The Great Wars, Race, And Empire

24 October 2019, 6.30pm - 8.30pm

New Art Exchange

Nearly ten million soldiers were recruited to the British Army from Asia and Africa during the World Wars, and many millions were involved as civilians. Chaired by artist Jagdish Patel, with researchers Tomar Beh and Diya Gupta, this talk goes beyond military history, to explore the experience of war on a social and cultural level, looking at the impact of war on Muslim families in Nottingham today.

Film maker, Catherine Leen will show her documentary Betrayal, and local Muslim families will talk through their Second World War histories.

Dr Diya Gupta

Dr Diya Gupta is a Postdoctoral Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of English Studies, University of London. She is interested in the intersections between life-writing, visual culture and literature, particularly in response to war. Diya holds BA and MA degrees in English from Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India, and Second BA and MPhil degrees in English from the University of Cambridge, UK.

Her first book project builds on her doctoral work at the Department of English, King's College London, completed in 2019. Diya's research provides the first literary and cultural examination of Indian experiences in the Second World War. Drawing upon her bilingual skills, she considers writing in both English and Bengali languages to untangle the troubled yet transformative emotional legacy of this war in the Indian subcontinent. For more information, visit

Betrayal documentary

Betrayal is an award-winning 15-minute documentary telling the story of the June 1919 riots and the murder of Bermudian Charles Wotten. Using interviews, archive material and dramatised footage, the short film explores the background to the riots, how events unfolded and their legacy. The documentary reflects on how in periods of economic and social instability communities can become fractured, and marginalised people scapegoated.

The film also dramatises the letters of ex-servicemen from the Caribbean and West Africa who were stranded in Liverpool and caught up in the turmoil. These letters, archived at the Liverpool Central Library, reveal both the men's predicament and the shameful official response to their plight.

Betrayal is a collaborative production led by Liverpool-based BrownCow Productions, with the composer, contributors and voice actors giving their time free of charge.

Ages 12+

Are you a teacher? Dr Diya Gupta has co-developed a teaching and learning resource website providing lesson plans designed to encourage school students to find out more about how the British Empire was involved in the two World Wars:


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Logos for; Arts Council England, Nottingham City Council

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Logos for; Nottingham City Council, East Midlands Development Agency, Neighbourhood Development Company, European Regional Development Fund, Greater Nottingham Partnership, Arts Council England