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Research Network : Contested Sites

01 Sep 2023-29 Mar 2024

Contested Sites is a research series that investigates events, perspectives and languages in recent canonised history beyond the borders of place, position and memory.

Stuart Hall writes in essay Constituting the Archive the importance of the meticulous task of creating Black and Asian diaspora archives as an informal act of messaging the future to say, ‘we were here and we did this’.

To contest is to dispute, question and oppose an object of contention by the act of calling to witness. Continuing Stuart Hall’s ideas around testifying to history and re-affirming existence, Contested Sites is a research series that investigates events, perspectives and languages in recent canonised history beyond the borders of place, position and memory.

Recognising the multiple ways in which histories hold multiple contested narratives, we embark on a journey to consider archives, bodies, institutions and geographies, whether material or digital, as sites for future histories.

The Research Network is a space that brings together curators, writers, artists and creatives to share their ongoing research in dialogue with others. For this year’s Research Network, we invited Research Associates Orsod Malik, Meera Shakti Osborne, Gary Stewart and Lamya Sadiq to think through the following research question(s):

  • How is memory contested considering geographical concepts?
  • How can the constitution of the body be contested?
  • How can we practically shift historical narratives around archives?
  • How contested pasts inform institutional futures?

iniva’s Research Network is supported by Arts Council England and Freelands Foundation.


Orsod Malik is a UK-based Sudani curator, writer, content producer and digital strategist. He is the founder of @code__switch an archive/continuum of radical internationalism dedicated to drawing links between anticolonial struggles and thought across space and time. Orsod’s curatorial practice focuses on developing methods to explore cultural and political entanglements found in the materials he works with. Orsod is the Curator and Digital Strategist at the International Curators Forum, and was the 2021 Archivist-in-Resident at the Library of Africa and the African Diaspora (LOATAD).  Orsod is the SHF’s Programme Curator.

Meera Shakti Osborne is an interdisciplinary art practitioner, youth worker and community organiser. Meera’s work focuses on collective healing through creative self-expression. Their practice engages with accessibility and confidence building for marginalised people in both formal education settings and casual encounters.

Based in London Meera is interested in the use of art as a tool to create historical documents that represent feelings and the in-between stuff that often gets left out of history making. They work in soundscapes, digital media, oil paint, textile, breathing, talking and dancing. Meera has worked with Nottingham Contemporary, iniva, Newbridge Project, Royal College of Art, Peckham Platform, Focal Point Gallery, The Gap Arts Project, The Drawing Room and Reprezent FM. Meera graduated in Design at Central School of Speech and Drama in 2015 and Cairo Institute of Liberal Arts and Science in 2018.

Lamya Sadiq works across social histories, sonic and visual worlds and psychoanalytic theory to locate tools for other-world making. Her enquiries attempt to highlight the ambivalences of the present, searching for ruptures, portals and spectral hauntings that tells us these other worlds always exist/are possible. Lamya is from Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Lamya works at MayDay Rooms Archive and is a wellbeing worker for Hopscotch Women’s Center. She is also a member of Red Therapy, an abolitionist collective attempting to think beyond existing psychiatric and psychotherapeutic systems and practices.

Gary Stewart is an interdisciplinary artist whose work examines social and political issues of identity, culture, and technology. Operating through a range of theoretical, fictional, and artistic frames he is part of a global network of collaborators who are advocates for equality, climate justice and better health through the arts especially those from marginalised communities. Working at the intersection of sound, moving image and computational creativity his work traverse’s media art, experimental music, and research.

Between 1995-2010 he was Head of Multimedia at Iniva curating the digital programme including installations, exhibitions, public and online projects. Freelance since 2011, he is a founder member of London based research and performance group Dubmorphology and Artist Associate at People’s Palace Projects based at Queen Mary, University of London.

Dharma Taylor is a multidisciplinary designer and maker with a background specialising in menswear and textiles. She graduated from Rochester University for the creative arts with a BA in Fashion Design and the London College of Fashion with an MA in Menswear. She has developed her practice and explored working with new material, Dharma’s way of combining textiles with woodwork produces works of great beauty and deceptive simplicity.

Over the past few years through research-based projects, she has sought to observe aspects of the society and systems in which we exist. Inspired by diverse sources, from technology and poetry to ancient civilisations and cultural plurality.

Image caption:
in some far off place/many light years in space/i’ll wait for you.
By Lamya Sadiq dedicated to Sun Ra.
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