Lunchtime Lecture (Midlands): Imperial Flights and Encounters: recovering the experiences of People of Colour in Scottish wartime aviation, 1914-1945

21 November 2024

On Thursday 21st November 2024 at 12pm, Isobel Westbury will consider the experiences of People of Colour in Scottish wartime aviation. This lecture will be hosted in-person at our Midlands site and live-streamed via Crowdcast.

 

Talk Outline

Today, Britain’s imperial history is at the forefront of national conversations. As a result, in the field of war studies, there have been significant developments in the awareness and contributions of colonial and Commonwealth troops, especially in the field of public history, in the Royal Flying Corps and the RAF between 1914-1945. Nevertheless, studies into the wartime experiences of people of colour within Scottish aviation have been virtually non-existent. My PhD research aims to recover these narratives, addressing questions of ethnicity, identity and marginalisation.

 

At present, these wartime contributions from air service personnel of colour in both world wars are not reflected in the histories presented to visitors at the National Museum of Scotland, or the National Museum of Flight which is their site dedicated to aviation history, nor at any other aviation museum in Scotland. Consequently, this timely research is being conducted in partnership between the University of Edinburgh and National Museums Scotland and will be the first sustained attempt to reconstruct the presence of Black service personnel in wartime Scottish aviation between 1914-45.

 

This proposed lecture will share the methodological approaches required for this research and highlight the problems with piecing together this crucial element of Black British, and Scottish, history. I will talk through the sources and documents that have been used to construct this narrative and share a selection of the individual stories that have so far been identified.

 

Location

This hybrid lecture will be hosted in-person at the RAF Museum’s Midlands Site in the Lecture Theatre. Attendance in-person is free but registration is required via Digitickets.

Livestream

To attend virtually, register via Crowdcast.

About Isobel Westbury

Isobel received a bachelor’s degree in History and American Studies from the University of Nottingham and a master’s degree in Museum Studies from the University of St Andrews. After working in the museum sector for a year, Isobel decided to take the opportunity to complete her PhD in collaboration with National Museums Scotland. Her PhD is looking into the presence and experiences of Black service personnel within Scottish wartime aviation between 1914-1945, hoping to demonstrate the diversity of Scottish aviation and contribute to the re-examination of museum displays and the collections held at the National Museum of Flight and the National Museum of Scotland.


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