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Current Projects

Carnival Event.

Caribbean Carnival Cultures: Power, Performance and Play 

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 are also hosting an international conference between 19 – 21 May 2017, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Leeds West Indian Carnival, the first Caribbean street carnival in the UK. This interdisciplinary event will bring 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. Selected conference contributions will be published in peer-reviewed journal.

More information on this event.

Our partner for this project:

Leeds West Indian Carnival.
Leeds West Indian Carnival Committee.

Contact: Dr Emily Zobel Marshall.

Image © Max Farrar

Pride of Place: England's LBGTQ Heritage

Pride of Place is a ground-breaking research project exploring the relationship between lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) heritage and the built environment. The project shoes how LGBTQ heritage is a fundamental part of our national heritage and seeks to improve knowledge of, and access to, this history. 

This collaborative project with Historic England investigates the buildings and places associated with LGBTQ history, including the private house of influential individuals, urban gay bars and the first UK venues to host equal marriage ceremonies.

Using innovative crowdsourcing and mapping techniques, the result is a map of England that identifies locations and landscapes across the country that hold a sometimes hidden, sometimes public, LGBTQ significance and history.

Research team:

Professor Alison Oram 

Professor Ian Strange

Justin Bengry

Dr Bronwen Edward

Claire Hayward

Robert Bevan 

More information can be found on the project web page.

An interactive map can be viewed here.

Y21 Research Cluster

The Y21 Research Cluster examines the potential of socio-cultural regeneration in twenty-first century Yorkshire City Regions across inter-disciplinary fields including:

  • writing regeneration in former coalfields;
  • communities, heritage and the construction of city regions through tourism;
  • engaging black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities with socio-cultural inclusion through sport & the arts;
  • social disadvantage, cultural strategy & the European Capital of Culture bid 2023 (Leeds 2023).

Contact: Dr Katy Shaw.

Brewing Performance

Brewing Performance emerges out of a series of cross-disciplinary performance interventions at The Tetley in Leeds by performance makers from Leeds Beckett University and their invited guest artists. A symposium at The Tetley follows this exploring the possibilities of 'brewing' as a metaphor for making, seeing, and writing about contemporary performance and live art. To brew is to transform, to let something settle, and to create the conditions for one ingredient to affect another.

Brewing is relational and effective. It is passive and active; predictable and unanticipated. We might think of brewing as the site where the organic is controlled but also free to grow and infuse. As a practice, brewing constitutes both work and play, practiced by amateurs and professionals within a commercial or domestic context. A cup of tea, trouble, a storm, and mischief - all brew.

Contact: Oliver Bray

CINAGE and Beyond

The original CINAGE research was carried out between 2012 and 2015 as part of a Grundtvig Lifelong Learning Programme project, funded by the European Commission, bringing together partners from Portugal, Italy and Slovenia. CINAGE explored European Cinema, and the way in which it addressed the ageing process, by undertaking a detailed review of European Cinema, and empowering senior learners to engage with European film by enabling reflection on their own personal experiences and their response to ageing through audiovisual media and, specifically, the making of short, fiction films. 

The results of this project were disseminated at a Symposium and Film Festival in July 2015 and other international conferences, with several of the films being screened at Film Festivals worldwide accompanied by talks from the filmmakers about their learning experience. As a result of the research, a new pedagogical approach began to be developed and CINAGE 2016 saw 21 older learners – between the ages of 65 and 89 - embarking on a filmmaking course with the resulting four films being screened, followed by a panel presentation, in October 2016 at the Bradford City of Film Golden Screen Festival.

The new pedagogies and practices, explored through the CINAGE research, has led to the Mining the Memories research project led by the Northern Film School, working with older people in South and West Yorkshire who had first hand experience of the Miners’ Strike of 1984/5. The participants were led through a series of workshops exploring what the strike meant to them, the long term consequences for themselves and their communities and how these ideas could be shaped into scripts. This work has resulted in eight short films. The short films were crewed by NFS students, ex-students, staff and associates allowing the researchers to research the efiicacy of the inter-generational  learning experience.

Our partners for this project are:

  • Aid Learn, Portugal
  • Centro Studi, Italy
  • The Slovenian Third Age University
  • Sherbet Animation (Industry partner)


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

Our Criminal Past

Our Criminal Past

Our Criminal Past is an AHRC-funded research network of scholars working in the field of the criminal, legal and penal history of Britain. The network will bring these scholars together with archivists and those engaged in an educational and heritage capacity in museums and prisons over a series of seminars, sustained through this network website and other social media. It aims to bring together scholars, researchers and heritage and penal stakeholders who are invested (academically and/or professionally) in the future of Our Criminal Past.

Thus 'Caring for the Future' of the history of crime is fundamental to the network discussions, collaborations and outputs. The creation of the network is in recognition of the growing importance of Our Criminal Past, not only to academics but also to archives, heritage professionals, educationalists and others in the wider community who have an investment in how the criminal past is to be preserved, presented and transmitted.

Contact: Dr Heather Shore