‘I’m a cultural mongrel, influenced by all the places I have lived in, by what I see and hear and read, by the people I meet, the songs I hear and the streets I walk in’
– Imtiaz Dharker, artist in residence
Displacement is most often referred to as a geographical movement, but as well as place it has its roots in identity and the sense of home. It often represents an emotional shift, which can be sadness or pity but can also bring opportunity, ambition and growth. Writing around the theme of displacement is just as complex. In this special event, novelist and historian Mary Chamberlain, dance storyteller Akeim Toussaint Buck, and historian Peter Gatrell will discuss the theme of displacement in fiction and storytelling. Collectively they have written about slavery, the Windrush generation, trafficking, war, refugees and the history of modern migration.
About the speakers
Mary Chamberlain is a novelist and historian, and emeritus professor of Caribbean History at Oxford Brookes University. Her novel, The Dressmaker of Dachau, was an international bestseller, and published in 19 countries. Her second novel, The Hidden, came out in February 2019. The Scottish Herald called it ‘a compelling and heart-rending novel’ and it was a Sunday Times Must Reads pick of the best recent books.
She is the author of six acclaimed non-fiction books on women’s history and Caribbean history including Fenwomen, a portrait of women in an English Village, the first book published by Virago Press.
Mary has degrees from the University of Edinburgh and the London School of Economics and most recently, an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway, University of London. She is an experienced and accomplished speaker. She lives in London with her husband, the political scientist, Stein Ringen.
Akeim Toussaint Buck is a multifaceted performing artist, born in Jamaica and raised in England. He seeks to create moving, thought provoking yet accessible and free spirited projects. Since graduating from Northern School of Contemporary Dance with a first-class hons BA in Performing Arts, Akeim has been involved in cross-disciplinary projects working with a wide range of artists. His focus as a maker and collaborator is to combine expressive skills such as dance, writing and poetry, beat-box, singing and acting through performance and telling new stories that reach beyond existing dance audiences. Since graduating, Akeim has worked on numerous projects with different artists and companies around the UK as a dancer, beatboxer and actor. Companies include: Pauline Mayers (Mayers Ensemble), Chris Goode & Co, Balbir Singh Dance, Jamaal Burkmar Dance, John Liron (Wolf Kid Theatre), Heather Walrond Dance and Ballet Lorent.
Akeim regularly collaborates with fellow NSCD graduate Otis Jones, under the name Snakebox. Windows Of Displacement is Akeim’s first solo work exploring personal narratives, ancestral memory and the shifting and increasingly urgent politics surrounding the movement of people.
Peter Gatrell teaches modern history at the University of Manchester. His books include a trilogy on refugee history: the prize-winning book A Whole Empire Walking: Refugees in Russia during World War 1 (Indiana University Press, 1999); Free World? The Campaign to Save the World’s Refugees, 1956-1963 (Cambridge University Press, 2011); and The Making of the Modern Refugee (Oxford University Press, 2013). His latest book, The Unsettling of Europe: the Great Migration, 1945 to the Present, a new history of Europe seen through the lens of migration, appeared with Penguin Books and Basic Books in August 2019.
He has directed several research projects on population displacement, state-building and social identity in the aftermath of the two world wars. In July 2018 he started a three-year collaborative research project funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, entitled “Reckoning with refugeedom: refugee voices in modern history, 1919 to 1975”.
Peter Gatrell is a Fellow of the British Academy and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.
You can also see Akeim Toussaint Buck perform Windows of Displacement immediately following this panel event.
Book tickets for the performance here.