BY JAMES TWOMEY
A degree in black British history has been offered for the very first time by a university in the UK.
Goldsmiths University in New Cross has announced it will launch a Black British History MA course starting this September.
The course will cover 500 years of black British history, including the black Tudors, abolitionism, black Victorians and Victoriana, religious experiences, black involvement during the First and Second World Wars, and African and West Indian immigration to Britain.
Dr John Price, senior lecturer and head of the department of history, said: “Our MA Black British History programme will stimulate new knowledge and understandings about the understudied and often marginalised experiences of black Britons, while also situating those experiences into local communities and, ultimately, acknowledging the influence of the wider social, cultural and political contexts in Britain and beyond.
“Focusing on the black British experience serves as a healthy corrective to the prominence of US Civil Rights in the teaching of black history at UK schools and universities, while also fostering a more multidirectional understanding of black history that reassesses and reconfigures Britain in the histories of Africa, the Caribbean and North America.”
A recent report on race, ethnicity and equality from the Royal Historical Society showed that the number of black and minority ethnic students and staff remains low in UK history departments.
The RHS also suggests that school and university curriculums that teach different and diverse histories are important for engaging a wider pool of students and future historians as well as improving a public understanding of Britain’s past.
The university also started the first ever MA in Queer History in the UK in 2017, which now has an equal number of applicants as the history programme, and students may cross over modules from this course with the Black British History MA.
There are some distance learning courses with black humanities programmes from other UK universities, but this is the first Black British history MA to be taught in person.
Students enrolled on the MA Black British History can elect to take a module from MA History or Queer History, and students from those courses will have the option to study a Black British History module.
The degree joins other unique courses offered by Goldsmiths covering black humanities such as an MA for Black British Writing and an MA for Race, Media and Social Justice.
Recruitment for a lecturer or senior lecturer to teach the Black British History MA is currently under way.