I have to admit, I went to this talk because I low key want Akala to be my husband and wanted chance to see him provoke discussion in real life. Did not disappoint, but the star of the show was Peter Frankopan, Professor of Global History at Oxford . My likkle brain cells were in for a treat.
Following his book The Silk Roads, Professor Frankopan gave an overview of how the history curriculum in the UK has been majorly whitewashed and even fabricated to paint certain European histories in a certain light. How are we missing such contributive parts of history? From my understanding, The Silk Roads are pathways that connect the East to each other and are representative of different routes in history that I know I didn’t have any clue about ( I haven’t read the book…).
Once the hall had been given this summary of Silk Roads, Professor Frankopan then conversed with Akala about how this applies to our society now and how Brexit has influenced the way and context we view things. For example, people are often under the impression that ‘ethnic minorities’ are a drain on resource, but are unaware that immigrants from Jamaica and India (who were British colonies at the time) had to pay for themselves, unlike the Irish and Polis, to get into the UK. This was primary around the idea of what ‘Britishness’ is and what cultures could be moulded around this. This was seen in history with the greeks and romans, they didn’t come to the UK and decide to build pillar and statuesque models statues, this was adopted by us later on. Not gonna lie, this point of view didn’t even cross my mind.
We are so aware that the East offers some of the most richest economies in the world, and yet we still seem to think that we are globally indestructible. It’s all a bit of a madness lol.
I think I definitely came away from this lecture with a a more open minded view on things. Akala made it clear that in terms of the UK catering to multi ethnicities, we’re not bad, I mean we could be better, but we’re not the worst. I feel like I was ignorant to the contributions of other societies than my own because you become very accustomed to your surroundings. It was bought to light that Iran had a larger ratio of women to men in engineering and ‘Indian aunties in saris’ were able to build tech that was on par with NASA.
I’m not going to pretend like I am now an expert in the current and future mindsets of our country, but I defo felt a bit educated. Made a bit of a change from binging on Netflix. If you ever get an opportunity to go to talk or workshop that will help broaden your thinking, just do it!
Hosted in London, Professor Peter Frankopan – Global History at Oxford University, was joined by Rapper and Activist Akala to discuss the gaps in global history that we are taught in the UK. Frankopan’s book The Silk Roads highlights the importance of Eastern contributions and how today’s views of those contributions are overlooked.
With Britain often whitewashing their overview of history, European history is held at the forefront of the national curriculum which can uphold certain points in history over others. The Silk Roads outlines the importance of the Eastern network of travel and how this part of the world has contributed massively to global history. From fabrication to incorrect representation, it became apparent to me that so much of history is laced in ignorance and highlighted my own historical ignorance.
Following the summary of the book content and research, Professor Frankopan then conversed with Akala about how this ignorance still very much influences society today. From Brexit to opinions about the third world, our contextualisation of Britian is still headed with a European light. An example of this is the opinion that immigrants (note, that this type of migrant are called Expats when moving from a predominantly white country) are a drain on British resources, however, are unaware that the first generation of immigrants from Jamaica and India (who were British colonies at the time) had to fund themselves, unlike the Irish, to get into the UK. The Indian and Jamaican community were indeed contributing to the empire before their respective independences. A hypocrisy within itself.
This hypocrisy is highlighted in the conversation and outline that Greek and Roman architecture was adopted in the UK in order to uphold European ideals and reflections in history. It brings to light as to what ‘Britishness’ actually is if not a mix of chosen influences. This attitude is still mirrored in the financial world and how, as a society, we view global economy here in Britain. We are so aware that the East offers some of the richest economies in the world, and yet general consensus shows that we perceive them as inferior to the west.
After the concluding discussion, I felt more obliged to question how I had been taught history in school and how this influenced my opinion of Britain with respect to the world. I felt intrigued at how many societal viewpoints are shaped from how we are taught history. Akala outlined that when catering to ethnic monitories, Britain isn’t the most discriminatory in the world, however, there is much room for improvement – particularly in education and not upholding a one- sided curriculum. Outlining that Iran’s ratio of women to men in engineering was larger and that “Indian Aunties in sarees” are involved in the Indian technology space, on par with NASA, I for one now know that history lessons need to change.