Dr Berny Sèbe (D.Phil, Oxon.), FRGS, FRHS, FHEA
As a specialist of colonial and postcolonial studies with a specific interest in North Africa and the Sahara desert, I intend to raise awareness about the human complexity of this region, as well as the impact of the colonial past on present-day politics and social dynamics in both Europe and Africa. As a result, my public engagement experience has focused mainly on public discussions around the situation in the region, at stand-alone events (e.g. lectures and Q&A sessions on the occasion of festivals or public events), as well as activities targeting a wide audience (e.g. articles in The Guardian). I also try to make my media appearances on radio and TV as ‘public engagement’-friendly as possible, in particular by making myself accessible for post-programme comments (e.g. I had dozens of e-mail requests in the wake of a Newsnight appearance).
More recently, my commitment to public engagement has taken a complementary form, with the launch of an innovative exhibition concept using large-format high-impact photographs to convey archives-based historical research about the role of fortresses in the colonial conquest and administration of deserts (www.birmingham.ac.uk/forts). This circulating exhibition (currently presented on the UoB campus, on University Square, Chancellor’s Court and in the Aston Webb Rotunda, but which go to the Jackfield Museum of Ironbridge Gorge in from mid-May onwards) lends itself to a variety of public engagement activities, such as commented visits (e.g. ‘picnic in the desert’ in partnership with a colleague from African Studies), thematic public lectures (e.g. this summer: ‘The Sahara comes to Shropshire’) and film screenings (e.g. at the Midlands Arts Centre in Birmingham). This comes in addition to other public engagement activities, such as lectures on the occasion of festivals aimed at a wide audience (e.g. History Festival of Blois in France), or series of guest lectures (e.g. tour of French cultural institutes in Algeria in February 2015).
More biographical information can be found on www.bernysebe.com