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Episode 19

Hidden stories and lost voices from Black History are now being heard. The latest episode of Louder Than Words looks at Black History through the lenses of plays and literature.

Contributors to this episode are: 

  • Dr Jak Peake, Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre
  • Professor Jeremy Krikler, Department of History
  • Dr Holly Maples, East 15 Acting School

Dr Jak Peake is an expert on Caribbean literature and notes progress has been made in unlocking Black History, but he warns that more progress needs to be made: "We are now much more well-informed than we once were about the transatlantic slave trade, imperialism, national independence movements in Africa and the Americas, and yet we are still not that much closer to a position where non-European history is anything like well-known or easily accessible." 

Dr Holly Maples has helped create theatre based around figures previously excluded from mainstream historical narratives. Breaking the Silence raised awareness of Black British slave trade abolitionists in the 18th Century. She said: "Breaking the Silence was a part of a larger trend of performances in the UK addressing and challenging the United Kingdom’s dark history as a leader of the 18th century slave trade. Performing to the local community and school groups across the country, the production reframed the narrative of British abolition from one of Parliamentarian leadership, to a collective grassroots movement championed by under-represented voices particularly erased from popular historical narratives because of their gender and/or race."

Professor Jeremy Krikler was inspired to write his play A Peril of the Sea, through his research into the eighteenth century slave trade and desire to expose people to the inhumanity and hypocrisy at its heart.

The play is based around the atrocity aboard the slave ship Zong in 1781 when over 133 slaves were put to death and insurance later claimed on them.

Professor Krikler said: "A Peril of the Sea has been performed for general audiences and it has also taken the difficult questions it explores into the teaching of secondary school students and into the training of teachers."

The Louder Than Words Podcast

Professor Jules Pretty has created the Louder than Words podcast to encourage difficult discussions, to offer a platform to people making a difference and to explain how you can take action on issues you care about.

This is the first podcast from the Centre for Public and Policy Engagement and was originally developed with CommsConsult. The latest series is being produced by Ali Walker from the University's Media Centre team.

The Louder Than Words Podcast shows how research delivers solutions to global problems, how we can improve people’s lives and how we can inspire people to take action now. Each episode of Louder Than Words will look at a key global issue or research challenge and give you a chance to hear from leading researchers, policy makers, thinkers and campaigners plus those directly affected by the issue.

The third series is looking at the web of life, saving the seas, the baby lab, patient involvement and improves lives, indigenous voices, our bodies and images, immersion in theatre and Black History.

The first season looked at climate change, migration, mental health, inequality and nature as therapy. The second season looked at the Warner Textile Archive, telecommunications pioneer Marconi, disasters and how we prepare for them, our planet and crop production and surveillance technology. Join us and subscribe to upcoming podcasts.

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