SHA 2013: From Kampala to Leicester

The Call for Papers for the SHA conference in 2013 closed on 10th July, and the Program Committee is now busily reviewing all of the abstract submissions, before putting together the conference program, which will be announced later in the year.

In the meantime, and happily coinciding with the conference theme of Globalization, Immigration, Transformation, blog followers who find themselves in Leicester at some point over the summer might like to visit the city’s New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, which is hosting a new exhibition, celebrating the 40-year history of Leicester’s Ugandan Asian community.

From Kampala to Leicester: The Story of Leicester’s Ugandan Asian Community, 1972 – 2012 marks the 40th anniversary of the expulsion of the South Asian community from the former British protectorate, which had won independence in 1962. Many South Asians lived in Sub-Saharan Africa, brought there from British India by the Imperial service during the late 19th and early 20th centuries to undertake clerical work and manual labour. In August 1972, the then-President of Uganda Idi Amin ordered the expulsion of the country’s South Asian community, exploiting existing fears and perceived concerns about the South Asian minority in Uganda.

About 60,000 South Asians were given 90 days in which to leave the country. As a former British colony, many Ugandan Asians held British passports; 27,000 arrived in the UK, despite warnings in the media and from right-wing politicians that there were few opportunities for migrants. Leicester City Council even advertised the lack of opportunities in the city in Ugandan newspapers, hoping to dissuade potential arrivals, but the city’s approach changed once very traumatised refugees began to arrive, and local charitable groups rallied round to provide accommodation and support.

Ugandan Asians arriving in the UK in 1972

The new exhibition profiles how the 10,000 Ugandan Asians who arrived in Leicester adapted to life in the UK, and the developing role of the community in the cultural life of the city over the last four decades. The exhibition runs until 30th September 2012, and has a full programme of accompanying events, including lectures, dance workshops and film screenings.

This film, which features interviews with some of Leicester’s Ugandan Asian community, has been produced by the East Midlands Oral History Archive as part of their Migration Stories project.

Image: Maz Mashru

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About Emma Dwyer

Emma is currently a postgraduate research student at Leicester University's Centre for Historical Archaeology, having previously worked for commercial archaeology units and museums across the UK. She is the social media liaison for the SHA 2013 conference in Leicester, and treasurer of the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology, which she encourages you all to join: http://www.spma.org.uk/
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    Hi Emma Dwyer, I also agree that there were few opportunities for migrants. Leicester City Council even advertised the lack of opportunities in the city in Ugandan newspapers,Looking forward for more great blogs.