On 7th July 2015 MMU Cheshire hosted a conference on the theme of ‘Contested Spaces: Shared Places’. The conference, organised by the ‘Communities: people, place and practice’ research group, showcased research from across all the departments of MMU Cheshire. This included a varied selection of presentations around race and ethnicity in different contexts: Matt Carter outline his research into the contested cultural geography of the American borderlands where the different and separate categories of US and Mexican, White and Non-White, English speaking and Spanish speaking are explored in literature and film. Jennie Bailey talked about her PhD research on depictions of race in the literature of Rochdale focusing on representations of Irish workers in the late nineteenth century and on the lived experience of being a young British Asian in the late 1970s through John Siddique’s sequence poem ‘The Knife’. Geraldine Lee-Treweek and Stephen French discussed their longitudinal research into the experiences of migrants from EU access countries and their difficulties in participating in UK society due, in part, to facing racism and abuse on the streets and in workplaces.
The conference keynote speaker was Professor Saloshna Vandeyar from the University of Pretoria who talked about the challenges and rewards of her life as an academic in the post-apartheid landscape of South Africa. Dorcas Akeju, OBE also talked about her on-going action research into Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the UK and intervention practices. The recent publication of a special edition of Power and Education (7) 2 on race and ethnicity jointly edited by Julia Bennett, Geraldine Lee-Treweek and Saloshna Vandeyar inspired the theme of the conference.
The conference was well attended by staff and students from across MMU as well as partners working with MMU Cheshire in the local community.