The very purpose of the network is to shed light on reluctant sites of memory and this network reaches beyond academia to work with communities to explore connections between Afro-descents, the history of involvement in the transatlantic slavery, Black presence in South-East England and South Wales and colonial legacies. The key groups upon which this network impact are: communities of African descent; heritage and cultural sites and their visitors; and professional practitioners.
Partnering with SEWREC provides the network with strong links to schools, local agencies and community groups to participate in the workshops. Castejon & Al (2014), drawing on the work of historians Nora and Agulhon, showed how declaring, even narrating one’s story instead of having one’s story told by another empowers individuals and communities. Through the workshops the network intends to empower those directly participating to share their stories and to reflect upon, and challenge, the ways in which the history of people of African descent are represented in Western Europe.
The network does not only impact upon the perception of the history of people of African descent by those groups themselves but also by other broader groups. By working with heritage and cultural sites such as Fairfield House, which is of interest to a variety of individuals and communities including those drawn in by an interest in Ethiopia’s role in the advent of World War 2 or by the Tafari Art Gallery, which is based at Fairfield House, the network’s findings and outputs also contribute to the way that they present this history to their wider constituency of visitors.
The network and its findings can be used to further the understanding of reluctant sites of memory and the history of people of African descent in the UK, including through the use of international collaboration and comparison. Through involvement of and dissemination to professionals from charitable organisations such as Gwent Multi-Ethnic Education Service, the network can increase knowledge and capacity for advocacy amongst educational practitioners with regards to the school curriculum in England and Wales, and the representation and inclusion of the history of minority groups and their role in and interaction with broader national histories and identities.