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BHM2020 - Decolonising our History: Joseph Chamberlain, Birmingham and the British Empire

Tuesday 20th October 2020 (13:00-14:00)

Sammy Li

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Chamberlain made significant improvements to Birmingham as a notable mayor (1873-1876). This included proposing the establishment of the University of Birmingham, which was founded in 1900 on an anti-discrimination ethos of education for men and women from all religious backgrounds. Yet, Chamberlain emerged as an arch imperialist in his later political career as a Secretary of State for the Colonies. His policies brought conflicts and trade routes to overseas territories via the British Empire. Chamberlain once stated, "I believe that the British race is the greatest of the governing races that the world has ever seen... It is not enough to occupy great spaces of the world's surface unless you can make the best of them. It is the duty of a landlord to develop his estate." Such a colonial view from the Victorian era is unquestionably troubling when examined via today's prism. Whilst the best of Chamberlain's legacy may rest in Birmingham, his national role in British history is certainly much more complicated. We aim to bring together minds through this webinar for a well-rounded discussion to untangle the multi-faceted impact and legacy of Chamberlain. From his transformation of Birmingham to his darker side of the imperial past, we decolonise our history to enable individuals forming their own views on how Chamberlain is being remembered.

Open to Staff, Students, Alumni and the Community. Please register at:

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