Date range
25 February 2019, 10:00am to 25 February 2019, 12:00pm
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Join us for this roundtable, residential conference at Cumberland Lodge, to explore the legacy of difficult histories in relation to contemporary identities and belonging.

Experts and practitioners from diverse educational institutions and civil society will come together for two days to investigate how engaging with difficult histories can help us to shape the positive identity of citizens, and to create meaningful feelings of political and social belonging.


A diverse delegation of speakers and participants will address the following topics as part of the conference programme, through different types of session designed to get everyone involved in a candid conversation and open exchange of views:

  • How we teach history in schools and how that affects the formation of identities

  • How national and community identities are expressed in the built environment 

  • How we present difficult histories and articulate community identities in museums, and the impact this has on identities and belonging

  • How we can reconcile difficult histories and build positive identities and feelings of belonging.

Many of our conference delegates will be staying on for a free public lecture on Tuesday night from 6pm, where the British historian, Professor Martin Daunton will be discussing 'Contested Histories and Multiple Identities: The Place of the Past in the Present'.


Guest speakers participating in the conference include:

Yasmeen Akhtar - Alexander Haus

Christine Counsell -  Education Consultant and Director of Education, Inspiration Trust

Professor Martin Daunton - Emeritus Professor of Economic History, University of Cambridge

Christian Davies - Correspondent, Guardian and Observer

Professor Margot Finn - President, The Royal Historical Society 

Dr Roland Loeffler - Director, Regional Agency for Civic Education, Saxony

Keith Lowe -  Author and academic, The Fear and the Freedom: How the Second World War Changed Us

Dr Tiffany Jenkins - Author and academic, Keeping their Marbles

Dr Katie Markham - Research Associate, School of Arts and Cultures, Newcastle University

Michelle Perkins - Programme Associate (UK), Facing History and Ourselves

Kemal Pervanic - Founder, Most Mira, and survivor of Omarska concentration camp

Sean Pettis - Programme Manager - Legacies of Conflict, Corrymeela

Lisa Power - Board Member, Queer Britain


As European societies become more diverse, historical events and conceptions are increasingly being explored from a revisionist viewpoint.

Over the past few years, in Europe, history and its material and ideological legacies have become the subject of intense debate that is very much in the public eye, often prominently featuring in mainstream print and broadcast media.

At a national level, does Britain need to revisit its own history in light of its colonial past? The way in which the Government and policymakers refer to our collective past impacts on our sense of national identity and belonging. 

Schools, universities, museums and other public bodies, in particular, are also grappling with conflicting ideas about the past. They are increasingly called upon to respond to calls for more critical historical perspectives and to openly acknowledge these difficult histories through changes to curricula or curation.

With these challenges in mind, some voices in society are calling for the repatriation of colonial ‘spoils’ or the removal of colonial artefacts from public spaces, as a form of revisionism or an acknowledgement of historical wrongdoing.

All the while, individuals and communities within society are striving to build and develop meaningful collective and individual identities in relation to their own, complex social and cultural histories.

Conference outputs

An independently commissioned, summary report on the outcomes of the conference will be published on our Learning Resources webpages, along with delegate blogs and other audio-visual materials.

These materials will feed into a subsequent, policy-focused Consultation to distil the best practice and recommendations from the conference, with a view to taking these findings directly to policymakers, parliamentarians and people of influence in Westminster, later in the academic year.

Annual series

Our 2018-19 series of conferences, consultations, seminars, workshops and retreats is on the theme of  ‘Identities & Belonging’.

We are addressing pressing social and political issues through a multidisciplinary exploration of increasingly fluid identities and visions of belonging, in 21st Century Britain and beyond.

This event examines identities and belonging by exploring the relevance of history for the production of meaningful contemporary identities and feelings of belonging.


Attendance at some of our events is by 'invitation only' because places are limited, and we aim to ensure a balanced and diverse representation of backgrounds and perspectives to enhance the quality of our dialogue and debate.

To register an interest in any of the events taking place, please contact our Programme Department at or call 01784 497796.


We offer a certain number of student bursaries to attend some of our events. You can download an application form in the downloads box on this page. To find out more about applying for a bursary to attend a Cumberland Lodge conference, please contact Rachel Smillie, our Education Officer, at, or call us on 01784 497781.