Decolonising the Curriculum with Archives Unbound

│By Megan Bowler, Gale Ambassador at the University of Liverpool│

This post explores how Gale’s Archives Unbound series can be used to help with the urgent and vital task of decolonising the curriculum. Archives Unbound includes twenty-one unique collections focused on African American history, as well as numerous other collections which document the lives and experiences of other ethnic and social minorities around the world. (All Archives Unbound collections are available at the University of Liverpool, as we have access to Gale Reference Complete.) In light of the Black Lives Matter protests and growing discourses around ethnicity, colonialism and education, I was particularly drawn to exploring a collection focused on the federal surveillance of African Americans, including of Malcolm X and of the group he set up, the Organization of Afro-American Unity. This group argued that education was a vital element in the fight for civil rights.

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Teaching Primary Source Research Skills – Discovering New Points of View about European and Colonised Women Using Gale’s New Archive “Voice and Vision”

Women in Seminar Room

In this blog post, PhD student Meg Ison explains what she teaches and how she introduces students to primary source research skills at the University of Portsmouth. She also explores the new module of Women’s Studies Archive, Voice and Vision, and the fascinating insight it can give students into women’s involvement and influence in colonialism. 

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Cultural Appropriation or Swiftian Satire? Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado

“The Mikado.” Illustrated London News, 4 Apr. 1885

| by Masaki Morisawa, Senior Product Manager, Library Reference, Tokyo |

Last year, an American high school student’s twitter account flamed up when she posted prom pictures of herself wearing a cheongsam, or Chinese dress. Some Asian Americans accused her, who is not of Chinese descent, of cultural appropriation. “My culture is NOT your [expletive] prom dress,” wrote one particularly upset commenter. Others, including many Asians living in Asia, defended her actions and dismissed such criticism as irrelevant.

While “cultural appropriation” is a fairly recent term, similar debates have arisen in the past where the borrowing of “exotic” elements from foreign cultures have been criticised as offensive or disrespectful. One such example is Gilbert and Sullivan’s opera The Mikado, a work that is often hailed as the duo’s masterpiece, yet at times has stirred controversy due to its use of Japanese costume and settings. In this post I would like to take a look at the history of Mikado performances and the controversies surrounding them.

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