JUSTICE TO HISTORY ENQUIRIES
We have arranged the enquiries into four broad geographical categories:

  • (a) African History Enquiries
  • (b) British History Enquiries
  • (c) American and Caribbean History Enquiries
  • (d) World History Enquiries

1.  Historians interpretations of African history through the centuries, particularly Western historians and the ideas of the 19th century ‘Dark Continent’ theories.  The enquiry focuses particularly on the ancient civilisations of Southern Africa at Mapungubwe and Zimbabwe.
The enquiry questions:  How dark was the story of Africa before 1900?

2.  The history of Timbuktu in West Africa.  The focus is on how rich the history and civilization of an African city could be, despite its label as ‘mysterious and dangerous’ by the West.  The spread and influence of Islam in Africa is a major feature of this enquiry.
The enquiry questions:  How could there be so much learning at the ‘end of the earth’?

3.  The history of the Asante Empire of West Africa in the 18th and 19th centuries.  The focus is on power and its symbols and authority in a polity, and how the encounters between African and British people were fraught with misunderstanding in the age of imperialism.
The enquiry questions:  Why does no-one sit on the Golden Stool of the Asante people?

4.  The history of Apartheid in South Africa.  This enquiry attempts to approach the topic in a radically different way, with a focus on lesser-known characters, rather than the heroic Mandela and villainous Verwoerd, although the latter plays a part in it.  The key figures are Robert Sobukwe, an African nationalist, and the Rev. Beyers Naude, an Afrikaner church minister.
The enquiry questions:  Why did the Rev. Beyers Naude break rank from his church in 1963?

5.  The story of Claudia Jones, a Caribbean woman who migrated to the USA in the 1920s, and was then expelled in the 1950s for her political activism, and came to Britain, where she worked tirelessly on behalf of Caribbean people who had migrated there.  The enquiry examines her significance in different locations.
The enquiry questions:  Why is Claudia Jones’ blue plaque not outside her house, nor in her homeland?

6.  The history of people from Somalia in Britain, from their earliest arrival in the late 19th century to the present day.  The enquiry explores key concepts of migration: assimilation and autonomy.  The lessons draw on stories from the lives of Somalis who came to live in Cardiff in South Wales at different times.
The enquiry questions: Why did the Somalis finally decide to unpack their suitcases in Britain?

7.  The Race Relations Act of 1965 and the story of post-war immigration from the Caribbean to Britain.  There is a focus on the development of overt racism in Britain through the 1950s and the response of local activists and government to these issues, including the Bristol Bus Boycott and the Smethwick election of 1964.
The enquiry questions:  Why did Britain have to pass a Race Relations Act in 1965?

8.  The history of feminism in Britain in the 1960s and 1970s.  The enquiry focuses on some key characters and moments in the ‘feminist revolution’ that occurred in times of great social change in the 1960s.  Germaine Greer is a key character in the story, but there are also ordinary women whose lives were documented on television at the time.  The protesters at Ford’s, Dagenham and those at the Miss World Contest in 1970 feature as well.  There is time devoted to exploring what feminism meant at the time, and the intersection of issues of gender, class and race.
The enquiry questions:  How far did feminism give birth to ‘new women’ in Britain by 1975?

9.  The history of soldiers from the British Empire in the First World War.  The enquiry focuses on soldiers from Britain’s Indian Empire and the way in which ideas about their ‘race’ affected the way that they were regarded and involved in Britain’s struggles in the First World War.  The enquiry begins with a little-known incident in Canada in July 1914, and culminates in the story of how Indian soldiers were treated when they arrived in England after being injured on the Western Front.
The enquiry questions:  How far did ideas of race affect the British view of Indian soldiers in the First World War?


10.  The history of New World Slavery and the Transatlantic Trade. The focus of the enquiry is on the ways in which this particular form of slavery was unique and structured around race.  Although economic aspects of trading are featured at times, the enquiry is essentially social and political.  The construction of race is central and political, and the enquiry begins with contemporary concerns about racial profiling before going back to the Middle Ages and the positive African figure of Saint Maurice.  The approach of this enquiry is very different from the conventional classroom approach to this history.
The enquiry questions:  How far did New World Slavery turn Africans into Negroes?

11.  An introductory enquiry into broad themes of American history.  This enquiry looks at three core ideas in ‘big pictures’ of American history: liberty, progress and unity.   Ideas of ‘rugged individualism’ and ‘manifest destiny’ are explored.  The three key characters who form the shape of the enquiry are John Adams, Samuel Colt and Abraham Lincoln.
The enquiry questions:  What is the American Way?

12.  The history of the African-American Civil Rights Movement.  Rather than pursue the history of this vital part of twentieth century American history through the traditional narrative of ‘Martin Luther King and Malcolm X’ Justice to History chose to enquire into the story of one neglected figure: Robert Franklin Williams, who, despite Rosa Parks’ pleas at his funeral, has been largely forgotten.  It is an enquiry about historical interpretations as well as about the socio-political history of the postwar American South.
The enquiry questions:  Why has Robert F. Williams been forgotten?

13.  A short enquiry into an aspect of Latin American and Cold War History, looking at the recent history of Nicaragua and the struggle of local people to wrest themselves out of the grip of dictatorship and foreign control.
The enquiry questions:  Who should have decided the fate of Nicaragua in the 1980s?

14.  An enquiry into the neglected history of the Islamic civilisations of the Middle Ages, when the world of Islam developed science from an eclectic blend of ancient and contemporary sources.  The enquiry begins with a challenge from the present day scientist Richard Dawkins and then examines his claims about religion and science from a historical perspective.  Key Muslim scientists, including Al-Khwarizmi and Ibn al-Haythem are studies, and the students also explore key aspects of Islam and its religious practices.
The enquiry questions:  How Islamic was the science of Medieval Muslims?

15.  A longer enquiry for GCSE students studying the Cold War, on the Cuban Missile Crisis.  The enquiry begins with several lessons on overarching Cold War themes, including asymmetry, the domestic political imperative, the military-industrial complex and nuclear warfare.  Then the background of Cuba and its revolution are examined before moving to the particular events of the early 1960s.  The key characters of Castro, Kennedy and Khrushchev feature strongly throughout.
The enquiry questions:  How far did the Cold War become unwinnable after October 1962?

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