Conference 1

‘What Is This [new] “Black” in Black Popular Culture?’

Stuart Hall, Social Justice (1993)

We take as our starting point, the title of Stuart Hall’s essay, ‘What Is This “Black” in Black Popular Culture?’ and ask our panelists  to consider Black.

Popular Culture in their lifetime, in their work and in other’s work, that they engage with . What we need to consider for the future – working outside the rest of Europe ? Hall’s essay was published 20 years after we’d been in this space, now we need to consider, 23 years after he wrote it, where are we now and where do we go from here.


Establishing the cultural frameworks to enable the discussion and to explore the Black dynamic theory and practice.

Conference 1 will aim to lay the theoretical and critical foundations, which will help to frame and form the basis of discussion for the ongoing series. 

Conference 1

Comments and feedback

Panel 1 – Music

  • New information for me. Very thought provoking Learning about new music and new movements

Panel 2 _ Idols and Icons

  • Talk about spirituality, religion was excellent. helped develop ideas I have had I enjoyed the history and links back to the origins of relations and how it was used as a tool
  • Very informative and engaging

Panel 3 – Cultural Theory

  • I really enjoyed this – discussion on the importance of the ‘politic’ and how this effects the message which helps sappy current culture
  • Discussions, questions ??/  answer excellent, extremely interesting
  • Too male-dominated – why Malcolm X and not Angela Davies?
  • Great! Need the conversation to continue – too little time
  • Dr Kehinde Andrew’s passionate radicalism
  • Nice to hear viewpoints and made me view things differently

Panel 4 – Style

  • Balanced and informative
  • Powerful discussion with great reflection on different stories
  • I really liked to hear the different view on things

Caleb Olufemi (poet)

  • Made me cry! Powerful
  • Something about the collaboration of poetry and conversation touched me
  • Really really fantastic. I’m so glad I got to hear his poetry – it was a new experience for me and I thought he was a fantastically grounded and interesting person with a lot to say. I’d like to hear more
  • Genuine personality. Honest
  • Wish he had spoken for longer. Great personality
  • Superb. Funny/humorous. Still touching on social topics
  • Guest speaker – Ben Okri
  • Worth the wait!
  • Great inspirational speaker with great inspirational messages
  • From the two sessions I attended, excellent
  • Great treat!  Really good range of speakers
  • Short-time I was here, found it very interesting. Please do another one!!
  • Very enjoyable evening
  • Great start!
  • Great conference – I wish more stuff was on like this, bringing debate and like-minded people together to discuss differences in experience and perspective. Really enjoyed!
  • Please keep me in the loop for future events – especially regarding education…What a brilliant, provocative inspiring day! Thank you
  • This day has been duly inspired. Exchange views knowledge and thoughts. More discussion like these need to happen for the growth, independence and pride of our community.  I’m happy I shared and people learnt from my views.  Also, I learnt from everyone that spoke.
  • Excellent event! Please have more!
  • I would like to see more community workers involved on the panel.
  • We need more of these talks
  • Thank you for arranging such a wonderful event. It was truly engaging and most of the issues discussed very relevant.
  • The whole day was packed with interesting, intelligent speakers and gave me some really good avenues to research for personal reasons. If there are any more such events, can you please let me know?

Conference 1 

Who are we when we talk about Black?

In a society made up of people with multiple cultural references and hybrid identities, how do we name ourselves?
Who is doing the naming?


  • Explore how the cultural, political and the personal relate to current representational practices and our knowledge of the past and contribute to our aspirations for the future.
  • Examining and challenge artistic and curatorial practices as they relate to the cultural politics of skin colour, race and representation with particular reference to people of African decent and the arts.
  • Discuss what is currently accessible and how do we make it accessible for modern black/African identities to engage on an equal par?


Keynote speakers and panelists will be drawn from cultural theorists, activists, professionals and practicing artists.

Ben Okri

Leading voice in African literature (Keynote speaker)

Justin Mckenzie

Artistic Director/MD - Jazz re:freshed

Dr Kehinde Andrews

Associate Professor of Sociology

Caleb Femi


Jacob Whittingham

Writer/ Author

Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff

Freelance journalist

Wail Qasim

Writer, critic and campaigner

Kinsi Abdulleh

Visual artist, Editor, Producer and Educator. Founder of NUMBI Arts

Robi Walters

Award winning Artist/ Creative

Inua Ellams

Poet, Playwright/ Performer, Graphic Artist and Designer

Chardine Taylor-Stone

Writer, cultural producer and feminist activist

Kevin Le Gendre

Journalist and broadcaster (Music chair)

Fiona Compton

Journalist and broadcaster

Patrick Vernon

Associate Fellow for the Department of History of Medicine at Warwick University (Cultural theory chair)

Ayishat Akanbi

Fashion stylist, writer, cultural commentator

Kojey Radical

Musician, poet, and mixed media visual artist

Lola Okolosie

Columnist for Guardian Opinion, editor-at-large for Media Diversified

Event Schedule:


Intro/ Welcome/ Housekeeping

Session 1:


Chair – Kevin Le Gendre
Chardine Taylor-Stone
Kojey Radical
Justin Mckenzie


Session 2:
Idols and Icons

12 –1.30

Chair: Lola OkolosieK
Kinsi Abdulleh
Inua Ellams
Robi Walters


Session 3:
Cultural Theory


Chair: Patrick Vernon
Jacob Whittingham
Kehinde Andrews


Session 4:


Film screening:
London Locks (Best Documentary at the New Renaissance London Film Fest.)

Chair: Fiona Compton
Liv Little
Aaron Christian
Ayishat Akanbi



Caleb Femi

Spoken Word Performance

Ben Okri
Keynote speaker

Q&A and book Signing

7.30 – 9pm


Sat: 19th November
Time: 9am -9pm

Open to public including SOAS staff and students.


Djam Lecture Theatre (DLT),
University of London,
London WC1H OXG

Based in central London — SOAS is a short walk from the London Underground’s Goodge Street and Russell Square stations.