Introducing the plenary speakers: Dr William ‘Lez’ Henry

With less than a month to go until the conference, we want to use this space to start introducing the work of some of the people participating in the day. (And if you want to feature in this blog please do contact us.)

In the middle of the conference we have, what we are calling ‘parallel plenaries’ (a slight oxymoron but work with us here…). Rather than paper presentations, the invited speakers will speak for about 10 minutes on the plenary theme, as a way of framing what has been discussed so far, and opening up conversations further.dr_lez_henry

One of the speakers on the ‘Politics of Urban Multiculture’ plenary is Dr William ‘Lez’ Henry. In some ways, Lez fully embodies the conference: an artist, academic, and activist all rolled into one, as well as a native south Londoner (and former student and teacher at Goldsmiths). Lez was heavily involved in the south London sound system scene, and wrote a book on the subject entitled What the Deejay Said: A Critique from the Street! (incidentally, the preface was written by Paul Gilroy, one of our keynote speakers). In the book, Lez explores the cultural politics of the 1970s and 1980s sound system scene, and the way in which it drew strongly from Jamaican culture but created something that was distinctly British. This is a story about racism in the UK, but also about  the possibilities of black cultural production, creating what Lez describes as ‘alternative public spaces’, a site of new articulations of both blackness and Britishness. Again, this for us embodies the themes of the conference.

You can read more about Lez’s work in this great interview. (Check out the amazing recording of a sound clash from 1984)

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