Legacies of slavery, ‘Hidden Histories’, and contemporary racism

Wednesday 5th October

We invite you to join us in person for this ‘in conversation’ style event between the Rt Hon. the Lord Boateng and the Bristol Illustrious Visiting Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town, South Africa hosted by the International Research Partnerships team at the University of Bristol.


The panellists will explore how institutions – such as the Anglican church and universities – think about navigating the complex range of issues tied up with legacies of slavery, colonialism, and links to contemporary racial justice. There will be time for questions from the audience which will be chaired by Professor Tim Cole, Professor of Social History and Director of the Brigstow Institute at the University of Bristol.

Speaker biographies:

The Rt Hon. the Lord Boateng

The Rt Hon. the Lord Boateng DL was brought up and educated in Ghana and studied law at Bristol University, he is qualified both as a Solicitor and as a Barrister of Greys Inn. He is a civil liberties lawyer, politician and diplomat and is Chair of the Church of Englands Archbishops Commission on Racial Justice.

He was the MP for Brent South 1987-2005 and served as a Minister in the Labour Government 1997-2005, in both the Dept of Health and the Home Office before becoming a Cabinet Minister as Chief Secretary to the Treasury in 2002. He stood down from Parliament in 2005 to serve as HM High Commissioner to South Africa and the PMs Special Representative for the Africa Commission and the Great Lakes Region. He was elevated to the House of Lords in 2010, has served on the Joint National Security Strategy Committee and is currently on the International Relations and Defence Committee of the House of Lords. He serves on the Boards and as Chair of a variety of Private Sector and Charitable Bodies in the Banking Development and Cultural sector in the U.K. and Africa. He is Chancellor of the University of Greenwich.

Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng

Professor Phakeng is the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and our inaugural Bristol lIlustrious Visiting Professor. As part of her Professorship she has been engaging with a range of scholars at the University of Bristol and exchanging institutional knowledge on a range of issues, including the ‘hidden histories’ of our respective Universities and approaches to tackling different forms of racism.

Professor Phakeng began her term of office as Vice-Chancellor of UCT in July 2018. Previously she had been serving as Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Internationalisation at UCT since January 2017. She holds a PhD in Mathematics Education from the University of the Witwatersrand and is a highly regarded B1 National Research Foundation-rated scientist with over 80 research papers and five edited volumes published. She has been invited to deliver over 40 keynote/plenary talks at international conferences, and as a visiting professor in universities around the world. She has won numerous awards for her research and community work, including the Order of the Baobab (Silver) conferred on her by the President of South Africa in April 2016. In August 2014 CEO magazine named her the most influential woman academic in Africa; in August 2016 she was awarded the prestigious Businesswoman of the Year Award in the education category; and in 2020 she was included in Forbes’ inaugural list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Africa. She also received an honorary Doctor of Science from the University of Bristol in 2019.

Throughout her illustrious career she has broken new ground as the first woman in a range of prestigious positions, including being elected as the first woman President of the Convocation of the University of the Witwatersrand, leading the Association for Mathematics Education of South Africa (AMESA) as its first woman National President, and being the first black South African researcher to be appointed to co-chair a study commissioned by the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction.

You can read a more detailed biography about Professor Phakeng here.

This event is organised by the International Research Partnerships Office, part of Research Development at the University of Bristol. The Bristol Illustrious Visiting Professorship (BIVPs) is a year-long appointment during which Professor Phakeng has been engaging with our academic community and building institutional partnerships.

Please be aware that the organisers plan to take photographs during the event, which we will share online (including our Twitter feed, website and/or blog). If you are uncomfortable with this, please notify a member of the team on the day and we will endeavour to try and avoid including you in any photographs. Due to the nature of the event we cannot guarantee you won’t be in any images, but we will try and avoid taking photos where you are clearly visible.