ISSUES that range from racism and child sexual grooming to integrated education in Ulster and the marginalisation of Romanies in British culture are explored in the first edition of a new journal published by University of Huddersfield Press. Historians, political researchers and social scientists are among its contributors and editorial advisors, and the publication is a product of the University's Academy for British and Irish Studies. But Identity Papers aims to set as few boundaries as possible.
The editorial co-ordinator of the on-line, open-access journal is Research Fellow Dr Jodie Matthews. In her introduction to the first edition, she writes that Identity Papers "seeks a wide and cross-disciplinary audience from inside and outside the university sector, and draws on robust research to communicate ideas connected with identities in Britain and Ireland, today and in the past, in a readable way".
Dr Matthews adds that Identity Papers aims for "accessibility with rigour" and that contributors are urged to write with a diverse readership in mind.
"We anticipate publishing work about histories, politics, cultures, literatures, identities, minoritisation, extremism, racism, communities, citizenship, nationalities, regions, the post/colonial, diaspora, territories and more," she says.
An official launch event for Identity Papers was opened by the University of Huddersfield's Head of History, English, Languages and Media, Professor Paul Ward. He is a leading authority on Britishness and a founder of the Academy for British and Irish Studies, which he described as "one of the most successful research centres at the University in terms of inter-disciplinarity". It had members from four of the University's academic schools and they had published extensively.
Issue One of Identity Papers has six articles, principally by University of Huddersfield-based researchers. Most of the authors were present at the journal's official launch event, where they gave short presentations.
- Dr Shamim Miah's The Groomers and the Question of Race argues that while the issue of race is not raised in connection with high profile police investigations of child sexual abuse such as Operation Yewtree, it has become central to public debate relating to grooming cases by men of Pakistani heritage. Far-Right rhetoric has therefore taken centre-ground, according to Dr Miah.
- Dr Amir Saeed's Racism and Islamophobia: A Personal Perspective traces his parents' journey from India and Pakistan to Britain and calls for academic research on British Muslim identity.
- Dr Shaun McDaid's From shared schools to shared space: integrated education initiatives in Northern Ireland in comparative perspective examines the history of schools in Northern Ireland in which children from both the Catholic/nationalist and Protestant/unionist communities are educated together in the same classroom. There has been a recent drift away from this model, writes Dr McDaid.
- In The co-production of historical knowledge: implications for the history of identities, Elizabeth Pente, Professor Paul Ward, Milton Brown, and Hardeep Sahota argue for a blurring of the boundaries between university and communities in exploring modern British history, and especially the history of national identities. The article includes a brief photographic essay of projects related to exploring identities.
- Professor Paul Thomas, Joel Busher, Graham Macklin, Michelle Rogerson, Kris Christmann contribute Understanding Concerns about Community Relations, reporting research into such community attitudes and dispositions in two areas of West Yorkshire. Key findings indicate that whilst there is very little support for groups such as the English Defence League, their themes have significant resonance within wider white communities.
- In Where are the Romanies? An Absent Presence in Narratives of Britishness, Jodie Matthews explores the exclusion of British Romani experience in narratives of historical Britishness, an action that resounds in contemporary politics and identities, she argues.
Identity Papers has an 18-strong editorial board of experts based at universities in the UK and around the world, in countries that include Australia, the USA, France and Slovakia. One of them is Dr Daniel Travers, of Laurentian University in Canada. He studied for his PhD at the University of Huddersfield - supervised by Professor Ward - and he closed the launch event for the new journal with a paper that described his continuing research into experiences of WWII prisoners of war and internees in the Orkneys and the Isle of Man, plus the lives of Channel Islanders under Nazi occupation.