As we come towards the end of our month of contributions on being ‘Open to People’, it is time to reflect on the Open University’s consistent highlighting of migration’s underlying issues.
By returning to the archives in the light of current research, we can see the significance of the University’s consistent championing of mobility, at home and abroad. The interaction of research, teaching and community engagement is not a sudden response to the latest crises but an integral part of the vision and mission of the Open University. Moreover, the mission can only be fulfilled in partnership, most famously with the BBC as evidenced by the rich archive of programmes, but also with other universities, with activists in the community, with fellow researchers and students, with the wider media and above all with migrants.
Being open to people includes being open to constructive criticism. If we take, for example, a clip of any of our ‘Meet The Immigrants’ series with the BBC, we might also learn from a review and from tracing what happened next to any of the participants. So Kongosi and Ben Mussanzi wa Mussangu, a couple who featured in this, went on to be recognised by others for their contributions to communities both here and from the place they had had to flee.
The series was thoughtfully reviewed.
If we return to our first post of this Year of #Mygration, the footage of the Open University’s Professor Stuart Hall, there are many analyses of the contributions he made to this field and to the inspiration which he gave. For example, Fazal Rizvi wrote that:
At the Open University in particular, where interdisciplinary scholarship was encouraged, Hall could not have avoided considering Wittgenstein's views on meaning and truth, especially as they stressed the relationship between language and human forms of life.
Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, Volume 36, 2015 - Issue 2: Stuart Hall, 1932–2014: Educational projects, legacies, futures, Stuart Hall on racism and the importance of diasporic thinking, Fazal Rizvi, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Pages 264-274 | Published online: 13 Mar 2015.
Claire Alexander records:
April 1994, while visiting an old college friend at Princeton University, I attended the Race Matters conference, held to mark the (as it turned out, comparatively short-lived) departure of Cornel West to Harvard. The conference was a veritable Who's Who of the African-American Academy – from West himself, to Toni Morrison, Manning Marable, Patricia Williams and Angela Davis. At the end of the opening panel, the floor was opened to questions and comments. The first speaker moved through the crowded audience to the microphone and quietly introduced himself – ‘Stuart Hall, The Open University’. The room exploded into applause. It was the only time I have ever witnessed someone getting a standing ovation for simply saying their name. When I remarked on this later to Cornel West, he told me – ‘The thing you have to understand, Claire, is that we all grew up reading Stuart. We wouldn't be here without him. We all stand on his shoulders’. It is almost impossible to overestimate the significance of Stuart Hall in shaping the field of racial and ethnic studies in the past four decades. Both personally and in the body of his work, Hall has been a foundational figure for scholars in Britain, the US, the Caribbean and beyond, in opening new avenues for thinking about race, politics, culture and identity.
Cultural Studies, Volume 23, 2009 - Issue 4: Stuart Hall and 'Race', Claire Alexander, Pages 457-482 | Published online: 08 Jul 2009.