Full programme unveiled for the British Academy Summer Showcase 2023

3 May 2023

The British Academy, the UK’s national academy for the humanities and social sciences, has today revealed the full programme of events for its annual Summer Showcase – a free festival that brings together leading lights from across the SHAPE disciplines (Social Sciences, Humanities and the Arts for People and the Economy) and big names from the cultural sphere.

On Saturday 17 June (11am – 5pm) the British Academy will throw open its doors at 10-11 Carlton House Terrace in central London to host a jam-packed programme of pop-up talks, performances, film screenings, panel discussions and workshops in the building and adjoining garden. For the first time, the Academy will also be working with the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) on a series of film screenings.

Offering the chance to hear directly from academics at the forefront of new research in the SHAPE subjects, the events will be a mix of in-person and online.

Programme highlights include: 

  • The Legacy of Windrush: In June 1948 the SS Empire Windrush docked in Tilbury, bringing hundreds of young people from the Caribbean. Lisa Anderson, Managing Director of Black Cultural Archives, will chair a discussion with journalist Onyekachi Wambu and British Academy-funded researcher Eleni Liarou to examine the significance of the 75th anniversary and reflect on how Windrush has been understood and discussed
  • The UK première of (Dis)Appear, a documentary about the 1976-1983 military dictatorship in Argentina during which around 30,000 people were killed or disappeared. The première, at The ICA, will include a post-screening Q&A with its director, British Academy-funded researcher Piotr Cieplak, whose research led to the film
  • An exclusive chance to be the first to view artwork recently acquired by the British Academy by award-winning artists Emma Stibbon RA and Yinka Shonibare CBE. Tabular Berg (2022) by Emma Stibbon depicts environments undergoing transformation including the polar regions, volcanoes and deserts, while Yinka Shonibare’s work Modern Magic (in Pink) 2022 is a striking print with textile fragments which confronts the problem of primitivism in modern art
  • Democratising space: Opening up a Grade I listed building: Manijeh Verghese (Architectural Association), Maeve Lock (Wright & Wright Architects) discuss the challenge of transforming the Academy’s Grade I-listed building into a state-of-the-art events space; what it means to democratise heritage buildings in central London; and the role of the architect as a communicator in changing our relationship with such spaces
  • 'Respect Me, Respect My Name: Names, Identities and Why it Matters to Say People’s Names Correctly’: British Academy-funded researcher Jane Pilcher (Nottingham Trent University) will lead an interactive workshop to help us understand the significance of names for people’s identities
  • Building Bridges Across Political Divides: Take part in live research and gain insight into how our political allegiances influence how we view and feel about people with opposing views
  • Untold Narratives of World War II: Join Historian Diya Gupta, filmmaker Steve Hatton, author Luke Turner and British Academy-funded researcher Ellen Pilsworth as they explore untold narratives of the Second World War, from the former Prisoner of War who became an LGBT+ activist, to Indians in service during the war
  • Women who shaped the world (and why you’ve probably never heard of them): Women in the early nineteenth century allegedly could not participate in scientific exploration or the discovery of new natural history. Yet multiple specialist contributions provide extensive counter evidence. Mary Orr, British Academy-funded academic, and Rebecca Preston, a historian with English Heritage’s London Blue Plaques Scheme, will be joined by other panellists to celebrate women from SHAPE disciplines who have been overlooked throughout history

Visitors will have the chance to see parts of the British Academy’s London home, a historic, Grade I-listed building – designed by Georgian architect John Nash – which overlooks the Mall and St James's Park and is often used as a set for films and TV shows, from Cruella and No Time to Die to The Crown and Sherlock.

Attendees can also view the Academy’s impressive collection of traditional and contemporary British art, featuring over 100 works from paintings and textiles to ceramics and sculpture by artists including Barbara Hepworth, Paula Rego and Terry Frost. There will also be an opportunity to learn more about a major active construction project transforming the building’s lower floors into a double-height, state-of-the-art events space.

The Summer Showcase takes place on Saturday 17 June 2023. All live events will be free to attend and selected events will remain accessible on the British Academy’s YouTube channel after the Showcase. Booking is recommended.

Professor Julia Black, President of the British Academy, said:

“We are truly excited to welcome people back to the British Academy for our Summer Showcase, which since launching in 2018 has gone from strength to strength. Sharing some of the most fascinating and dynamic insights and discoveries the SHAPE disciplines have to offer is without a doubt one of the highlights of our year. This year we’ll be hosting a huge variety of in-person and online events spanning subjects that will appeal to anyone curious about the world we live in, about peoples, societies and cultures past, present and future.”

Nicolas Raffin, Managing Curator (Cinema) at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), said:

"It is a real pleasure to partner with the British Academy on the premiere of Piotr Cieplak’s enduring, necessary work addressing the vivid memory of the Argentine dictatorship to this day. As a non-fiction work delivering a strong political discourse and formally experimenting with the cinematic language, (Dis)Appear very much finds its place within the wider ICA Cinema programme.

"As a neighbouring institution, the ICA is delighted to take part in this year’s ever-relevant British Academy Summer Showcase, thereby celebrating dialogue across institutions as a way forward, and paving the way for future co-presentations of events responding to both institutions’ audiences.”


‘Weaving Knowledge’ (75 minutes)

A collaboration between Karen Wells (Birkbeck), Peace Tetteh at University of Ghana, Erdmute Alber at University of Bayreuth, and project partners Afrikids, Pan Togo, and West Africa Research Centre. Fieldwork was conducted by Fatou Kine Diouf.

Shot in villages in rural Northern Ghana, Maritime Togo and Central Senegal, the film depicts children making textiles and weaving, transforming matter, playing games and making toys.

‘How Has Solar Building Impacted Villagers in India?’ (11 minutes)

Carol Maddock – Science & Engineering, Swansea University

Renewable energy (RE) transitions are critical for mitigating climate change and India is a key player – but we do not know if RE transition is equitably beneficial, particularly for those reliant on fossil fuels in everyday existence. This film was produced in Khuded (Maharashtra) to reflect changes that are most important to villagers individually and as a community.

‘Should we Create Gene Drive Grey Squirrels?’ (18 minutes)

Sarah Hartley – Technology Governance, University of Exeter

Gene drive governance focuses on the decisions that shape how controversial gene drive technology is funded, developed, regulated, and possibly tested and deployed. This short film uses the case study of gene drive squirrels to kickstart a debate on the broader development of genome editing in wildlife.

‘Art and Gender in South Sudan’ (5 minutes)

Tamsin Bradley and Dr Louis Netter – International Development Studies, University of Portsmouth

Exploring the research findings on violence against women, gender, and artistic practices in South Sudan through animation.

‘Machar Pichar’ (‘Our Cinema’) (10 minutes)

Alice Tilche – Lecturer in Anthropology and Museum Studies, University of Leicester

This community-led project aims to understand the visualisation of the COVID-19 pandemic among India’s most marginalised indigenous communities, an outcome of a British Academy-funded grant titled ‘Disturbing Images’.

‘When the Dust Settles’ (30 minutes)

Maria Abranches – Social Anthropology and International Development, University of East Anglia (co-produced with participant refugee families in Manchester and Glasgow, Amy Lythgoe, Ayoola Jolayemi and Nihaya Jaber)

Understand the lived experience of refugee families, one or more years after the arrival of relatives through the process of family reunion in the UK. Increasing knowledge in this area will have a direct impact on the work of organisations such as project partner Together Now.

'Delhi 2.5' (16 minutes)

Pawas Bisht – Media, Communications and Creative Practice, Keele University

Made in collaboration with local filmmakers and advocacy groups who seek to address the catastrophic challenge of urban air pollution confronting India, with a particular focus on New Delhi, the world’s most polluted city.

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