Cumberland Lodge launched its new report on Difficult Histories & Positive Identities last night, at a launch event and reception in central London.

Published in print and digital format, the report offers a timely, cross-sector insight into how challenging aspects of the past can be engaged with in ways that create meaningful experiences of political and social belonging. 

It draws on the wisdom and experience of academics, educationalists, museum curators, NGOs, policymakers and young people from across the UK.

Our guest panellists at the launch were:

The report's author is our freelance Research Associate, Dr James Wallis, and he gave his own reflections on the report, before the panel discussion.

In his foreword to the report, Cumberland Lodge Chief Executive, Edmund Newell, said: ‘This Cumberland Lodge Report marks the culmination of a 12-month project to explore the legacy of highlighted “difficult” aspects of the UK’s history, in relation to contemporary identities and forms of belonging.

'We look forward to seeing how it inspires positive action to promote more peaceful, open and inclusive societies.’

The report includes a thorough, interdisciplinary review of current research and thinking around 'difficult histories', and highlights case-studies such as: the commemorations of the bicentenary of the abolition of slavery; the Imperial War Museum’s approach to ‘difficult histories’; reconciliation in Northern Ireland; and the legacy of Edward Colston in Bristol. It also explores the teaching of History in schools, The Holocaust as ‘difficult history’ and how the recent past is managed in Germany, and Britain’s tendency towards cultural amnesia. 

Part II of the report presents key findings from conference and consultation discussions convened by Cumberland Lodge, earlier in 2019, and practical recommendations to help practitioners and policymakers bring about positive change.

Watch on-demand

The video of our live-stream from the launch event can be watched via Facebook here:

We have been tweeting about this project at #clDifficultHistories

Request a copy

To request a hard copy of the report, please email us at

Report launch photos