Forthcoming Events

Stuart Hall Readings

Wednesday 22, November 2-4pm: Les Back on Listening to Stuart Hall 

Muirhead Tower, Room 417  , University of Birmingham

In 2007 Les Back visited Stuart Hall at his north London home to talk about his writing and work on race. That long recorded conversation included reflection on his time in Birmingham and his role in the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies to his thought on what came to be referred to as a the Migrant crisis. The conversation was published in 2009. In it Les Back acknowledged the limitations of mere transcription of Stuart Halls unique voice to the page: What is hard to represent is how much laughter that conversation contained. Sometimes it was simply a joyous way of punctuating thought, at other moments the mirth was sardonic and satirical. I hope the conviviality of Stuarts style of listening and talking is not muted in the transposition of his words to the page. Through edited highlights from original recording Les Back will invite us to listen with him to Stuarts voice and reflect on the lasting relevance of his thinking.   

Les Back Les Back is Professor of Sociology at the University of Glasgow. He has researched and written on urban culture, ethnicity, migration, cultural politics, music, and higher education.   

Stuart Hall Archive Project & IRiS Readings Seminar, 2023/24 

  And I realized that almost everything I write is a kind of political interventiontrying to shift the terms of the debate, intervene on one side or another, clarify something, wipe some other distorting views out of place so that something else can come throughSo they are interventions in a field, rather than autonomous scholarly works. And the other thing I know about it is that I am interested in the conjuncture. I am a sort of writer about the history of the present, but also I think the past is understood in that way too. 

At Home and Not at Home: Stuart Hall in conversation with Les Back (2008). 

 The Stuart Hall Archive Project has two aims: to forge a new space for dialogue between Halls intellectual and political legacy and contemporary questions arising from present constituencies and communities; and to explore the history of Halls intellectual and political formation and development at specific conjunctures. 

Halls papers at the Cadbury Research Library are a substantial and unique resource representing over fifty years of sustained public intellectual activity. The archive is only partly sorted, and our first objective is to identify a basic, provisional shape, as given by the major conjunctures of Halls life. We are not without a guide. 

Our first seminar series is an invitation to consider those published textsessays, interviews, memoirin which Hall reflected on his own social, cultural and political formation; on the trajectories, conjunctures and articulations to which he attended and which he intervened in. Further, we have invited those interlocutorsformer students, comrades, sisters and brotherswith whom Hall was in dialogue or debate, enabling him to shift the terms, intervene, and clarify, to speak to these texts, their relationship to Stuart Hall, and the legacy of his work on theirs and beyond. 


Seminar - Conversations with IRiS on Migration, Citizenship & Coloniality 

16 November, 3.30-5 pm: Migration Governance in 'Crisis' 

Alan Walters, Room G11, University of Birmingham

Professor Andrew Geddes (Director of Migration Policy Centre, EU) in conversation with Professor Michaela Benson (Lancaster University) and Professor Nando Sigona (University of Birmingham)

 The seminar is free and open to the public. 

Please email to reserve a place. 


Seminar/talk - Freedom Without Exclusions: Land, Labour, and Liberty for All

4th December 2023, 4-6 PM


This event is hybrid. It will be held online and in person.

Online location: Zoom

In-person location: G.10, LR, 43 Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1UU

Please register here to receive the Zoom link and other information.

Featuring Sam Okyere (University of Bristol); Raphael Godlove Ahenu Jr (Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Global Media Foundation - GLOMEF); Alf Nilsen (University of Pretoria); Nandita Sharma (University of Hawai’I at Manoa); Vicky Hattam (The New School for Social Research)

 More about the event

Discussant: Vicky Hattam

The ERC funded project, ‘Modern Marronage? The Pursuit and Practice of Freedom in the Contemporary World’ (MMPPF), draws on histories of Atlantic World slavery to explore the ambiguities of freedom as an ideal and a lived experience today. This event emerges from one of its studies, which focused on contested visions of slavery and freedom in contemporary Ghana.

US- and British-based antislavery campaigners have paid much attention to ‘modern slavery’ in Ghana over the past decade, especially ‘child slavery’ in the fishing industry and artisanal mining, and promoted interventions to ‘rescue’ child workers. Yet for many members of the communities affected, the problem is not that they are enslaved, but rather that they have been dispossessed of subsistence land as a result of recent land grabs by multinational corporations and other companies.

At this event, Sam Okyere and Raphael Godlove Ahenu Jr will speak about contestations over land, labour and liberty in Ghana, and the ways in which different ideas about slavery, freedom, and political community are mobilised, both in different sorts of claims to social, economic, and political resources, and in efforts to legitimate or delegitimate them.

Contributions from Nandita Sharma and Alf Nilsen alert us to the exclusionary logic that underpins the idea of autochthonous links to territory and how this can also be reflected in certain claims to indigeneity. This raises important questions about what it would mean to imagine freedom otherwise - without territory, labour exploitation, and the exclusion, even unfreedom, of those made as "outsiders." That is, how we might locate both a material and ethical grounding for genuine emancipation for every being on our one and only planet.


This event is jointly organised by:

ERC-funded project, Modern Marronage, the Pursuit and Practice and Pursuit of Freedom in the Contemporary World

University of Bristol Specialist Research Centre, Migration Mobilities Bristol

British Sociological Association Study Group, Slavery and Modern Slavery


Please contact us at for any questions or concerns.


Past Events

TALK: Conversations with IRiS on Migration, Citizenship & Coloniality

24 October 2023 (3.30-5pm)
Thinking decoloniality through an intersectional lens
Gisbert Kapp, Room 224 , University of Birmingham

Professor Avtar Brah (Birkbeck College, University of London) in conversation with Dr Nirmal Puwar (Goldsmiths University) and Dr Angelo Martins Jr (University of Birmingham)

The talk will address the concepts and practices of coloniality, post-coloniality and decoloniality, exploring the similarity and differences between them. It will examine the ways in which the figure of the ‘migrant’ has become demonised in both popular and political discourse. Questions of ethnicity, nationalism, national identity, and belonging are central to thinking about borders and will be discussed in some detail as will be the problematic of how diasporas are created, mobilised, and politicised.

  • Avtar Brah is Professor Emerita in Sociology at Birkbeck College, University of London. She has written widely on questions of race, ethnicity, gender, class, and generation. Her most recent book is titled ‘ Decolonial Imaginings/ Intersectional Conversations and Contestations’. It was published in 2022 by Goldsmiths Press.
  • Nirmal Puwar is a Reader in Sociology at Goldsmiths University. She is currently a British Academy Innovation Fellow, for ‘Multicultural Experiments in the Civic Life of a Cathedral’. She has published Space Invaders: Race, Gender and Bodies Out of Place (2004). Live Methods, is one of eighteen collections she has co-edited. She is currently writing a book on One Mile Walk: decompositions and recompositions, to be published by Punctum Press.
  • Angelo Martins Jr is Assistant Professor in Sociology at the University of Birmingham. He undertakes ethnographic research in the areas of difference, intersectionality, social inequalities and decolonial sociological approaches to contribute to debates on Migration, as well as on ‘Modern Slavery’. He is the author of Lives in motion (2014), and Moving difference: Brazilians in London (Routledge, 2020).

The seminar is free and open to the public.  Please email the organisers to reserve a place.


Online Roundtable and Launch

Join us for the online launch of the British Sociological Association’s Slavery and Modern Slavery group. No membership is required. All are welcome.

There are two very different conversations about slavery now, one on “modern slavery” that antislavery campaigners and NGOs largely drive, the other on the “afterlives of slavery” driven by activists and scholars who think critically about race and colonialism. This study group is interested in both conversations and the connections between them. The launch event brings together a panel of researchers whose work highlights problems with the discourse of “modern slavery” in several different contexts.

Online Roundtable and Launch
18 April 2023 (2-3.30pm)
Chair: Julia O’Connell Davidson


  • Angelo Martins Junior on Sub-Saharan African migrants
  • Insa Koch on county lines in the UK
  • Pankhuri Agarwal on bonded labour in India
  • Samuel Okyere on working children in Ghana
  • Sharmila Parmanand on sex work in the Philippines

Supported by: The British Sociological Association & ERC-funded Modern Marronage project