For years, students and staff at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) have been active voices in debates about ‘Decolonising History’ – what it means in practice, and if it is even possible.

Inspired in part by SOAS’s own uncomfortable past as a training college for officers of the British Empire, SOAS History department hosted five Tamasha playwrights on an access-all-areas basis.

Five thrilling audio dramas reflect what they found. Exploring issues from politicised teaching, to the legacy of trauma, to the joys of discovering uncelebrated historical figures, these five plays showcase the power of drama to unpack big ideas in a human and relatable way.

Hear two of the five audios dramas at Rich Mix on Wed 30 October:

Scar Tissue by Satinder Chohan
When sisters Neeti and Priya travel back to India to scatter their grandmother’s ashes, Neeti takes with her the final recordings their beloved Bibi made on her death bed. Haunted by her past and gripped by strange visitations, Bibi’s voice follows them on their journey, before revealing a devastating secret.

Please note: listeners may find some scenes featured in this piece distressing.

The Museum by Danusia Samal
Once upon a time, a desperate man accepted an offer he couldn’t refuse for a collection of highly personal community artefacts at risk from war. Years later his daughter, on a scholarship to a London university, seeks out the academic she holds responsible. What lengths is she prepared to go to, to reclaim this lost museum?

Accompanying the playback will be a panel debate involving SOAS staff, students and playwrights, chaired by Aliyah Hasinah and featuring MA.MOYO (performer). This will be your opportunity to ask questions about the journey they have been on together, and about this fascinating subject.

Illustration by Erin Aniker.

The discipline of History as we know it today is a product of the age of European empire. This has had profound consequences for our understanding of where ‘history’ happens and who shapes it.
Dr Eleanor Newbigin, SOAS University of London

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