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A discussion on family histories and inter-generational memory in changing times.

Family secrets come in many guises, from the deliberate withholding of information to the repressed memories of traumatic events. And in periods of rapid and disruptive change, it can be difficult to build bridges between the experience and values of different generations.

But in the silence which surrounds certain family members and in the gaps which may open up between different generational perspectives, it may be possible to imagine new and even alternative family histories which point to uncommon but potentially shareable ground. A new conversation may then begin between parents and children in which each discovers something new about the other - and themselves.

In this session, two writers who have a special interest in the dis/continuities of Jewish working class life histories and how these are relayed through storytelling will draw on their research to examine these questions. Phil Cohen will read from and discuss some of the issues which arose when he came to edit his father’s memoir A Long Life in the Making (Eyeglass Books 2021) about growing up in a radical Left Wing Jewish family culture in the Glasgow Gorbals between the wars.

Anthony Clave will draw on his book Promised Land (Yellow Jersey Press 2011) and more recent writing, to discuss experiences of Jewish working class life growing up in Leeds in the 1960’s. In conversation, some of the similarities and differences in structures of feeling and belief between the two communities will be highlighted. How has this affected the formative experiences of growing up Jewish and working class over the past century and how has this in turn been reflected in the political trajectory of the Anglo-Jewish diaspora over the same period?.

Phil Cohen

Phil Cohen is an emeritus Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of East London, and research director of the Livingmaps Network. He has worked for many years with the communities of East London documenting the impact of social and economic change on their livelihoods, life styles and life stories.

He is the author of a widely acclaimed study of the London 2012 Olympics, On the Wrong Side of the Track: East London and the Post Olympics and has written widely on issues of class, race and inter-generational relations. His memoir Reading Room Only (Five Leaves, 2013) describes the vicissitudes of growing up as a mitschling in 1950’s London, a theme explored further in Postcards to Grandad: A Family Romance (Eyeglass Books, 2019). this event will be in person and online.

Anthony Clavane

Anthony Clavane is a lecturer in Journalism and Storytelling at the University of Essex. His first book Promised Land won both the National Sporting Club’s Football Book of the Year and the Sports Book of the Year. Both this book and his second one, Does Your Rabbi Know You’re Here? were widely praised – and examined themes connected to Jewish identity. His third, A Yorkshire Tragedy (2016) was a Guardian sports book of the year. According to the New York Times “this magnificent book (is) a fascinating insight into a decade that changed the nature of sport and changed the face of the country.”

His other work includes the stage dramas Promised Land, Playing The Joker and Leeds Lads. He has been a journalist for 30 years, writing about sport for the Sunday Mirror and contributing pieces on the arts and culture to publications including The Guardian, The New Statesman, The New European and The Yorkshire Post.

Please note

This talk will take place in person and online. Please choose either option at checkout. A Zoom link to join will be included in the confirmation email upon booking.

Date - Mon 28 March 2022 7:30pm

£15 in the building or £10 online

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