In the Media

Published: 14 December 2020

Members of SMLC brought their subject expertise to television programmes broadcast in Scotland and the Czech Republic, a world radio programme and appeared in magazines as far afield as the Netherlands.

BBC's 'Scotland, Slavery and Statues' documentary
The documentary, last shown on BBC Scotland on 24th October, follows the four-year debate over how Henry Dundas should be remembered on the inscription of the Melville Monument in Edinburgh. Sir Geoff Palmer and his supporters have argued for years that Henry Dundas deliberately delayed the abolition of the slave trade when he won support for abolition to be ‘gradual', whereas Henry Dundas’s ancestor Bobby Melville and others argue that Dundas was an abolitionist who was being pragmatic. The programme follows every twist and turn of the story, including how Scotland’s debate triggered a similar discussion in Canada on whether to rename Dundas Street in Toronto, and looks at how events in Bristol impacted on decisions made in Scotland. With historians also debating the actions of Henry Dundas, the programme asks how Scotland as a country can come to an agreement on this and its long connections with slavery. Lecturer in French, Dr Rachel Douglas' contribution focused on the British occupation and the key role played by Dundas who sent British troops to colonial Haiti during the Haitian Revolution. The documentary has generated a fierce debate about Dundas and slavery with articles in The Herald and The Times and other media by Professor Sir Tom Devine and Professor Sir Geoff Palmer. These debates over Scotland's and Dundas's role in slavery also took place in the context of the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020. In Scotland, BLM protests saw activists dialogue with Dundas through graffiti on the base of the inaccessible statue that towers 150 feet above Edinburgh. Temporary  changes were also proposed to Edinburgh and Glasgow street names including Dundas Street. Alternative street signs renamed this main street 'Emancipation Street'.
Dr Douglas first appears around 18 minutes into the programme.


BBC World Service Programme on Austrian Peace Activist
In June, the BBC World Service flagship programme 'The Forum' was devoted to the Austrian writer and peace campaigner Bertha von Suttner, the first woman to win the Nobel Peace prize (1905). The programme featured Dr Barbara Burns (German) who has worked extensively on Suttner who was one of the most significant writers of her era. An ardent advocate of peace and arbitration, she used the medium of fiction to reach as broad a readership as possible. Her novel 'Die Waffen nieder!' (1889), translated into English as 'Lay Down Your Arms', became an international bestseller, and she travelled throughout Europe and America to lobby for her cause. Barbara Burns, editor of
a new critical edition of Suttner's novel, joined an international  panel of three experts to discuss the author's life and legacy. Listen to the programme here:

Franco’s censorship on the Dutch news
Prestigious Dutch weekly news magazine De Groene Amsterdammer published an article on the long-lasting impact in Spain of Franco's censorship on June 24. The subject of the article was Dr Jordi Cornellà-Detrell’s (Hispanic Studies) research, which focuses on the long-lasting effects of censorship in Spain. The article, entitled ‘Franco’s censuur leeft voort’ and written by Pamela Kallman, addressed the question of why the advent of democracy did not stop the production, circulation and consumption of censored books in Spain. It explains that many of the published translations of the classics of English and American literature currently available in Spain are still the edited versions approved by the Franco-era censors and argues that, since publishers have continued to offer expurgated texts to the public, censorship still plays a function in Spanish cultural life. The independent, highly regarded De Groene Amsterdammer Dutch weekly magazine is published in Amsterdam and distributed throughout The Netherlands.

Interview with Aleś Michalevich
Aleś Michalevich was the main opposition candidate in the 2010 general election in Belorussia. He was arrested and tortured but escaped to the Czech Republic where he was given political asylum. He is now back in Minsk. Dr Jan Čulík, lecturer in Czech, discussed the progress and the prospects of the ongoing democratic revolution in Belarus in this Britské listy Interview, which was broadcast on the Czech cable TV station on Wedesday 19th August 2020. To watch the interview (in Czech with English subtitles) visit 

First published: 14 December 2020

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