Beyond Books | Hidden Heritage
This Beyond Books talk welcomes Dr Nathaniel Adam Tobias
Coleman in conversation with award-winning broadcaster Fatima Manji who brings a vital new perspective on British history with her book Hidden Heritage which searches for a richer and more honest story of a nation struggling with identity and the legacy of empire.
We’ve been honoured to be proximate to many brilliant minds exploring our collective memory of colonial and anti-colonial arguments, including Dr Kavita Bhanot (Decolonise Not Diversify), Aliyah Hasinah, Shaheen Kasmani and Sumaya Kassim (The Past is Now), Melz Owusu (Decolonise Da Ting) and more. In January 2018, Dr Kavita Bhanot and Dr Nathaniel Adam Tobias
Coleman jointly approached Impact Hub Birmingham to convene a regular and frequent space in which to bring together, in a Community of Practice, some of the many different threads of colonial-critical work that had, up until that year, been happening independently in Birmingham. Non-hierarchically seated in a circle, taking turns at agenda-setting and facilitating, the ‘Decolonial Community of Practice’ met every two weeks for two years and one of its culminating activities was Literature Must Fall, in September 2019.
We invited Nathaniel to host this conversation with the incredible Fatima because they don’t shy away from difficult conversations, especially around colonial heritage in Birmingham. We warmly welcome you to join this conversation online from where you are to explore the ‘hidden’ heritages Fatima brings to the surface, and what they mean to the many communities in Birmingham and beyond.
About Hidden Heritage
Fatima Manji’s book asks a number of pertinent questions that are relevant to many today. Why was there a Turkish mosque adorning Britain’s most famous botanic garden in the eighteenth century? And more importantly, why is it no longer there? How did one of the great symbols of an Indian king’s power, a pair of Persian-inscribed cannon, end up in rural Wales? And who is the Moroccan man that stole British hearts depicted in a long forgotten portrait hanging in a west London stately home?
Throughout Britain’s galleries and museums, civic buildings and stately homes, relics can be found that beg these questions and more. They point to a more complex national history than is commonly remembered. These objects, lost, concealed or simply overlooked, expose the diversity of pre-twentieth-century Britain and the misconceptions around modern immigration narratives.
Hidden Heritage powerfully recontextualises the relationship between Britain and the people and societies of the Orient. In her journey across Britain exploring cultural landmarks, Fatima Manji searches for a richer and more honest story of a nation struggling with identity and the legacy of empire.
Praise for Hidden Heritage
“This is such an important, brave book that sheds a calm, bright light on the complexity of history at a time when simplistic assumptions have become the norm. It is truly brilliant.”
“A compelling read about a history of Britain rarely cited and one that enriches an understanding of our complex, intriguing and wonderful past. An upbeat and important narrative that roars with tigers, with the soldiers of the Great War amid the grand homes we might visit of a weekend. Each object discussed is a gateway to a thrilling story from the past that is always presented responsibly by an impressive historian.”
“Hidden Heritage is a timely, brilliant and very brave book that reveals the deep ties that connect Britain with the Islamic world. Written with great flair and deep empathy, it should be read by anyone interested in this country’s agonised soul-searching over its multi-cultural identity.”
—Jerry Brotton, author of This Orient Isle: Elizabethan England and the Islamic World
About Fatima Manji
Fatima Manji is an award-winning broadcaster and journalist who anchors the UK’s Channel 4 News, the nation’s most popular adversarial nightly news programme. She reports on major national and international stories, and is best known for breaking stories with a global impact: including the tale of Saudi princesses held hostage for years by their father the King; giving voice to the heart-rending testimonies of internally displaced Iraqis fleeing ISIS; investigating an MI5 spy accused of entrapment in Northern Ireland; and tracing the perilous journey of victims of war across the Hungarian border in the face of rising anti-migrant extremism.
@fatimamanji on Twitter
@fatima.manji on Instagram
About Dr Nathaniel Adam Tobias
Dr Nathaniel Adam Tobias
Coleman is an independent scholar-activist born and based in Birmingham, writing a book about our memory of the colonial and anti-colonial arguments by which Birmingham built and attempted to abolish British Empire. The book is tentatively titled ’The House By The Rivers Of Blood: Birmingham’s Hidden History of British Anti-Slavery’. Read how they came to write this book, here. Listen to them talk about some of the themes of this book, here.
The portrait of Nathaniel we have used in the header for this event is by Ajamu.
About Beyond Books
Beyond Books acknowledges and treasures space for reading, lending, purchasing and discussing what books are, have been and could be to us. Bringing forward voices that encourage and cultivate conversations, offering narratives and ideas informed by our identities, lived experiences and dreams, it is a platform where books and other means of sharing stories are used to democratise knowledge, imagination, and enjoyment. We envisage Beyond Books will be key to unlock the dream matter in all of us, strengthening our infrastructure to unleash the capacity to engage, learn, grow and delve into many possibilities for ourselves and our places.