“From Margins to Centre?” A Student Perspective on Representation in the Historical Discipline

This session took place as part of the 2020 Conference. The presenters were Clare Burgess.


The historical discipline has a diversity problem: as the October 2018 RHS Race, Ethnicity and Equality report showed, university history departments are “overwhelmingly white” – more so than the national average undergraduate population. Although 86.3% of those surveyed suggested that departments were attempting to diversify curricula, undergraduate research and teaching conducted is still lacking in representation of women, BAME groups, the LGBTQ+ and the disabled community. Numbers of students from these communities drop substantially at postgraduate and again at PhD level, as the RHS demonstrated. This trend is recognised by Student Unions: student campaigns to decolonise the curriculum exist at most universities. YUSU and GSA are running a similar campaign, and recently organised a “Decolonising and Diversifying Curriculum at York ” event.

“From Margins to Centre? An Undergraduate Conference on Marginalised Histories” was established to combat the lack of diversity and to encourage undergraduate students to take ownership of the discipline. It will be held at the University of York in February, featuring major figures such as Catherine Hall, and undergraduate panellists from across the country.

This presentation discusses establishing and promoting an entirely student-run conference, and shares feedback from the conference. It aims to give attendees an idea of the challenges and benefits of student-led initiatives, and of the state of diversity in the historical discipline. The conference is unique in the UK; the only student-run undergraduate history conference, and thus provides valuable insight into student perspectives.

You can access the recording of this session at this link here:

“From Margins to Centre?” A Student Perspective on Representation in the Historical Discipline (UoY Panopto log-in required)

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