William Lez Henry is Professor of Criminology and Sociology in the School of Human and Social Sciences at University of West London. His areas of expertise are criminology, sociology, anthropology, race, education, ethnicity, youth crime and cultural studies. In addition to his academic career, Professor Henry is reggae Deejay Lezlee Lyrix , a writer, poet and community activist who has been interviewed extensively for television and radio.
Robbie Shilliam is Professor of International Relations in the Department of Political Science in the Kreiger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA. He researches the political and intellectual complicities of colonialism and race in the global order; was a co-founder of the Colonial/Postcolonial/Decolonial working group of the British International Studies Association and is a long-standing active member of the Global Development section of the International Studies Association. Over the past six years, Robbie has co-curated with community intellectuals and elders a series of exhibitions in Ethiopia, Jamaica and the UK, which have brought to light the histories and significance of the Rastafari movement for contemporary politics.
His work focuses on three strands of inquiry: firstly, a re-reading of classical political economy through its intimate relationship to Atlantic slavery, with a bearing towards contemporary controversies regarding “social conservatism”; secondly, a retrieval of Ethiopianism as a critical orientation towards global order, especially in terms of its cultivation of a tradition of anti-colonial anti-fascism from the 1930s onwards; and thirdly, South-South anti-colonial connections, especially between peoples of the African Diaspora and indigenous movements. Prof Shilliam is committed to building capacity in Political Science and International Relations for postcolonial teaching and learning.
Shirley Thompson, Professor of Music at the University of Westminster, is a distinguished composer, visionary artist and cultural activist who has composed extensively for television, film, theatre, dance and opera. Her music is performed and screened worldwide and often described as “superbe” (Le Figaro). A visionary artist and cultural activist, Thompson is the first woman in Europe to have composed and conducted a symphony within the last 40 years. New Nation Rising, A 21st Century Symphony performed and recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is an epic musical story celebrating London’s thousand-year history, and one in which the RPO is accompanied by two choirs, solo singers, a rapper and dhol drummers, a total of nearly 200 performers. This extraordinary work was originally commissioned to celebrate Her Majesty the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002 and the concept was latterly assumed as a framework for the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony. She has also composed extensively for TV/film, theatre, dance and opera production, always driven by the belief in the transformative power of music to affect social, cultural and political change an approach that has been unique in the genre.
Thompson’s musical experience began with her playing the violin for various youth symphony orchestras in London, as well as choral singing with local choirs in Newham. After studying Musicology at the University of Liverpool and then specialising in Composition at Goldsmiths’ College, her first major commission came from the Greenwich International Festival, when she composed a chamber orchestral work entitled Visions, performed by the Greenwich Ensemble.
Since her 2-Act opera, A Child of the Jago, Thompson has composed a number of music theatre works. The Woman Who Refused to Dance (2007)was specially commissioned for the opening of the Parliamentary exhibition, British Slave Trade: Abolition, Parliament and People. Spirit Songs (2007)an orchestral song-trilogy was performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre and to commemorate 100 days of Barack Obama’s presidency, Thompson was commissioned by South Bank Centre to compose Voice of Change (2009). The BBC Concert Orchestra Principals and vocal soloists performed this work.