Making Time: A collective timeline of Asian diasporic art and activism in the UK

I was recently invited to participate in a workshop, held by AsiaArtActivism to make and mark a collective timeline of Asian disaporic art and activism in the UK, alongside artists, academics, curators and activists. This was particularly timely given my British Academy/Leverhulme project, ‘Becoming East and Southeast Asian and the Politics of Belonging’.

Diasporic communities from across South / East / Asia have long circulated the British Empire’s wheels of production. Early settlements in the UK have been followed by modern and contemporary waves of migration, alongside struggles for safety, equal pay and the right to remain. These South / East / Asian struggles are part of wider Black, labour, migrant, decolonial and artistic movements that have shaped this country, but are less visible in the popular imagination. The workshop raised the following questions:

How can time-lining Asian diasporic art and activism in the UK describe less visible Asian histories and relationships to UK’s artistic and civic movements? How can this exercise gather intergenerational knowledge, and act as a collective tool for observing patterns and actions for the future? And how can time-lining Asian diasporic art and activism help to re/connect and find new connections with wider political struggles?

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Photo: AAA