently.

Adding to this discussion will be the ICR’s inaugural PKC Millins Lecture, delivered by one of the keynote speakers, Professor Satnam Virdee, from the University of Glasgow. His lecture is entitled Racism Before Racialized Capitalism. The PKC Millins Lecture is named in honour of former Edge Hill Principle Ken Millins, who made the fight against racial prejudice central to his life’s work.

Professor Satnam Virdee said: “It is a wonderful honour to give the inaugural PKC Millins Lecture. For too long, the structuring power of racialisation and racism have been occluded in Eurocentric accounts of the making of the modern world. This international conference, with its focus on racism, presents us with an ideal opportunity to debate and even unthink the main coordinates of those long-standing debates that have undergirded the disciplines of history and sociology.

“My lecture will focus on the place of racism in processes of state formation and intra-elite conflict in the age of absolutism. It will tentatively suggest that racism emerges as a material force in that interregnum between a feudal order that is dying and an emergent bourgeois order that is struggling to be born.”

Alongside Professor Virdee, keynotes will be delivered by Professor Xianhua Wang, from Shanghai International Studies University, on early Mesopotamia; Professor Geraldine Heng, from the University of Texas at Austin, on medieval Europe; and Dr Kennetta Hammond Perry, Director of the Stephen Lawrence Research Centre, De Montfort University, on black life and state violence in Britain.

Follow this link for more information on the free conference and how to submit papers before the deadline  – monitoracism.eu/centring-race-in-history-antiquity-to-the-present.

Edge Hill University’s ICR has been set up to deliver advanced research on global questions concerning racism, building on the University’s long history of antiracism. The ICR is supported by a global team of experts in Europe, North America and Australia, and is directed by Professor James Renton and Dr Jenny Barrett

The centre is the official partner of MONITOR, which is based at the European University Institute in Italy. To find out more about the work of the ICR and the latest blogs and opinion pieces click here. Follow MONITOR on Twitter @monitoracism, Spotify, and subscribe to the YouTube channel.