The Prayers of David Oluwale: Writing History Along the Bias Grain

Due to industrial strike action, this event has been cancelled.

This talk draws from my research on the life, death and legacy of David Oluwale, a Nigerian born man whom many believe was murdered by two Leeds City police officers in 1969. This essay will engage with modes of critical fabulation and reading along the bias grain to dwell on the vantagepoints of David Oluwale’s life that escape comment, but not necessarily capture within an archive that renders him persistently violated and fated for death. It will explore and question the function and values attached to the blue rosary beads and red prayer book found on his person at the point of death. In doing so, this essay will ponder how these items allow historians to broaden our understanding of the Black Atlantic roots and routes that have shaped the making of contemporary Black Britain – some of which involve the movements of people and religious cultures from West Africa to Latin America and back again.

By turning to the possessions of the dispossessed, I would like to suggest that these ostensibly cherished belongings offer an important vehicle to work against the constraints of the archive, speculate about ways of living in excess of the logics of racial capitalism and reframe postwar histories of Black Britain.

Poor migrants with bags seen from the back fleeing the country

Image: 'Belgians fleeing' by Leo Gestel 

Presenter: Kennetta Hammond Perry

Wednesday, 15 March 2023 at 5pm