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Current Projects

Carnival Event.

Caribbean Carnival Cultures

The Caribbean Carnival Cultures research project at the Centre for Culture and the Arts falls under the Postcolonial Cultures strand. Despite the 50 years that British Caribbean communities have brought carnival, their major artistic creation, with its highly significant cultural history, into the public life of the UK there is little scholarship on this topic in cultural studies, in history, or in literary studies. The aim of this project is to create a platform to develop carnival research in the UK and internationally.

To this aim project lead Dr Emily Zobel Marshall alongside Professor Emeritus Max Farrar have successfully organized a Caribbean Carnival Symposium in 2014 and Emily has presented her ongoing research on Carnival Tricksters at the Leeds Cultural Conversations Series. A Leeds Beckett University funded PhD student Tola Dabiri is further developing the project through her analysis of the function of the oral tradition in carnival cultures in her thesis entitled ‘De-coding 21st Century Carnival’.

Working in partnership with the Leeds West Indian Carnival Committee, the Centre for Culture and the Arts hosted an international conference in May 2017. The conference celebrated the 50th anniversary of Leeds West Indian Carnival, the first Caribbean street carnival in the UK. This interdisciplinary event brought together researchers, participants, costume designers, musicians, filmmakers, artists and founder members of the Caribbean carnival in the UK and internationally to showcase and analyse the phenomenal people's art of carnival. 

More information on this project. 

Contact: Dr Emily Zobel Marshall.

Image © Max Farrar

The Congo Free State across European Cultures

Funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research this project will create the first European research network on colonialism’s culture in the Congo Free State. The aim of this project is to identify the Congo Free State as a case study par excellence for cultural exchange in the history of European overseas.

This project will be the first to analyse the Congo Free State under Leopold II (1985-1908) as a space of international cultural encounter through an analysis of its cultural production across language, media and society. From this new perspective, the Congo Free State will be considered as a transnational phenomenon with a significant impact across the fin the siècle world.

We will set up a structurally embedded Congo Free State research network that organises academic and public events, academic publications and a virtual research portal creating a focal point for anyone interested in the Congo Free State. We envisage that our research will inform future events and exhibitions in European museum galleries dedicated to colonial history.

As Joseph Conrad says of the arch-colonialist in his Congo novella, Heart of Darkness: "All Europe contributed to the making of Kurtz". We intend to show the validity of this remark, and to consider how the likes of Kurtz also contributed to the making of Europe.

Our partners in this project are:

  • Open University of the Netherlands
  • Uppsala University
  • Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren

Contact: Dr Rob Burroughs

Heaton Project

The aim of this project is to produce a guide to locations in Leeds connected to Dr John Deakin Heaton (1817-1880) and mentioned in his Journal. Heaton was a Leeds physician and promoter of provincial civic pride in nineteenth-century Britain. His journals are a rich and varied resource providing information for scholars researching issues relating to the domestic and civic activities of the urban middle-class elite during the nineteenth century. The guide will comprise a map interface with content plotted at specific locations using map pointers.

The content will be in the form of text and images derived from Heaton's Journal and other sources as well as explanatory information provided by the project's Director, Dr Simon Morgan. The guide will be available as a mobile web application, as well as desktop and tablet versions, providing users with location-based walking tours of the many sites of interest.

The journals comprise seven closely written leather-bound volumes, totalling approximately 2,800 pages (1.4 million words), which were probably written up from a daily diary, now lost. The journals document the life and times of a man who was at the heart of the nineteenth-century Leeds elite. They are an invaluable resource to scholars interested in the public and private lives of the provincial middle-classes, the feminist activities of his wife, and his sister Ellen's activities as an early patron of Dante Gabrielle Rossetti and correspondent of John Ruskin. The journals have recently come into the possession of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society (YAS) who are keen to make this source more accessible to scholars while actively engaging the wider community of Leeds and the West Riding of Yorkshire with this fascinating part of their history.

Our partner for this project:

  • University of Sheffield HRI Digital


  • English studies, heritage, history, manuscripts, mobile applications, online resource, social history
  • Technologies: CMS, CSS, GoogleMaps API, HTML, mobile applications, MySQL, PHP

Contact: Dr Simon Morgan

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