Election fever: culture and politics in 2024

The Exchange: 3 Centenary Square Birmingham B1 2DR
Event cost
Free, booking recommended
Saturday 22 June 2024 (09:45-15:00)
Artistic depiction of multiple hands holding up voting cards against a black background

This symposium brings together political commentators, service providers, artists and activists, to take the temperature of culture and politics in 2024.

What happens when all the world goes to the polls? What is included, and what gets excluded, in political arguments made for the Metro Mayor or the British Government? Are there any connections to make between day-to-day life in Birmingham, and wars, disputes, and politics that play out across the world?

Many people claim that politics is ‘downstream of culture’: is that culture shared? If so, what part of our culture? And if not, whose culture matters? 

This event is presented as part of the Stuart Hall Archive Project, a major multi-disciplinary research project that will expand public understanding and engagement with the work of the celebrated cultural theorist, Professor Stuart Hall. Read details of related events.


09:45 – 10:00 

Stuart Hall and Politics, Introduction from Dr Nick Beech, lead of the Stuart Hall Archive Project

10:00 – 11:30

The Politics of Education: A roundtable of discussants from higher and further education

What is education for? Who is education for? What has happened to higher and further education? And does education only happen in schools, colleges, and universities? Answers to these questions are often hidden behind the political headlines on funding, league tables, ‘standards’, ‘value for money’ and ‘choice’, as well as political anxieties around mass participation in education, ‘free speech’ and ‘wokeness’. The session will engage with these questions and consider possible futures, and will also consider higher and further education as a site for activism.

With Dharminder Singh Chuhan, Sandwell College UCU; Kirsten Forkert, Birmingham City University; Harjinder Kaur-Aujla, University of Birmingham UCU; Riannon Lockley, Birmingham City University and UCU West Midlands Regional Chair; Debra Benita Shaw, University of East London and Anti University.

11:30 – 11:45  


11:45 – 13:00 

Can British Politics Forward Anti-Racism? Presentations followed by open discussion 

Watching TV, listening to the radio, and following news on social media during the general election people can’t help wondering: ‘given there’s plenty of racism about – what happened to anti-racism?’ In this session, we will hear from Ranjit Sondhi on the history of anti-racism and British politics, and from Siobhan Harper-Nunes, the Green Party candidate for the West Midlands Mayoralty, providing insight from that campaign on racism, anti-racism and the local and general elections, opening a discussion on the future of anti-racism and the centrality of meaningful reparation.

Ranjit Sondhi, CBE, Birmingham Race Impact Group

Siobhan Harper-Nunes, Founder and CEO Shakti Women, Birmingham Race Impact Group

13:00 – 14:00


14:00 – 15:00

The Politics of Culture: A roundtable of discussants from artists and curators

One of Stuart Hall’s most important insights was that politics – real politics – happens, not in the world of government offices, but in everyday life. Hall also argued that new political problems (and answers) were presented not in political parties, but in arts and culture. For that reason, he fiercely defended funding and resourcing of the arts – particularly for oppressed and marginalized communities. This roundtable brings together artists and curators to discuss the conditions for making art and culture today.

With Regan McDonald (IKON Gallery); Amahra Spence (MAIA); Sym Mendez (MAIA) and others (TBC)