Framing the Critical Decade: After the Black Arts Movement

21-22 March, 2016, University of Bristol, UK

Convened by Dr. Dorothy Price and Dr. Elizabeth Robles

With generous support from the University of Bristol History of Art Department, the Transnational Modernisms Research Cluster, the Bristol Institute for Research in the Humanities and Art and the Bristol University Alumni Foundation

Keynote Speakers:

Professor Sonia Boyce, MBE (University of the Arts London)

Professor Lubaina Himid, MBE (University of Central Lancashire) in conversation with Dr. Dorothy Price (University of Bristol) and Melanie Keen (Director, Institute of International Visual Arts, London)

Helen Wilson Roe in conversation with Dr. Josie Gill (University of Bristol)

Speakers include: Lisa Anderson, Dr. Mora J. Beauchamp-Byrd (Spelman College), Dr. Alice Correia (University of Salford), Dr. Anjalie Dalal-Clayton (University of Arts London and Middlesex Univeristy), Yassmin Foster, Davinia Gregory (University of Warwick), Valda Jackson, Dr. Roshini Kempadoo (University of Westminster), Ella S. Mills (University of Leeds), Prof. Jane Rhodes (University of Illinois – Chicago), Dr. Rachel Rubin (University of Massachusetts – Boston), Dr. James Smethurst (University of Massachusetts – Amherst), Dr. Ashwani Sharma (University of East London), Dr. Dhanveer Singh Brar (Kingston University), Dr. Shawn Sobers (University of the West of England), Dr. Leon Wainwright (The Open University)


This conference aims to bring together scholars from across the humanities, critics and artists to engage questions around ‘Black British-ness’ and Black British creative production during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Often perceived, and dismissed, as a by-product of the social, critical and political milieu of the 1980s, the Black Arts Movement in Britain has been, until recently, largely packed away as something no longer relevant in a global, multicultural, even post-racial world. Building on and responding to a growing interest in reassessing the role of the Black Arts Movement in the construction of contemporary ideas around race, national identity, gender and aesthetics (see recent exhibitions such as Thin Black Line(s) (Tate, 2012), Staying Power: Photographs of Black British Experience (V&A and Black Cultural Archives, 2015) and Keywords: Art, Culture and Society in 1980s Britain (Tate Liverpool, 2014) and the opening of the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton), the conference asserts the continued and dynamic presence of the ‘Critical Decade’.

 It is the organisers’ aim that by bringing together scholars from a range of disciplines – art, the history of art, visual culture, literature, history, critical theory and sociology, to name a few – the conference will yield new ways of thinking about narratives of creative production in Britain at the turn of the twenty-first century.