History, Heritage and Archives: Grasping the Past: Nuclear Legacies and Music Heritage

Date & Time:

24th November, 16:00


Online event; the link will be sent to those who register.


Jez Collins will discuss the Birmingham Music Museum (to open in 2025) and Chris Hill will discuss his work on imperial and nuclear history.

Jez Collins (Birmingham Music Archive) Help! I’m opening a museum! Is it a museum? What is a museum? Do I run an archive? What is an archive? What am I doing?

This talk will introduce the concept of the Birmingham Music Museum, which is due to open in 2025 and present some of the projects that the Birmingham Music Archive are undertaking in pursuit of their goals to document and celebrate Birmingham’s musical history, heritage and culture.

I’ll be asking a question, of myself as much as anybody else, if what I’m doing can be considered as history and archive work, and is it really a museum or visitor experience I’m opening? And who cares what I call it, does it really matter?

Conversely can this work been seen as disrupting traditional models and notions of history, heritage and what a museum is, or can be? Is it the manifestation of scholars such as Flinn, Caswell, Baker, Leonard and others’ work about the democratisation of history, heritage and archives and the creation of DiY and DiT museums?

I’ll be interested in hearing what you think it is I’m doing, cos I’m not sure!

Dr. Chris Hill (University of South Wales) Nuclearising Empire and Historicising the Nuclear Past: A Researcher’s Guide

British imperial and nuclear history constitute two enormous fields of scholarship, each with distinctive concepts, data sets and historiographies. For the most part, however, the task of integrating these fields and making their key approaches and questions speak to one another remains untested. In my current research, I ask what the nuclear past, with radioactive properties that transcend anthropocentric markers of time and space, might mean for imperial history, a field fixated with geopolitical borders and linear chronologies. Conversely, I also ask what recent scholarship in imperial history – around colonial violence, political ecology and reparations – might mean for how legacies of the nuclear past are grasped and negotiated. In reflecting one field off the other, I offer in this talk a historical theorisation of what nuclear ban campaigners call ‘nuclear imperialism’. Such a theorisation should enrich understandings of how imperial power relations and nuclear technologies have shaped one another over time, leading to a current predicament in which climate crisis, fragile geopolitics and nuclear weapons and waste all intersect in the Pacific.

About the speakers:

Jez Collins is the founder and director of the Birmingham Music Archive C.I.C. The BMA captures, documents and celebrates the musical and creative culture of Birmingham and its communities through a range of diverse and engaging projects. We provide cultural and creative consultancy to a variety of sectors working in music, place-making and tourism. Collins is also a co-Director of Un-Convention C.I.C., a global grassroots music network that helps build sustainable music infrastructures, and a Board member of Soul City Arts.

Dr. Christopher Hill is Lecturer in History at the University of South Wales. He is currently undertaking an AHRC Early Career Leadership Fellowship for a project entitled: ‘The New Nuclear Imperialism: Science, Power and Diplomacy in the British Empire’.