Researching Race

by YPU Admin on October 30, 2013. Tags: race and Research

As part of series on Black History Month, Hannah Niblet takes a look at the resources available to research race at the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre:



There are two big messages I always highlight to new visitors when I’m showing them around the Centre:


1 – Everything is in one place! I know this sounds obvious, but if you’re studying multiculturalism, in a bigger library you’d have to hike between the history, education, popular culture, and so on, sections to collect together your relevant resources. Here the history, education and culture sections are only steps apart, making cross-disciplinary research much easier and making browsing much more rewarding.


2 – Primary resources bring secondary resources to life! We have a great library, but we also have an extensive and growing collection of archival material, oral history and ephemera. These provide the colour – the voices of real people who have negotiated life in multicultural Manchester. If you like, they put flesh on the bones of the theory, policy and discussion you’ll find in the library.


People sometimes ask why we don’t use the standard Dewey library classification system. As a system it is very biased towards Western paradigms of knowledge, and simply wouldn’t work for a small, specialised collection like ours. So we just arrange books by topic (Arts, History, Welfare, etc) – much simpler and much friendlier, especially for those who aren’t used to using academic libraries.


Our journals and periodicals also collection is also growing, including academic as well as community, political and popular publications. We have an almost full run of Race Today, a monthly magazine that was a leading organ of Black politics in Britain during the 1970s and 80s – there’s a great research project for someone there, to chart the development of Black political thought in Britain through its print media. Anyone?


As an art lover my favourite section is Art, Media and Sport. I recently came across a little book of postcards ‘Early Black Photographers, 1840 – 1940’ full of really striking images that I haven’t seen in other histories of photography. I was strangely inspired by ’They Still Draw Pictures: Children’s Art in Wartime’ – these non-verbal attempts to communicate horror and hope definitely transcend language and culture.


Going Further...

If you would like to keep up to date with the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre, follow their blog here.


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