UWE Bristol academic's book chosen by BBC History Magazine as one of its Books of the Year

Media Relations Team, 11 December 2023

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Dr Shawn Sobers
Professor Shawn-Naphtali Sobers

A book dedicated to the Windrush generation has been named as one of the BBC History Magazine’s Books of the Year 2023.

Black Everyday Lives, Material Culture and Narrative: Tings in de House’ written by Professor Shawn-Naphtali Sobers, is a ground-breaking exploration of everyday life as experienced through the lens of Black British cultural history and creative practice, through a multiplicity of voices and writing styles.

The book tells a mixture of stories including his childhood memories, his parents and their peer generation’s memories, and also draws upon over 200 years of social history to examine culture and identity through objects. It examines life through a personal study of the family home – room by room, object by object – as a portal through which to examine the intricacies and nuances of daily considerations of African heritage people living in Britain in the modern era (post-1950).

It foregrounds the experiences of Black British lives by bringing the threads of history and culture into the relevancy of the present day and demonstrates how the personal sphere directly links to wider public and political concerns.

Shawn said: “I’m really pleased that the book has been noticed and recognised in this way. The book contains some very personal memories and reflections, as well as broader academic exploration, and writing it was a labour of love very close to my heart and what was going on in life. I’m humbled it has received such a positive reaction, and I’m just thankful to have had the opportunity to share this important history and stories with a wider audience.”

BBC History panellist Hannah Cusworth commented: “Black Everyday Lives, Material Culture and Narrative: Tings in de House (Routledge) by Shawn-Naphtali Sobers is a beautiful book. Room by room, it explores and celebrates Black British life. From the photo wall in the living room to the Dutch pot in the kitchen, Sobers deftly weaves together history and anthropology to show how the personal links to the political. His foregrounding of objects present in so many Black British homes made this a poignant read.”

Shawn is a Professor of Cultural Interdisciplinary Practice and Director of the Critical Race and Culture Research Network at UWE Bristol.

View the full list of Books of the Year.

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