Black History Month UK was put
into October to empower students to start the academic year as they wish to end
it – successfully. Unfortunately, many institutions fail to directly engage
students during this vital month. It is an opportunity to reach out to those
students whose ancestry does not lie in the UK and demonstrate the success of
their culture. Similarly, it is an opportunity to teach their peers to
appreciate the diverse world we live in and just how closely connected we all
are – whether that be sharing resources, cultural practices or swapping cooking
tips. Where one has the resources and ability to do so, we should reach out to
the student community and work to bring it together to empower, enlighten and
celebrate the Black cultures. As BME Student Officer, this is what I have been
working towards – cohesion among the BME communities in Manchester.
There is often confusion when
we use the term Black, BME and even BAME in our daily lives – which is
politically correct? Which do you fit into? If you do not self define as
Caucasian, then you fit into them all as they are all used interchangeably
across different organisations. This then leaves the question of what does this
make of Black History Month which traditionally works around the history of
African and Caribbean cultures; that choice is left down to you. There is no
right or wrong answer. This year with Black History Month, I used it as an
opportunity to unite as many different cultures across Manchester as possible
under the theme of empowering, enlightening and celebrating. Working with a
number of supportive students, we were able to employ the plan that has led to
a month of celebration and education for staff, students and local community
There are some individuals such
as Morgan Freeman, who believe that Black history should not be confined to one
month but incorporated into the mainstream archives. Although I understand his
purpose, I disagree. Within the current way of the world we are living in, we
need a period of time to focus attention on BME history. All cultures,
including the English, have contributed to the world in their own way and no
matter where you are in the world, this should be recognised. Black history
(and BME history), will not be confined into one month forever, but for the
time being we need to utilise it and educate ourselves as well as those around
us in order to move forward, together into a future of diversity and equal
Written by Tanisha Douglas.
As part of our series on undergraduate research, Jack Mollart-Solity shares his experience of completing his final year History dissertation.
Hi, my name is Jack
Mollart-Solity, and I graduated from The University of Manchester with an
undergraduate degree in History. In my final year at university, I did a 12,000
word dissertation with my research focusing on Hungarian Refugees in Britain
following the failed Hungarian Revolution in 1956; however, it also explored
other immigrant and refugee groups who had come to Britain throughout the 20th
I chose to focus on
this topic for a number of reasons. Partly, the history of Hungarian Refugees
had been overlook by historians, so my research was part of uncovering their
experiences in Britain and how they adapted to their new surroundings. More
broadly though, I wanted to examine the factors that influence both governmental
and societal responses to refugees and immigrants, both positive and negative. I
believe this is important to investigate these issues as it is extremely
relevant to modern society as much political debate is focused on immigration,
and its benefits and drawbacks.
In order to
investigate these issues, I used a variety of sources. For much of my research,
I had to be in the National Archives in London. While there, I examined old
government files trying to find the reasons why the government chose to admit
Hungarian Refugees. As well as this, I looked through newspaper reports from
The Manchester Guardian and The Times between the years of 1955 to 1960; this
helped to show me what influenced the public’s response to the incoming
The most difficult
aspect of my project was trying to uncover how Hungarian Refugees themselves
felt about their experience in Britain: most sources completely overlooked the
opinions of Hungarians. However, I was able to build up a limited picture
through looking at government files and newspapers. Ideally, I would have liked
to have interviewed Hungarian refugees and their decedents but this did not
It was hard to draw
conclusions about the experience of Hungarian Refugees in Britain from the
limited evidence available, particularly as it is likely to be highly
individualised for each refugee. However, it appeared that many felt they had
been lied to in order to get them to come to Britain, and this cost them a
chance to go to America, a location which was for many their preferred
My findings suggested
that the government’s principle motivation to admitting Hungarian refugees was
both to win favour with and help their potential new ally Austria, the country
which the Hungarians had immediately escaped to, as well as filling vacancies
in Britain’s labour market.
Finally, the public’s
reaction was influenced by ideas of ethnicity; the white Hungarians received a
warmer welcome due to their perceived ethnic similarities with the British.
Equally, the refugees’ flight from communism enhanced their reputation in
I really enjoyed doing
my dissertation: it gave me a chance to research a topic I was particularly
interested in and gave me a lot of control over the work that I did.
For more information about
the History course at the University of Manchester, click here.
Click here for information from the
London School of Economics on why it is beneficial to study History.
The Guardian recently ran a feature about how to plan and write a dissertation.Search the National
Archives website for different documents you can look up: it is free to use the
Access to Archives:
search archives located near you.
Imagine life before a word was ever written down,
before the Romans marched to war and the Victorians marched on their
promenades, before cars, running water, electricity, telephones, and computers,
before the internet. People's lives were structured by the needs of the animals
that they kept and the crops they grew. Like today, they made friends, had
families, grew old and explained the world around them through their beliefs. Prehistoric
Archaeology, the study of people before they wrote their thoughts down, aims to
imagine what these lives were like.
My name is Ellon Souter and I am
a first year PhD student in Archaeology at the University of Manchester. I have
finished my Undergraduate and Masters degrees and am now doing my own research
on how people used stone tools thousands of years ago in Cyprus. I am studying
my PhD part-time, which means that I can work and earn money to support me in
my studies. I work as Widening Participation Fellow, which allows me to design
and run workshops in Archaeology for secondary students. I am also kept busy
round the Department, assisting with teaching, running the Postgraduate
Research Seminars and being involved with the Archaeology Society.
I grew up in Northern Scotland,
surrounded by castles, hillforts, museums and monuments. I felt that wherever I
went, I could see my past stretching back around me and I wanted more and more
to know that past. I chose to do an Archaeology BSc at the University of
Liverpool and then went on to a Masters at Cambridge. Over the years,
Archaeology has taken me on some fantastic adventures, working with human
skeletons in the basements of the British Museum, making prehistoric boats and
houses in northern Scotland, excavating castles in Latvia, caves in Wales, the
earliest houses in Cyprus and even had a go at Stonehenge!
The stone tools that I will be looking at for my PhD come
from two sites in the village of Kissonerga, southwest Cyprus. They are next to
each other and are thought to represent continuous occupation between
5500-1500B.C. The tools consist of beautifully polished axes, figurines and
games. However, the majority of items are equivalent to our kitchen utensils,
DIY equipment and other household tools (grinding, hammering stones). I believe
that these are the most interesting items to look at as they are integral to
everyday work hence inform us about daily life. I will be using a scientific
technique called X-Ray Fluorescence to find out where the stones were
collected. I hope that this will be useful in finding out how people moved
around their environments and communicated with each other. I will be figuring
out exactly how these stones were made and used by experimenting with working
stone and recording my observations. I will investigate whether these
technologies change through time, across the Island and between particular
activity areas within my case studies. I hope to show how important these
everyday items were and what they might have meant to the prehistoric
inhabitants of Cyprus.
When I tell people I’m an Archaeologist, they often ask
‘What’s the best thing you’ve ever found?’ They expect me to tell them about
gold and riches. To me, it is about that moment when you suddenly realise that
the patch in the dirt you’ve been staring at all day is a flue for a
prehistoric oven and our understanding of past technologies changes forever.
you are interested in finding out more about Archaeology, here are a few links:
University of Manchester Archaeology: Manchester Archaeology is a small friendly department. This
will give you an idea of what you could be studying if you came to Manchester.
UCAS: If you
are thinking seriously about going to University and studying Archaeology, this
site lists all Archaeology courses in the UK and will also give you information
(e.g. entry requirements, course details, etc).
Whitworth Park Community Archaeology: An excavation run by the University of Manchester in June
2013 that thrives on community involvement. If you are local, go along and
catch a glance into the past of your city.
YAC: The Young Archaeologists Club runs a range of
activities and operates in most areas of Britain.
Archaeology at the BBC: a collection of programmes dating back to the 1950s, available to watch in full.
Digging Up the Past
Have you ever wanted to discover ancient remains in a distant land? Do
you feel excitement when watching a team of archaeologists on TV reveal human
bones, bronze tools, gold jewellery and pottery? Are you riveted by the details
of how a Roman bathhouse worked or how an Iron Age roundhouse was built? If
your answer is yes, then archaeology might just be the thing for you.
What is archaeology?
Archaeology is the scientific study and interpretation of past peoples
and their lives through studying the material remains they left behind.
Archaeologists look at a wide range of artefacts from large buildings and
colourfully painted graves down to small clay pots, paintings, stone
arrowheads, bone fragments and even pollen and seeds.
The most common way to find past artefacts is by excavating, or by doing
a field survery where you collect remains that are visible on the surface. As
these activities destroy the precise locations and context of the artefacts,
archaeologists record, draw and photograph all information accurately for
future generations. All finds are then washed, analysed and interpreted.
Finally, the artefacts need to be preserved, possibly reconstructed and stored
– frequently in a nearby local museum. All of this work is rarely done by
archaeologists alone, but requires a team of specialists, such as geologists,
botanists, osteologists, computer specialists, and conservators. Once the
analysis has been completed, the findings are published in articles, books or
In order to get expertise in archaeology, an undergraduate degree is the
best way to go. Here at Manchester, we offer both single honours and joint
honours degrees (with Ancient History, Anthropology or History of Art). With
our teaching stretching from the Neanderthals through to modern day and our
research areas ranging from Europe, the Near East, Africa through to Australia,
the UK and the Pacific, we offer a truly global introduction to the discipline.
Our main focus at Manchester is on exploring the social dimension of the past
human experience. We offer a unique combination of theoretical enquiry, a
concern with the contemporary social context, and a commitment to practical
field work (You can watch a video of Manchester's archaeologists here
). In addition, we have strong links
to the archaeological sciences at the university and to the Manchester Museum
whose collections we are able to make use of in our teaching and whose staff
members regularly contribute specialist lectures.
Archaeology is one of the most varied careers as it draws on the
sciences, social sciences and arts. It is also one of the most diverse subjects
as it combines activity out in the field with intellectual study and scientific
analysis in the laboratory. Archaeologists can be found in the private, public
and academic sectors: You could find yourself working at the shovel’s edge in
charge of uncovering new sites and finds. Alternatively, you might be working
in a museum, designing exhibitions, talking to the public and looking after the
collections. Maybe you are employed by the council in charge of providing
guidance to developers. Or possibly you are working as a lecturer at university
and are undertaking your own research projects throughout the year. Depending on
your interests, you might find yourself working at home in Britain, on a hot
island in the Mediterranean, on a lone mountain in South America or the cold
expanses of Siberia. One thing is for sure: it’s a hugely rewarding career that
combines painstaking discovery with stimulating interpretations about past
Even if you don’t see yourself pursuing archaeology as a career, it is
an excellent foundation for your future that will serve you well in a wide
variety of interesting careers: studying archaeology alerts you to the great
diversity between people and social practices; it provides a rigorous training
in evaluating evidence and ideas; it encourages the development of creative and
critical thinking, verbal and written communication, and a wealth of practical
and team working skills that are sought after by employers. As a subject it is
challenging, intriguing, satisfying and hugely enjoyable.
The Archaeology of beer!
One recent project carried out by archaeologists
(with the help of archaeology students) at Manchester has been the excavation
of a Bronze Age beer production installation on Cyprus. A two by two metre
domed mud-plaster structure (shown in the picture) was used as a kiln to
dry malt for the production of beer three-and-a half-thousand years ago. The
beers were brewed from malted barley, and fermented with yeasts produced from
fruits such as grape or fig. All the ingredients have been found as carbonised
seeds at the site, along with stone tools for grinding the grains and pots for
heating the mixture.
Additional clues on beer production on Cyprus come
from large decorated pottery bowls like the one shown in the image. You can see
people grinding grain and a couple sitting relaxing drinking beer from bowls!
Find out more about archaeology…
To check out Archaeology at Manchester, go to the department's webpage.
The Council for British Archaeology supports archaeology across the UK and you can find out about the latest
finds, excavations and the Young Archaeologists’ Club from their website.
For up-to-date news about archaeology as well as articles about
different topics, go to: http://archaeology.about.com
A recent BBC series uses planes to detect archaeology. Find out more
with the ‘flying archaeologist’ blog.
BBC History has excellent website about archaeology (and some