The Centre for Memory, Narrative and Histories (CMNH) exists to focus, stimulate and develop research and knowledge exchange at the University of Brighton concerned with the cultural significance of the past for our lived experience, social relationships, politics and identities in the present and future. Emphasising the plural ‘histories’, the Centre’s work explores the relations between powerful or official narratives about the past and those which give expression to subordinate, marginalised and neglected historical experience.

CMNH promotes critical investigation of the theoretical, methodological and political issues involved in making histories, in representing “the past”, and in producing forms of remembrance and commemoration. Our research investigates the practices that produce and circulate knowledges and understandings of “the past”, including: Archives and Histories; Community History; Cultural Memory; Cultural, Social and Political History; Oral History and Life History; Popular History-making; Public History and Heritage; Testimony, Life Writing and Narrative.

Trans/interdisciplinary in approach, the Centre draws upon and develops scholarship in and across history, cultural studies, literature, memory studies, social anthropology, cultural geography, art, media and visual studies, performance studies, cultural and critical theory, politics, sociology, psycho-social studies, critical heritage studies, and narratology. It also facilitates engagement between academic scholarship and the work of local, community and public historians; archivists, curators and heritage-sector professionals; creative artists, writers, dramatists and film-makers; teachers and other educationalists; social and political activists; and members of particular communities.

Fostering a participatory, collaborative and egalitarian ethos in education and the production of knowledge, CMNH is committed to developing historical research that challenges social inequalities, oppressions and injustices, interrogates received meanings of the past, and produces alternative accounts that help to generate fresh thinking about possible futures. We warmly welcome and invite communication from anyone, inside or outside the University of Brighton, who shares our ethos and interests and would like to study or work with us or participate in our research events and activities.


CMNH’s commitment to anti-racism

Graffitied wall includes large impact letters BLM and Black Lives Matter in black on white over a rainbow background. In the context of the Black Lives Matter movement, the Centre for Memory, Narrative and Histories affirms its commitment to developing historical research that challenges racial and other social inequalities, oppressions and injustices; interrogates dominant racist and other ideological meanings of the past; and produces alternative histories and memories to generate fresh thinking about transformed futures. This commitment requires unremitting dedication to anti-racist work aimed at achieving a fully participatory and egalitarian ethos in all aspects of education and the production of knowledge.

As one contribution to this end, CMNH supports the following Joint Statement of Intent for the Heritage Sector, issued by leading organisations in the UK museums, galleries, heritage and archives sector, to identify and actively confront racism in all aspects of the sector’s work:

“The Black Lives Matter movement began in America after a series of killings of black people in or following police custody. The movement has resonance in the UK, not least because of our nation’s history in which racism has become entrenched.

“As the leading membership bodies representing the UK museums, galleries, heritage and archives we take responsibility for ending racism in the heritage sector. This work is overdue. This work is non-negotiable. It cuts across all aspects of our sector, from the collections we curate and preserve, the people who make up the heritage workforce, to the learning programmes we deliver. The conversation and the action is ongoing.

“We commit to pro-actively support:

representing our members across the heritage sector, acknowledging that our nation’s history and heritage is an invaluable tool in the fight against racism and discrimination.

  • anti-discrimination debate and discussion in the care of and access to heritage collections.
  • seeking, and taking care of the needs of a diverse heritage workforce.
  • members to develop diverse collections.
  • asking questions and challenging practices that support racism in all of its forms.
  • that now is the time to be anti-racist.
  • doing the work involved to end discrimination here and now.

“Signees: The Group for Education in Museums (GEM), The Association of Independent Museums (AIM), The International Council of Museums UK (ICOM UK), The Museums Association, The Heritage Alliance, Engage, The Archives and Records Association (UK and Ireland), and The Association for Heritage Interpretation.”

For CMNH’s current engagements in anti-racist and anti-colonialist research, see the research area Reparative Histories: Empire, ‘Race’ and Anticolonialism.

For an introduction to the wider culture of anti-racist education and critique at the University of Brighton, see the journal Decolonising the Curriculum: Teaching and Learning about Race Equality