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Hidden Histories logo

Hidden Histories is an alternative lecture series run by staff and students at Warwick which seeks to explore often-erased stories of oppression and resistance.

The series gives a platform to academic narratives and discourses which are often neglected or even deliberately erased from mainstream curricula, and opens these discussions up for students from any and all disciplines to access and engage in them.

The Students’ Union launched this series as part of the work to liberate the curriculum. The series seeks to highlight how the erasure of these histories impacts on contemporary perceptions of the world around us, and thus why it is important to learn about them. Though this initiative is extra-curricular, we hope that through “Hidden Histories” as a student and staff community, we can collectively explore and showcase what a truly liberated curriculum could look like.

Read the call for contributors to the Hidden Histories series here.

Next lecture in the series:

"Re-configuring the Discipline: Going Global in the Ancient World" delivered by Prof. Michael Scott


[Facebook event]

How do we reconnect the study of cultures from antiquity that have been isolated and siloed by centuries of scholarship? This talk focuses on the need to connect the Greek and Roman worlds - the focus of an entire discipline ’The Classics’ - back into the wider tapestry of ancient communities spanning from the Mediterranean to China, with whom the Greeks and Romans interacted frequently, and without whom the Greek and Roman worlds would have been fundamentally different. More importantly, how do we prepare students, traditionally trained to study narrow fields of history, to engage and study such vast canvases and the multiple cultures they contain. And what are the advantages for the student in doing so?

Previous events in the series:

"Queer pedagogy, queer history, and the road to inclusion" by Hannah Ayres

Watch the recording of the lecture here.

"What does inclusion look like in university classrooms?" This is a question often posed by equality and diversity departments within universities and the answers presented are often posed as straight forward and simple - don't make students feel uncomfortable, make everyone feel welcome and included etc. Taking queer history (and the study of sexuality and gender in history) as a case study, Hannah unpacks some of the complications that can arise from trying to incorporate an uncritical politic of inclusion, and argues that we should adopt some of the skills developed through queer pedagogy: allowing our work to disrupt established norms and taken for granted knowledge; truly incorporating topics beyond surface level engagement; allowing a place where students feel able to critically engage with difficult topics in a safe way and to allow space for discomfort and emotive responses to enter the classroom.

"The Bitter History of the Booker Prize: The Booker Company, Sugar Imperialism, and the Battle for British Guiana" by Dr Ben Richardson

Watch the recording of the lecture here.
Explore the Modern Records Centre materials on the topic via this padlet.

"The Booker Prize takes its name from its initial sponsor, Booker McConnell, one of the preeminent companies of the British empire. The commercial lifeblood of Booker had been sugar and its heartland was British Guiana. Indeed, so dominant was it in colonial affairs that the country was dubbed ‘Booker’s Guiana’. This talk explores the history of British imperialism in the Caribbean and its legacies for both modern-day Guyana and the UK. The event will consist of a pre-recorded lecture followed by live Q&A. Please feel free to type questions during the lecture as well as ask them afterwards."

"Sexuality in the Holocaust" delivered by Dr Anna Hájková, for Holocaust Memorial Day

In Winter 1945, prisoners of the Tiefstack satellite camp in Hamburg watched with a mix of fascination and disgust what they understood as a relationship between their guard Anneliese Kohlmann and a Jewish woman prisoner. Most of the survivors described Kohlmann as “decent.” Yet, the queer relationship was perceived with discomfort, reflecting on wide-spread homophobia in the prisoner society. Using Kohlmann as a case study, this talk shows how to make sense of enforced and consensual sexuality in the camps, and how queer history of the Holocaust allows us to address agency and powerlessness of Holocaust victims.

"The Stonewall Riots and the Legacy of Marsha P Johnson" delivered by Dr Michell Chresfield

Trans pioneer Marsha P Johnson is perhaps one of the most well-known but misremembered figures within the Stonewall Riots. Though there have been several cinematic portrayals of Stonewall, Marsha has most often appeared as a supporting figure if at all, a move that has led to accusations of whitewashing and trans erasure. This talk treated the debates surrounding the cinematic depictions of Marsha P Johnson and the Stonewall Riots as an opportunity to rethink Marsha’s legacy within the riots as well as within the broader movement for gay liberation.

"Queer Selfhoods: Sodomy Trials and Gay Subculture in the Long 18th century England", with the Queer History Reading Group

This event looked at four short trials, letters and poems in order to explore how queer bodies, selves and desires were represented/negotiated in English socio-legal discourses and beyond in the long 18th century. Please find the short readings which were prepared for this event here.

“Hidden Legacies of Black British Activism within the Student Movement & Beyond” delivered by Jade Bentil and Sue Lemos

Listen to the audio recording of the event here:

Creating a collective politics that sought to uproot their experiences of racist, sexist and economic oppression in the UK, Black British feminists refused to be silent. Nearly forty years on from this historic moment however, the Black Women’s Movement of the late 1970s and 1980s has been erased from the historiography of women’s history and activism in Britain.” Jade Bentil

To relaunch the Hidden Histories alternative lecture series in its second year, we will begin with a lecture about a turning point into the history of British activism - centred around the legacies of students of colour’s activism, even including some examples of organising and mobilising at Warwick.

We look forward to welcoming both two Black feminist historians, Jade Bentil, who is also a writer, and UK panellist on ‘The Grapevine’, and Sue Lemos, Warwick alumna, and researcher on the Young Historians Project to deliver this lecture, and prompt such a crucial uncovering of hidden histories.


“A Queer History of the Holocaust” delivered by Dr Anna Hájková

"Why were certain stories connected to sexuality of the Holocaust victims, such as people who engaged in same sex conduct, never told?

This event will explore the intersection of sexuality and violence in the Holocaust, and the erasure of certain sexualities from what has become the Holocaust canon. Through examining the narrative erasure of lesbians and gays who were deported as Jews, homophobia of the victim society, and sex barter, and by looking at cases of what the lecturer has termed “transgressive sexuality,” this event will contribute to our understanding of gender and sexual violence, consent, normative behavior during the Holocaust, and the politics of Holocaust archives.

This lecture will be delivered by Dr Anna Hájková. Anna is Assistant Professor of Modern Continental history at the University of Warwick. Her book manuscript on everyday history of Theresienstadt was awarded the Irma Rosenberg as well as the Herbert Steiner prize for 2014. She was coeditor of Theresienstädter Studien und Dokumente, and she also co-edited Alltag im Holocaust: Jüdisches Leben im Großdeutschen Reich, 1941-1945. Her essay on sexual barter received the Catharine Stimpson Prize for Outstanding Feminist Scholarship 2013. She is working on a project on transgressive sexuality in the Holocaust."


"Transgender Moral Panic - A Brief Social History" delivered by Ruth Pearce

"Over the last few months, there has been an enormous upsurge in media commentary that expresses concern about the role of trans people in public life. Gendered changing rooms, non-binary people, trans children and notions of self-definition have all come under intense scrutiny, with psychologist Meg-John Barker describing 2017 as "the year of the transgender moral panic".

For the 2nd lecture in our Hidden Histories series, Ruth Pearce will explore the background to the recent wave of media interest, taking in radical feminist theories, scientific racism and proposed changes to UK law. She will show how the transgender moral panic has been shaped by deep-seated cultural anxieties around sex and gender, brought to the fore by the precarious successes of the trans liberation movement.

Ruth Pearce is a trans feminist scholar. Her research primarily examines discourses, practices and experiences of trans health. Her PhD was awarded by the University of Warwick in 2016. Her thesis looked at how trans health is differently understood within trans communities, activist groups and professional literatures, with a range of meanings and practices contested within and between these spaces."


"Race, Intimacy, and the Hidden Histories of Extraction" delivered by Lisa Tilley

"What does 'race' have to do with resource mining and other forms of 'extractivism' such as oil palm and soya bean production? What does 'intimacy' have to do with race and the racialisation of populations in resource-rich areas? How do mining and other extractive operations impact upon cultures of intimacy and why do sites of industrial-scale prostitution emerge alongside sites of extraction?

In this talk, Lisa Tilley looks at one resource frontier in Indonesia in order to answer these questions. Working from the Dutch colonial era through to the present, she provides an examination of how colonial discourses and practices have been adopted and performed by corporate agents in order to racialise the Indigenous locals.

Integrally, she considers how racialised colonial representations of Indigenous intimacy have formed the rationale for the interventions of actors from missionaries through to corporate and state agents in Indigenous intimate habits.

This talk will cover how such interventions are performed simultaneously through the discouraging of polygamy and through the introduction of operations of industrial-scale prostitution alongside mining sites. Overall, by mapping out the connections between race and capital in relation to intimacy, this talk will add to our understanding of how racial difference is produced and deployed in the service of extraction, dispossession, and expropriation.

Lisa Tilley is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Queen Mary University of London in the UK and co-convenes the Colonial, Postcolonial, Decolonial (CPD) Working Group of BISA as well as the Warwick-QMUL Raced Markets collaborative research project."


"British National Eugenics - The Golden Age" featuring contributions from Lara Choksey, Nathaniel Adam Tobias C----, and Clive Harris.

Listen to the audio recording of the event here:

"Eugenics, the science of good ("eu") breeding ("genes"), was invented in Britain by Francis Galton, Charles Darwin's cousin, in the nineteenth century. Presenting a pseudo-scientific justification for racism, ableism, and imperial ventures abroad, eugenics fascinated thinkers across the political spectrum in Britain, presenting the opportunity to breed in "good" stock, and to breed out the "bad" in the name of social improvement.

In this student-staff roundtable, we look at how eugenics shaped imperial world-building during its golden age: the "Scramble for Africa", Birmingham's back-story in the invention and institutionalisation of British National Eugenics at University College London in 1904 and 1911, and the role of public scientists in promoting eugenic agendas in the years leading up to World War II. How is eugenic thought embedded in contemporary notions of what it means to be "British", what are some of its contemporary manifestations, and how can we go about dismantling this inheritance? The roundtable features contributions from Lara Choksey, Nathaniel Adam Tobias C----, and Clive Harris.