Speaking Back From the Margins to the BBC at 100
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Aasiya Lodhi & Matthew Linfoot – Speaking Back From the Margins to the BBC at 100: Sexuality, Race & Gender in the Archives
At its centenary juncture the BBC’s fight for survival has required it to pay closer attention to marginalised publics. How might such publics imagine a BBC fit for the next 100 years, and what cues might they take from erased or forgotten histories embedded in the BBC’s archives? This joint talk showcases two recent AHRC-funded archival projects on the BBC’s centenary focused on public engagement with minoritised communities. Hearing Our Stories: LGBTQ+ Lives and the BBC, led by Dr Matthew Linfoot, explores the relationship between the BBC and the LGBTQ+ audience, and the impact of BBC coverage on queer lives over the past 50 years. The project draws on archival examples from features, documentaries and current affairs programmes, capturing BBC reporting of key events in the queer chronology, from the early days of gay and lesbian liberation, to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, through to marriage equality. These extracts were shared with participants from two community organisations, Opening Doors and London Friend, whose reactions and discussions were recorded. The resulting podcasts offer a fascinating insight into an intergenerational response to the changing identities of LGBTQ+ lives as viewed through the lens of the BBC. Reclaiming A Lost Past: Black British Women, Visibility and the BBC, led by Aasiya Lodhi, examined some of the complexities of race, gender and media (in)visibility. Via two contrasting strands of focus – Black British actresses and Black British feminism on the BBC – the project encouraged a set of intergenerational groups to go against the grain of the archive, countering historical lacunae through creative and embodied responses. These included the production of artistic artefacts by London schoolchildren, in partnership with the Young Vic Theatre, a special episode of the podcast Letter to a Black Girl and a discussion at the Feminist Library on the tensions between activism and media visibility.
Dr Aasiya Lodhi is a Senior Lecturer in Media at the University of Westminster and a former BBC radio producer. She is co-editor, with Amanda Wrigley, of Radio Modernisms: Features, Cultures and the BBC. In addition to her public engagement work on archives Aasiya researches the mediation of colonial ideologies in twentieth-century Britain. She is currently writing a book on the ‘end’ of empire, writers and post-war BBC Radio.
Dr Matthew Linfoot is Principal Lecturer in Radio, Audio and Podcasting at the University of Westminster. Before joining the University, Matthew worked at the BBC in a variety of roles, including co-presenting the weekly LGBTQ+ magazine show at BBC GLR 94.9, and as a producer on the oral history series The Century Speaks. He won a SONY Gold Award for the music documentary You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away. Matthew contributes to the BBC Oral History Project, interviewing current and former LGBTQ+ staff.
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