Reparations for our slavery links – how might they work?

Posted on: August 10th, 2023 by mlpEditor

The battle for reparations for the illegal trafficking, torture, murder and exploitation of enslaved Africans during Britain’s slave-trading era is gaining traction. Influential organisations, institutions, and individual families have acknowledged their guilt and have offered to pay financial compensation.

Robert Beckford will argue that, while those who have diligently campaigned for reparations for over half a century welcome these developments, they should also be cautious.

His presentation will identify three areas of immediate concern. These are ‘miscalculation’ of the debt,’ the ‘erasure of Black campaign history’ and ‘hegemonic control of the compensation narrative.’

The lecture will also consider an alternative programme for meaningful restorative justice based on ‘liberative ethics,’ ‘constructive engagement’, and ‘historiographies of the underside.’


This event forms part of the Manchester Lit & Phil’s programme of events following the publication of the Report by researchers from the University of Central Lancashire’s Institute for Black Atlantic Research: The Manchester Lit & Phil and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, 1780-1865.

Mushroom forage with wild gin at Fletcher Moss Park

Posted on: August 7th, 2023 by mlpEditor

Join us for this foraging tour to explore fascinating Fungi. Each species has its role and its special connection and purpose in its habitat. There’s lots to learn, including how to identify mushroom species.

The tour will begin with a taste of wild gin made from foraged delights. Suitably fortified, and with staff and baskets in hand, we will then head off into the woods to see what we can find.

By the end of the session, you should be able to confidently identify two or three species of mushroom that we have focused on, depending on what is coming up on the day. If we find enough edible species, we will be able to have a fry up at the end and sample our foraged delights!


Good to know:

The foraging tour will start at 10.00am. We will meet at the entrance to the park on Stenner Lane, by the Didsbury pub.

Getting there:

Bus numbers 23, 42, 42A, 157 and X57 all stop near the entrance to the park. Tram stops Didsbury Village or Didsbury East are about 7 minutes’ walk away.

Great Expectations – at the Royal Exchange Theatre

Posted on: August 3rd, 2023 by mlpEditor

Come along to the Theatre Group’s visit to ‘Great Expectations’ at the Royal Exchange Theatre.

From the Royal Exchange’s website:

This adaptation of a classic by Tanika Gupta is just pure genius. You’ll get to see the familiar Dickens framework, but it comes with a twist.

All my life they looked down on me, always cursing and abusing. But you, you will be different!

Bengal, 1903. Rumours that the British Empire plans to partition Bengal spread and uncertainty is never far away. For one Indian boy destiny is found on the banks of the River Padma before the Goddess Lakshmi. Here a promise is made. Born out of terror or kindness the choice Pipli makes that night will shape his life forever.

Pooja Ghai directs Tanika Gupta’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. Pipli moves from his home in Rajshahi to the bustling streets of Calcutta. With an open heart he navigates unforgiving darkness and unsettling friendships in his search for a better future. For Pipli, dharma – the right way of living, is never far away.


Lit & Phil members and friends are invited to book their seats directly with the theatre for the 2.30 pm matinee performance on the 20th September.

There will also be a post-theatre meal at Cote Brasserie in Manchester at 5.30 pm. This will be an opportunity to share our views about the play in a relaxed atmosphere.

Please email the organiser, Joanna Lavelle, via the button above if you would like further information or if you would like to join us.


Good to know: There will be an online pre-event discussion led by Dr Manju Bhavnani before the play on Tuesday 12th September at 6.30 pm via BlueJeans and an online post-event discussion on Tuesday 25th September at 6.30pm. Email the organiser via the button above for signing in details.

If you can’t go to the theatre on September 20th, you can still join in the pre-event discussion on September 12th and/or the post event discussion on September 25th.

China: A view from the Bridge

Posted on: July 26th, 2023 by mlpEditor

How does contemporary China perceive the United Kingdom? What is the nature of the special relationship between these two historic ex-imperial powers of East and West? How has Britain’s recent departure from the EU affected this relationship?

More generally, we may ask what are China’s perceptions and common misperceptions of the UK affecting trade and diplomacy? And what is the legacy from Britain’s 19th and 20th century engagements with China and Hong Kong?

Who better to address such questions than the two special guests at this ‘in conversation’ event: Cindy Yu and Mark Logan MP. Both Cindy and Mark are Masters graduates in contemporary Chinese studies from Oxford University and fluent mandarin speakers. Cindy Yu is Assistant Editor at The Spectator and presenter of the Chinese Whispers podcast. Mark Logan is currently the Conservative MP for Bolton North East and vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on China. They can be said to ‘bridge the culture divide’ between China and the UK.

Manchester’s connections with China are of course not only historic, but extend to recent twinnings, notably between the cities of Manchester and Wuhan. There are strong ties between Manchester’s universities and research centres throughout China. And Manchester’s high schools and several Confucius Institutes in the NW region play an important part in promoting mandarin and Chinese language studies, in part acknowledging the growing Chinese diaspora in the NW region.

Join us for what promises to be an enlightening discussion on the nature of our relationship with China today.

Bat Walk at Broadhurst Park Local Nature Reserve

Posted on: July 18th, 2023 by mlpEditor

**New date**

Join us for this evening outdoor walk to meet the bats of Broadhurst Park, delivered in partnership with the Friends of Broadhurst Park Community Group. Bats have a vital role in ecology but are increasingly endangered. Broadhurst Park is one of the best places in Manchester to encounter them!

The Bat Walk will start with an introduction to these fascinating creatures and the equipment we will be using to detect them through their echolocation frequencies. We will then take a leisurely walk around the park, with the hope that we will see the bats just after sunset; the time when they start flying.

Good to know:

The walk will start at 6.30pm and finish at 8.00pm at the latest, to give us the best chance of seeing these captivating creatures.

Temperatures can drop at night so please remember to wrap up warmly. If you can bring a torch, that would be helpful, but is not essential.

We will meet at the St Mary’s Rd entrance to the park (close to the St Mary’s Rd/Joyce St. junction) the blue gate by the side of St Mary’s Nursing Home, Moston, Manchester M40 0BL.

Getting there:

Broadhurst Park is about ten minutes’ drive from the centre of Manchester and 10 minutes from the M60 (Junctions 21 and 22). There is plenty of street parking near the site (on Joyce St., round the corner).

Bus numbers 181,182 and 52 pass down St Mary’s Rd. Newton Heath and Moston Metrolink station is about 5 minutes’ walk away.

Manchester, the slave trade & the Manchester Lit & Phil

Posted on: July 17th, 2023 by mlpEditor

In May 2023, the Manchester Lit & Phil welcomed the Report by researchers from the University of Central Lancashire’s Institute for Black Atlantic Research: The Manchester Lit & Phil and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, 1780-1865.

The research was commissioned by the Society following the worldwide debates in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. The Lit & Phil wanted the researchers to explore what links – be they direct or indirect – its early members may have had with the slave trade.

As part of the Society’s follow-up to the Report’s publication, this event welcomes a distinguished, specially invited Panel to reflect on the key findings and to discuss its many-faceted implications for the present day – both for the Lit & Phil, and for the wider understanding of how best to address the legacy of the slave trade. That legacy continues to impact Manchester’s culture, economy and social fabric.

Panellists include the Report’s research team leader Alan Price and other experts in the field and will be chaired by Professor Erinma Bell MBE. The ‘Question Time’ format should hopefully allow for debate as well as questions. Event registrants will be invited to submit questions for the panel, by email, in advance of the event. Time will allow only a small selection of questions to be put to the panel, although where possible supplementary questions & comments will be invited from the floor.


An extract from the report’s Abstract:

…The research, which was carried out by scholars at the University of Central Lancashire, found that a significant number of early Lit & Phil members profited to varying degrees from links to the slave-based economies of the Black Atlantic. These members contributed to the transatlantic slave trade by stimulating demand for slave-produced cotton as enormous wealth flowed into Manchester through the scaled-up industrial capacity of its mills. They range from engineers James Watt, Richard Roberts, Sir William Fairbairn and Joseph Whitworth; to mill owners Peter Drinkwater, Robert Owen, James McConnel, John Kennedy, George and Adam Murray, and Samuel Greg; to slave-produced goods traders John Birley and Sir George Philips. Some were more directly involved in financing slavery and owning slaves, such as Benjamin Heywood, who invested in slave voyages, and George Hibbert, a plantation owner and anti-abolition campaigner.

In detailing how these individuals and their families and networks were connected to the transatlantic slave trade, this report addresses a longstanding gap in the information available on Lit & Phil members’ positions with respect to slavery during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Its publication is evidence of the Lit & Phil’s willingness to enter into further dialogue about increasing diversity and inclusion within its own membership and engage more actively with contemporary demands for acknowledgement of their historical links to transatlantic slavery within a community that is still marked by racial prejudice and inequality.

Delivering the Greater Manchester Integrated Care Strategy

Posted on: July 10th, 2023 by mlpEditor

What does the future of healthcare look like for our region? Sir Richard Leese is the man to tell us.

The 2022 Health and Care Act created Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) across the whole of England. Greater Manchester ICS came into existence on July 1st that year. NHS Greater Manchester and our region’s ten Councils are now charged with working together to improve population health, to tackle health inequalities, deliver good value-for-money health and care services, and have regard for the wider economic and social role of the NHS.

At the core of Greater Manchester’s ICS’s approach to meeting these challenges is a neighbourhood model that integrates and aligns NHS and Council Services. But improving population health must mean addressing the social determinants of poor health. And this goes far beyond the provision of integrated care services, however effective they may be.

The NHS and Councils have come together with a vast array of stakeholders, including citizens themselves, in the GM Integrated Care Partnership. In March this year the partnership board signed off the comprehensive medium term strategy to meet the objectives set in legislation.

Following that, in late June 2023, the GM Integrated Care Board agreed its 5 year Forward Plan, setting out how the healthcare strategy was going to be delivered and how it would measure and account for that delivery.

It is an immense endeavour that will require the broadest engagement. But Richard Leese and his dedicated team believe it sets out a route to a far, far healthier and happier city-region.

Join us for this talk to hear the inside story on how the vision will be delivered.

I’m an absurdity – get me out of here! Absurdism and Albert Camus

Posted on: July 5th, 2023 by mlpEditor

What is the meaning of existence? The famous French-Algerian author and philosopher Albert Camus (1913-60) believed that life had no meaning. His philosophical view was called existentialist absurdism. And who has not at some point thought that life is absurd?

We each span a few decades between two oblivions on a speck of a planet in an inconceivably vast purposeless cosmos.  The omnipotent God who once granted purpose to human life is now gone from most Western people’s beliefs.  And we each get thrown into this situation … no-one asked to be born.

Is this not all an absurdity with no ultimate meaning? Albert Camus bravely faced up to this head on. Yes – existence was ultimately meaningless.  But despite this, can we still gain any meaning in our lives? Is there a possibility of hope? Let’s explore that together.


Good to know: We take pride in putting the fun back into serious philosophy through our friendly and respectful discussions involving different levels of experience of philosophy.  The Lit & Phil Philosophy Forum is all about collectively exploring interesting and exciting ideas from different viewpoints … not winning arguments!

Bobby Mears’ focus paper I’m an absurdity – get me out of here!  should be read before the Forum to enrich and guide our discussions.

We are usually oversubscribed, so if you book but find out later that you cannot attend, please cancel your ticket to free up a place for someone else. Thank you.


Annual Section Meetings

Posted on: June 28th, 2023 by mlpEditor

Members are invited to attend the Annual Section Meetings. They will be held consecutively, starting at 6.30 p.m.

A formal notice is being sent by email.

The Agenda for each meeting is as follows –

  1. Minutes of the last ASM
  2. Any necessary elections*
  3. Review of the activities of the Society since the last ASM
  4. Any other matters of interest to the membership
  5. Q&A session

* Please note that as per our Articles of Association only those with either a Full or Joint annual membership, or an ‘Honorary Life’ membership, can vote in elections.

After the meetings, please join us for a celebration of the great work Lit & Phil Section members and other event organisers have done this year in producing an interesting programme of events.

Drinks and light refreshments will be served.


A copy of the Annual Sections Report is available here.

Four Ways of Thinking: Statistical, Interactive, Chaotic and Complex

Posted on: June 28th, 2023 by mlpEditor

What is the best way to think about the world? How often do we consider how our own thinking might impact the way we approach our daily decisions? Could it help or hinder our relationships, our careers or even our health?

Acclaimed mathematician David Sumpter has spent decades studying what we could all learn from the mindsets of scientists. His book Four Ways of Thinking (published August 2023) is the result.

Thinking about thinking is something we rarely do, yet it is something science questions all the time. Rather than being about facts, scientific and mathematic disciplines are, in large part, about finding better ways of reasoning. Our primary mission is to shape our own minds in a way that gets us closer to the truth.

David will illustrate four ways of thinking (Statistical, Interactive, Chaotic and Complex) through the lives of four mathematical scientists — Ronald Fisher, Alfred Lotka, Margaret Hamilton and Andrej Kolmogorov. But that doesn’t mean you have to be a mathematician to enjoy this talk!

He will combine personal experience with practical advice, showing how these tried and tested methods can help us with every conundrum. From how to bicker less with our partners, to pitching to a tough crowd.