While seeing the history of the Asian Youth Movements and the Bradford 12 represented in the space of the National Media Museum was uplifting, contextualizing it within the constraints of the museum’s labelling system was a challenge. When your history has been marginalized and misunderstood, explaining the complexities of its meaning is not necessarily possible in 120-word panels or 40-word labels. There are no shortcuts to explaining what has been misrepresented.
The multiple meanings of the past were also brought to the fore. Amongst former members of the AYMs, there were differences in opinion about how the past should be presented in the exhibition. Some individuals wanted to present a story of increasing integration with Marsha Singh, a former member of Bradford AYM becoming an MP. Others argued that the focus should be on the legacy of the movement’s politics to embrace the slogans of the movement: ‘Black people have the right, here to stay here to fight’ and ‘Self defence is no offence’. Communities, like nations are not coherent – there are dynamics of power and political positions which constantly ‘unsettle’. This unsettling should be a central part of any heritage practice – and must be accompanied by an unsettling of institutional processes and standards.
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Anandi Ramamurthy's bio
I am a Professor of Media and Culture at Sheffield Hallam University. My research has been focused on analysing racism and its representations as well as archiving and narrating people’s histories of resistance. I am the author of Imperial Persuaders: Images of Africa and Asia in British Advertising (MUP, 2003) and Black Star: Britain’s Asian Youth Movements (Pluto Press 2013). I am also the founder of a digital archive on the Asian Youth Movements. I played a key role in developing the AYM story and installation that featured in the exhibition Above the Noise: Fifteen Stories from Bradford (NSMM, 2019).
I have been involved with a variety of anti-racist and anti-imperialist campaigns in the north of England. I help run Cinema Palestino in Manchester and Sheffield. I’m currently leading the AHRC Urgent Covid 19 research project, Nursing Narratives: Racism and the Pandemic.