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LSBU symposium on the legacy of Stephen Lawrence 20 years on

29 April 2013

London South Bank University (LSBU) this weekend hosted a symposium 'Media, Culture and Racism: the Legacy of Stephen Lawrence 20 years on', bringing together academics, arts and cultural practitioners, teachers and policymakers to explore the enduring legacy of the Stephen Lawrence case.

More than 80 delegates participated in the interdisciplinary debate about the impact of the case and its landmark public inquiry, our understanding of racism in its institutionalised form, and to promote dialogue about its impact twenty years on.

Mrs Doreen Lawrence attended the symposium, taking part in a panel discussion together with Dr Richard Stone, a panel member on the Macpherson Inquiry, and Brian Richardson, criminal barrister. Speakers included Professor Les Back of Goldsmiths University of London; Professor Simon Cottle of Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies; and Rehana Minhas, who led the development of the Stephen Lawrence Standard in schools and colleges in Leeds.

The symposium was organised by Tahera Aziz, a senior lecturer in LSBU's Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences, to explore the wide-reaching and ongoing impact of the Stephen Lawrence case and public inquiry.

"The racist murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993 attracted intense media attention and public debate. The findings of the 1999 Macpherson Inquiry into the flawed police investigation of the case have had far-reaching implications for the way that racism is understood in the UK, prompting an apparent shift from 'institutional racism' to official anti-racism.

"More broadly, the case has touched many aspects of social-political and cultural life, providing a frame of reference for changes in law, policing, race relations, education and the arts. This symposium was a unique opportunity to reflect on hitherto unpublicised aspects of the inquiry, and reminded of the challenges we face to ensure that the key recommendations of the official public inquiry are fully implemented."

Responding to the experience of the event, one delegate stated that it was "intellectually stimulating and thought-provoking, politically-engaged, affecting and timely."

In addition to the symposium, Tahera Aziz has an art installation at the Bermondsey Project gallery based on the Stephen Lawrence murder case that seeks to challenge audiences through sound. The installation encourages the audience to generate their own mental images of events which "provides a creative mechanism for deepening audience engagement with the complex and multi-layered narratives associated with the case".

 
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