Camden Arts Centre

This talk will look at how we challenge the Western canon of contemporary art, ensuring that UK institutions have dialogues around diversity and the representation of artists from across the world alongside British minority artists, whilst thinking about how we mediate these differences.

Speaker James Walvin

Speaker: James Walvin, Prof of History Emeritus, University of York

Too often, slavery is seen as an exotic, discreet subject which belongs outside Western culture. This talk takes a different approach, arguing that slavery was pivotal to the way Western Europe emerged over a period of three centuries.

Multiculturalism is a conservative idea that is seen as progressive. It is about background, ethnicity, belonging, spokespersons and roots. Those who talk about roots talk about an idyll of the past, a historical El Dorado – in contrast to impartial institutions, technological achievements, gender equality, and modern society. A reactionary ideology does not become more radical just because ‘progressive’ journalists, politicians, and academics are cherishing it. The developed world has dragged a Trojan Horse into its midst.

Dr Göran Adamson will present this, albeit highly controversial, perspective on living cheek-by-jowl with many different races and cultures. This should ensure a lively discussion.


This talk will explore the life of William Seabrook (1884-1945), once a celebrated feature writer, journalist, travel writer and friend to many key artists of the New York and Paris Modernist era. Seabrook’s exotic travels led him to join the Bedouins, attempt to eat human flesh in West Africa, experiment with witchery with Aleister Crowley, pay Man Ray to photograph Lee Miller in bondage, and in his most lasting legacy travel to Haiti and publish Magic Island, the book he claimed introduced the zombie to American popular culture.

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