03 June 2010
Engagement in the heritage sector is often fraught with difficulties. Ever noticed if you’re not white that when you go to your local or sometimes a national genealogical or family history centre people look at you as if to say “hey your history is not here”? The same seems to be in some museums especially regional ones where the idea that Black, African or Asian history can be part of British local and national history is somewhat alien. In many ways the reclaiming of our place in the collective memory of the British psyche is no different than the reclamation of indigenous histories in the Americas, or Australia. Yet I am surprised by the number of people I meet who deny the right to an Asian history in Eastern Africa, or a Native American history in the Caribbean or to an African history in Asia. It seems to me to address a world history at all levels (local, national, educational, arts, sciences) is the best way forward in a world that is increasingly interconnected. But I still question the motives and agendas of the gate-keepers – those trustees, directors and curators of heritage. What is their fear?