New project uses theatre to explore Black health and justice

An LJMU academic is leading a major project to explore themes of reproductive health and justice in Black communities.

Dr Andrea Livesey, senior lecturer in the history of slavery, has designed From Slavery to Roe vs Wade: Using Theatre to Explore Black Diasporic Understandings of Reproductive Health and Justice along with Collective Encounters and the International Slavery Museum.

The project is among the first to receive new funding from the British Academy, the UK's national body for the humanities and social sciences.

Dr Livesey is one of 14 researchers across 13 projects to receive funding via the new SHAPE Involve and Engage Awards, a pilot scheme designed to support creative methods of engaging the public in cutting edge SHAPE research (social sciences, humanities and the arts for people and the economy), in partnership with galleries, libraries, archives and museums across the UK.

Working with local communities

The project will work with women from Liverpool’s descendent communities to better understand how participatory theatre methodology can help curators understand difficult sources and artefacts, and to co-produce research into slavery. They will explore links between reproductive violence under slavery and in the present day.

Dr Andrea Livesey said: “I'm delighted to receive funding from both the British Academy and LJMU to undertake this vital collaborative work alongside local artists and communities, Collective Encounters and the International Slavery Museum.

“In an era of increasing threats to women's reproductive freedoms worldwide, it is now more important than ever to work together to understand the links between reproductive health and justice, past and present.” 

Creativity, innovation and diversity

Professor Julia Black, President of the British Academy, said: “Our vision is to see public engagement fully embedded in research and so we are delighted to support these partnerships between researchers and cultural organisations which will do just that, galvanising local communities and target audiences related to their research themes.

“I know that the review panel were struck by the sheer creativity, innovation, diversity and variety held not only within our disciplines, but in how researchers feel they can meaningfully engage with audiences through arts and culture institutions which sit in the hearts of communities.

“On behalf of the Academy, I offer my warmest congratulations to those who have received awards. We hope that their partnerships will inspire and spark new meaningful connections between communities and the humanities, social sciences and arts.”


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