Race, prostitution and cultural studies

Speaking at the University of Birmingham's Arts & Science Festival, in an event presented by Cadbury Research Library and Ikon, Dr Kieran Connell, Queen’s University Belfast, provided the historical context for the Ikon exhibition of photographs by American academic and documentary filmmaker Janet Mendelsohn.

The talk gave an insight into a unique archival discovery of 100 prints, 3,000 negatives and interviews now housed at the Cadbury Research Library. Most of Mendelsohn’s photographs were taken in Balsall Heath, a district of Birmingham once infamous as one of the country’s largest ‘red light’ districts as well as home to increasing numbers of immigrants from the Caribbean and South Asia. The talk explores what Mendelsohn’s archive tells us both about the innovative nature of cultural studies in this period and the everyday experiences of those who lived in inner-city areas like Balsall Heath in the late 1960s.