Shahmima Akhtar
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Racism, redistribution, redress
The Royal Historical Society and Race, Ethnicity & Equality in UK History: A Report and Resource for Change
in British culture after empire
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Using the findings of the Royal Historical Society’s Race, Ethnicity & Equality in UK History: A Report and Resource for Change, published in 2018, this chapter considers how anti-racist action has been undertaken in history higher education in the UK. The report found that undergraduate-level history was overwhelmingly white in terms of students, that the numbers were even lower when it came to postgraduate-level history and that ‘history academic staff are less diverse than H&PS student cohorts’. Taking stock of these findings, many history departments across UK universities reviewed, strengthened or created anew their equality, diversity and inclusivity agendas. Ranging from efforts to diversify curriculum content to improving mechanisms to report racial abuse, this chapter will reflect on the effectiveness of these proposals. As the postdoctoral fellow funded by the Past and Present Society to embed the impact of the Race Report, the author offers a critical perspective on how the race equality work so clearly envisioned in the report not only mirrors but is reinforced by the equality work taking place in wider Britain. The museum and heritage sector, those working with schools and the curriculum and those producing history for the public are working in a mutually constitutive set of structures to engender anti-racist action and behaviour. By tracing the intellectual development of the RHS’s equalities work as it ties to the anti-racist work we can see in Britain more broadly, the chapter reflects on the extent to which meaningful change can occur in history higher education.

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