09-12-2014

The International Day for Reparations Related to “Civilisation”

Dr Nathaniel Adam Tobias Coleman

It is often said that ‘The West’ civilised ‘The Rest’ of the world. We deny this. Europe did not civilise the wider world, it colonised it. Indeed, before European competitive colonisation of our planet, peoples of the wider world had civilisations of their own. Yet, because Europe saw the existence of these civilisations as contrary to its colonial agenda, it defamed them as not civilised, it misrepresented them as chattel, and it colonised, and continues to neo-colonise, them.

For this reason, on a day celebrated by some as “Columbus Day”, by others as “The Day of the Race”, but by us as “The International Day for Reparations Related to Colonisation’, University College London, in collaboration with the African Reparations Transnational Community of Practice (ARTCoP), is responding to recent public discussion about how to repair European chattel, colonial, and neo-colonial enslavement of African peoples.

At this planning meeting, in Brixton, thirty three activists and academics will co-produce arguments that both enrich public discourse and empower African people. This planning meeting will occur on Sunday 12th October, in the newly-opened Grade II-listed building of theBlack Cultural Archives. This planning meeting is in preparation for a public meeting, in Tottenham, at which groups of young Diasporic African persons creatively and communicatively campaign on reparations, harnessing those very co-produced arguments, during the UK’s General Election.

The public meeting is generously supported by the UCL Public Engagement Unit, and the planning meeting is generously supported by the UCL European Institute and the UCL Centre for Research on the Dynamics of Civilisation (CREDOC).


At this planning meeting, in Brixton, thirty three activists and academics will co-produce arguments that both enrich public discourse and empower African people. This planning meeting will occur on Sunday 12th October (http://www.reparationsday.net/en/), in the newly-opened Grade II-listed building of the Black Cultural Archives (http://bcaheritage.org.uk). This planning meeting is in preparation for a public meeting, in Tottenham, at which groups of young Diasporic African persons creatively and communicatively campaign on reparations, harnessing those very co-produced arguments, during the UK’s General Election. The public meeting is generously supported by the UCL Public Engagement Unit (http://www.ucl.ac.uk/european-institute/research/grants/2013-14/reparation), and the planning meeting is generously supported by the UCL European Institute (http://www.ucl.ac.uk/public-engagement/casestudies/beaconbursaries/may2014/Coleman) and the UCL Centre for Research on the Dynamics of Civilisation (CREDOC).


Civilisation, Infrastructure and the City


A cross-disciplinary symposium at UCL, Friday November 7th Convened by UCL Anthropology and The Bartlett with generous support from the UCL Centre for Research into the Dynamics of Civilization (CREDOC)

Key facts

· A one day workshop at UCL, Friday, November 7th, 2014, 9:30-16:30

· Convenors: Frederik Weissenborn, (UCL Bartlett), ucftfwe@live.ucl.ac.uk & Kåre Poulsgaard (UCL Anthropology) ucsakpo@live.ucl.ac.uk

· 3000 word papers for pre-circulation by Monday, October 27th 2014

· Papers will be pre-circulated to speakers through a password-protected WordPress site

· Papers are considered to be ‘drafts’; it is the intention that they will be further developed following the workshop.

Urbanisation and digitisation seem set to become two of the most significant drivers of civilisational change in the 21st century. The early signs of this change are arguably already with us, but their importance and meaning are yet to be uncovered and understood. One of the most influential notions deployed in the discussion of digital urbanity has been Manuel Castells’ concept of ’spaces of flows’. The latter – as opposed to the so-called “spaces of place” – are characterized by a digitally mediated connectivity, and the more or less instant exchanges that this facilitates; often between geographically dispersed locales. There is little doubt that the notion of the spaces of flows has been a highly productive concept, yet it arguably fails to capture the role of locality, culture and everyday practice in the constitution of urban events. While technologically mediated connectivity is certainly an important factor in the production of the experience of the city, it seems beyond doubt that this experience must still be reflected in a set of deep, cultural practices and cultural mores. It is therefore problematic to suggest – as Castells does – that spaces of flows “subdue “and “isolate” local cultural practices in the production of place. Material engagement – the productive meeting of social fact and artefact – does not unfold in a cultural vacuum.

This one-day symposium aims to identify, discuss and mobilise some of the most pressing civilisational questions emerging and converging in the 21st century city. In doing so, it will challenge the analytical opposition between an abstract global space and its local counterpoint, inviting scholars to once again reflect upon the concepts of space and place. Whilst it will focus on the role of technological infrastructures in the establishment and perpetuation of place, it will also seek to expose the role of deep cultural practices and social mores involved in its production. The symposium will explore three main areas of enquiry. Accordingly, there will be i) a session enquiring into the material production of community and “place” in a digitally mediated reality; ii) a session enquiring into the role of connectivity and the production of wealth in late capitalism; and iii) a session enquiring into the role of information and communication technologies in development (ICT for Development).

This article was first published on the main UCL website on 12th October 2014

Share page >