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RISC reopening news

Dear Friends!

The RISC team has developed a strategy for re-opening the Centre so we can continue to provide services for the town. We have conducted risk assessments of each area of our operations and will introduce protocols to ensure your safety. We have a timetable for emerging from lockdown, within government guidelines. There will be changes to ensure social distancing

We look forward to seeing you!



Educational Resources - Reading's Slave Links

It is ironic that the Prime-Minister is concerned that the removal of statues lionising colonial 'heroes' "would be to lie about our history, and impoverish the education of generations to come". The fact is all history is partial and the established view of our past consolidated by Michael Gove's (abetted by Dominic Cummings) 2014 re-write of the curriculum to “celebrate the distinguished role of these islands in the history of the world” , air brushes much of the history seen from the perspective of colonised peoples, women and the working class.

Prompted by the Black Lives Matters movement the Guardian has looked at GCSE data on the teaching of black history in schools . It found that although schools are permitted to teach non-European and black history, few of them do. To test your own knowlege have a look at the Guardian's timeline of two millenia of world-shaping individuals and momentous events that define Black history.

RISC's work has always aimed to redress the balance. Over the next few issues of RISCy News we will feature some of the resources you can access.


View of John Blagrave's Pembroke Estate, Trelawney, Jamaica

This exhibition uncovers some of Reading’s links with the transatlantic slave trade, the campaign for its abolition and its long-lived aftermath, including today's, large, well-established African and Caribbean communities. It is another part of Reading’s hidden histories that impacted on our town’s development, its people and prosperity.

For example Blagrave St and the pub are named after the Blagrove/Blagrave family which have been connected with Reading for over 400 years. The famous mathematician and designer of astronomical instruments, John Blagrave who died in 1611, is commemorated in St Laurence Church. Another family member, Daniel Blagrove, was granted lands in Jamaica by Oliver Cromwell in return for support in the English Civil War. Fleeing the country at the restoration of the monarchy, he died in Germany, but his family went to Jamaica and developed the Cardiff Hall Estate and other plantations worked by slaves. The estate remained in the hands of this family line until the 1950s.Other interesting details are that the Royal Berkshire Regiment had its origins in regiments that were raised to suppress slave uprisings in the Caribbean and that Reading was slow to adopt the Abolitionist cause. Neighbouring Newbury and Henley joined the petition in 1788 while Reading delayed until 1792.

The exhibition is ideal for teachers or schools who want to explore local links to larger events. Another resource is University College London's Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slave-ownership which has been analysing the records of the payments made to slave owners when slavery was abolished in 1834. £20 million compensation (40% of the national budget and £17 billion in today's money) was paid out. The debt has been met by British taxpayers and was only paid off in 2015! Researchers at the Centre have been analysing the impact of this huge amount on private wealth. For example the ancestors of George Orwell, Graham Greene, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, George Gilbert Scott and David Cameron – all owned slaves and received compensation. Historian David Olusoga has an excellent series, Britain's Forgotten Slave Owners, which uncovers this largely forgotten aspect of the legacy of slavery. You can search the database to discover if your family or people in your town were slave owners.

click here to read more



film - The Salt of the Earth

An award-winning documentary, directed by Wim Wenders, follows the career of Brazilian photographer and ethnologist Sebastião Salgado, whose breath taking photos depict the vanishing lifestyles of the world's indigenous people. It ends on a hopeful note: he and his wife Lélia set up the Instituto Terra to re-forest 17,000 acres of severely eroded farmland in Brazil's endangered Atlantic forest region. The transformation over the past 30 years has become a model for restoration programmes.

click here to watch the trailer


Palestinian Villages Hidden Under Israeli Forests

Saffuriya was one of more than 500 Palestinian villages ethnically cleansed by Israel in 1948, during the Nakba. Journalist Jonathan Cook explains how Israel quickly acted to raze the villages so the 750,000 refugees could not return and then covered up these war crimes by planting forests over the ruins.

click here to watch the video


Timeline of Palestine's history

A chronology spanning the last two hundred years of events that have led to today's situation.

click here to read more



Food 4 families - Cookery Blog

The F4F team is putting together a growing list of recipes which will help you make full use of this summer's harvest. Courgettes are now in full swing. If you're fed up with ratatouille try using them to make a lovely moist cake or courgette & bean burgers.

click here to read the blog



Books - Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India, Shashi Tharoor

“When the British arrived in India in the 1700s, India was 27 percent of the global economy. When they left in 1948 it was 3%”. This book, written by a former UN Under-Secretary-General, is a case study of the impact of Britain's long encounter with 'the Jewel in the Crown'. the British state in India was […] a totally amoral, rapacious imperialist machine bent on the subjugation of Indians for the purpose of profit, not merely a neutrally efficient system indifferent to human rights. And its subjugation resulted in the expropriation of Indian wealth to Britain, draining the society of the resources that would normally have propelled its natural growth and economic development’

click here to buy the book

Order a copy using Hive and you can nominate The World Shop, as you local independent book store and Hive will give us a percentage of their book sale.



Books - wilding

Many farmers have been inspired by Isabella Tree's book Wilding which tells how she and her husband, Charlie Burrell, returned Knepp, their 1,400-hectare farm to nature, farming organic meat from free-ranging deer, cows and pigs. These include farmers who have set up Wild East to promote restorative farming in the wheat prairies of East Anglia. They aim to challenge everyone – across farming estates, industrial estates, housing estates, and schools, gardens, allotments and churchyards to be contributors to a great river of nature.

click here to buy the book

Order a copy using Hive and you can nominate The World Shop, as you local independent book store and Hive will give us a percentage of their book sale.



Music - Huey Morgan's Latin Music Adventure

BBC 6 Music DJ and Fun Lovin’ Criminals frontman Huey Morgan dives into the unique sounds of three countries - Puerto Rico, Brazil and Cuba - on a quest to understand Latin music's enduring appeal. A love-letter to the Latin sound, this series takes Huey right back to is own roots; born and raised in the cultural melting pot of New York, with Puerto Rican ancestry, these rhymes are in his DNA. He reveals the amazing diversity of styles that emerged from the encounter between the indignous culture of the Americas, European greed and enslaved Africans. He not only meets many surviving iconic musicians but also traces how traditions changed to reflect changing economic and political challenges - dictatorship, revolution and injustice - and introduces exciting new artists who you'll want to follow up on Spotify.

click here to listen