Statement by the Society for the Social History of Medicine in Support of Goldsmiths Staff, Minoritised History, and History in the UK
The Society for the Social History of Medicine is alarmed by the announcement of redundancies in History and English and Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London. We are similarly concerned by the series of History losses at Kingston, London South Bank, and Sunderland Universities, among others, with additional threats being reported at Leicester, Aston, Chester, Hull and elsewhere.
We use the word ‘losses’ carefully here, for, in current circumstances, we believe that the loss of historical space is not only a risk to the field, but to society, with skills, insight, and training being lost that would help equip people of all ages and backgrounds with much-needed tools to assess claims of truth. But whilst we write of ‘losses’, let us be clear: we also know that these people, subject areas, and skills are being actively erased.
We stand with our colleagues—academics and administrators—and our students to say that the erasure of experience in areas considered by some as ‘minority’ is simply another form of oppression. Now is the precise time, when the pandemic has laid bare landscapes of inequality, that we need to foreground the histories of b/Black and LGBTQIA+ people, through the lenses of health and medicine, rather than jeopardise pathbreaking courses centred on them, as Goldsmiths’ proposals do.
Our Society’s Values Statement (https://sshm.org/values-of-the-society-for-the-social-history-of-medicine/) underscores how the social history of medicine is multi-faceted and multi-disciplinary by nature. We note that Goldsmiths colleagues working in the histories of race, gender, and sexuality, as well as at their intersection with the history of medicine, are threatened by ‘redundancy’. Yet they are not redundant; they, their work, and the fields to which they contribute are essential. Just as essential are the administrators, who are vital for sustaining the effectiveness and efficiency of departments. Their loss will mean lecturers and tutors will have less time for both teaching and research, which in turn will only diminish students’ experiences.
We agree with and, by including their statements below, seek to amplify the words of other organisations, learned societies, and archives that have lent their weight to supporting staff and students at Goldsmiths. Together, united.
Association for Art History: https://forarthistory.org.uk/conference/2022-annual-conference/
British Association for Irish Studies: BAIS Open Letter in Support of Colleagues at Goldsmiths | British Association for Irish Studies (wordpress.com)
British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies: BASEES Open Letter on the Proposed Redundancies at Goldsmiths, University of London — Basees
History Workshop Journal: HWJ and HWO editors object to redundancies at Goldsmiths – History Workshop
North American Conference on British Studies: NACBS on Twitter: “The NACBS Executive has released the following statement: https://t.co/2WL9phOAKK” / Twitter.
Social History Society: Statement on Goldsmiths – The Social History Society
University and College Union: https://www.ucu.org.uk/boycottGoldsmiths
We Are Goldsmiths: https://we-are.gold/2021/10/14/open-letter-to-frances-corner/
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