Jo gives talk at Brighton with Roshi Naidoo on heritage and diversity
Jo Littler, together with Roshi Naidoo, gave a talk this week to the Centre for Memory, History and Narratives at Brighton University. Entitled ‘All that Jazz: heritage and diversity in the Downton years’, the paper considered the relationship between heritage and discourses of ‘diversity’ circulating in contemporary British culture. Beginning by noting the populist revival of stately home culture as a key signifier of Britishness via Downton Abbey, the paper used an analysis of the programme’s depiction of a black American jazz musician as a springboard into considering the place of diversity initiatives in contemporary heritage cultures. It discussed the fate of diversity initiatives under the coalition and now the Conservative government and their position as one of the first areas to face austerity cuts. In doing so, the paper asked: How does ‘diversity’ become reconfigured in a neoliberal heritage landscape that increasingly depends upon private ‘enterprise’? Through what means might this new naturalized, privatized, racialised order of inequality be challenged? How can the past help reconfigure a politics of difference with a sense of our global interconnections and commonalities?