The power of history – OurWarwick

The power of history

One of the best things about going to Warwick is that because it’s slap-bang in the middle of England and Wales, you’re equidistant from a lot of places in the country. This means you’re about 2 hours drive from most places – including London – which was handy when I visited the city this month on a field trip with my course.

I took a module this year called ‘Slavery, Memory and Memorialisation’ looking at the impacts of slavery and how we’ve remembered the trade since.

Our tutor for the module, Dr David Lambert, took us to two museums in London to see how different exhibitions have attempted to represent the trans-atantic slave trade and its legacies.

London Docklands

We first visited the Museum for London Docklands and then we went over to the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. It was really interesting to consider the different ways of representing this tragic chapter in our nation’s history while also trying to make it accessible to the general public. There is a fine line to be walked between making an exhibition that speaks to the average museum goer, without losing any of the depth and tragedy of the content. Some parts of the museums did this better than others.

The displays focussing on legacies were of particular interest to me. It always amazes me how powerful history is in shaping identity and culture. The ability of events and experiences to shape a people, even hundreds of years later, is something to marvel at. I have friends who feel a profound connection to these events despite never having experienced them themselves. History, and particularly traumatic history, can span generations and influence contemporary culture in ways we might never perceive – yet it is there.

My course has taught me to engage academically with difficult subjects like this but not at the expense of empathy.

This is why I love history so much, I don’t think any other subject is able to explore these kinds of complex ideas while treating them with the dignity and genuine respect they deserve.

If it wasn’t already obvious, I highly recommend this third year module!


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