• Dr #Juliet_Henderson on ’Decolonising #Florence_Park Street Names’

    Florence Park: Imperial Relic or Vibrant Community?

    A few of us in Florence Park are keenly aware of those local street names bearing the names of military men with brutal histories in the British colonies, who worked for the #East_India_Company. With the goal of ‘decolonising’ our area we have started work on a project intended to a) raise awareness about the colonial histories these names incarnate and b) contrast it with the real, vibrant history of our local community which dates back to the 1930s. As a first step to achieving this we plan to place local history community boards in different streets that present the contrasting historical perspectives. We hope this will prompt engagement from the wider community in ongoing plans.

    #toponymie #toponymie_politique #UK #Angleterre #noms_de_rue #colonialisme #colonisation #décolonial
    #son #podcast

    ping @cede

    • What’s in a Street Name?

      I recently had a weekend away in a village near Bath, Freshford, where street names are engagingly straightforward: The Hill, Station Road, Church Lane. A pleasing Bauhaus balance between form and function (or location). They contrast starkly with certain street names in Florence Park, the area of Oxford where I live. The same neat letters on rectangles distinguishing one road from another, but far more complex histories leaking out from the uppercase letters.

      For example, Campbell Road, Lytton Road, Cornwallis Road, Clive Road. Ring any bells? The men with these names were all employees of the East India Company, a private company that stripped India of its assets and was the world’s largest opium trader. The men were also key players in British rule in India – a rule that produced 35 million deaths from war and famine.

      How and why their names came to be used for our estate (built in the 1930s) is difficult to ascertain with any accuracy. What matters for this piece is that last year four members of our Florence Park Black Lives Matter protest group were prompted to bear witness to the colonial history and cruelty the names represented. We sought to generate awareness of the colonial history embedded in these names by contrasting that history with the real, ongoing local history and voices of our area.

      This approach was chosen because we felt that trying to change the street names could upset many who have lived in the area for years.

      To date, we have produced a 5-minute podcast for OxEmp (Oxford and Empire Network), ‘Decolonising Florence Park Street Names’, and have erected some posterboards in relevant streets (see picture). In these first steps to move ‘our homes’ away from the crack of the slave-master’s whip and a predetermined hierarchy that places ‘great white men’ at the centre of history, we have been met with smiles and appreciation from those in our diverse community who stop to take the time to read the boards. Many reach out to share their thoughts and stories if we’re in our front gardens to chat, and some come to knock on our doors to find us. A conversation is beginning.


      To continue this, we plan to produce leaflets and more boards challenging the idea our community accepts the harmful legacies of colonialism.

      We also plan to organise ongoing events that consider the part colonialism still plays in wider society and local communities, and how we can address this.

      ‘What’s in a name? That which we call a street by any other name would smell more sweet’. With apologies to the Bard.


  • Vient de paraître The East India Company at Home, 1757-1857 sous la (...) - Société française d’histoire des outre-mers

    La version pdf du livre, comme pour tous les ouvrages des UCL Press, est gratuite .
    “The #East_India_Company at Home, 1757–1857 explores how empire in Asia shaped British country houses, their interiors and the lives of their residents. It includes chapters from researchers based in a wide range of settings such as archives and libraries, museums, heritage organisations, the community of family historians and universities. It moves beyond conventional academic narratives and makes an important contribution to ongoing debates around how empire impacted Britain.
    The volume focuses on the propertied families of the East India Company at the height of Company rule. From the Battle of Plassey in 1757 to the outbreak of the Indian Uprising in 1857, objects, people and wealth flowed to Britain from Asia. As men in Company service increasingly shifted their activities from trade to military expansion and political administration, a new population of civil servants, army officers, surveyors and surgeons journeyed to India to make their fortunes. These Company men and their families acquired wealth, tastes and identities in India, which travelled home with them to Britain. Their stories, the biographies of their Indian possessions and the narratives of the stately homes in Britain that came to house them, frame our explorations of imperial culture and its British legacies.”

    #empire #impérialisme #Royaume_Uni #histoire #Asie #intérieur #nabob #décoration #identité