Past Matters 2016

Events for 2016:

‘Genocide’ Screening and Director’s Talk (3rd Feb)

Chinese Wartime Science Through the Lens of Joseph Needham (6-7 Feb)

British Railways in Colombia (4th March)

‘Genocide’ Screening and Director’s Talk

Wednesday 3 February, 6:15 PM to 7:45 PM | University of Bristol, Priory Road Lecture Theatre – Woodland Road, Bristol (BS8 1TH)


A free screening of the ground-breaking ‘Genocide’ episode from the TV series ‘The World at War’ with an introduction from, and after-screening conversation with, the director, Michael Darlow. This event was part of the annual Past Matters Festival of History.

Speakers: Michael Darlow, Tim Cole

Admission: Free, booking required in advance via Eventbrite page

For Further Information: Email: | Telephone: +44 (0)117 331 8313

Chinese Wartime Science Through the Lens of Joseph Needham

February 6-7, 11 AM to 4 PM | Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, Queens Road, Bristol (BS8 1RL)

NeedhamThe ‘Chinese Wartime Science Through the Lens of Joseph Needham’ exhibition appeared at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery as part of its Chinese New Year celebrations over the weekend of 6-7 February from 10am to 4pm. The exhibition was part of a digitisation and engagement project between the University of Bristol and the Needham Research Institute, sponsored by the British Inter-University China Centre.

In early 1943, British biochemist Joseph Needham arrived in China, sponsored by the British Council to support scientific research and teaching in country torn apart by its war with Japan. Over the next four years, Needham criss-crossed ‘Free China’ building links with the country’s scientific community, bringing them much needed supplies and equipment, as well as facilitating the exchange and publication of their research overseas. He visited factories built underground to avoid Japanese bombing to laboratories, libraries, and classrooms rehoused in disused temples and even mud huts as academic institutions fled westward ahead of invading troops.

Dr. Needham kept detailed dairies and took over 1,000 photographs during his travels.

‘Chinese Wartime Science’ drew on this collection of material to provide a unique window on life in wartime China.

Admission: Free, no need to book or register in advance

For Further Information: See the website about the Chinese New Year celebrations at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery or call the museum at 0117 922 3571

British Railways in Colombia: A Reinterpretation of the Utility of British Investment in the Colombian Railway Sector

Friday 4 March, 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM | Universidad del Norte, Barranquilla Colombia


The IEEC at the Universidad del Norte Barranquilla in collaboration with the University of Bristol hosted a seminar on the history of British railway companies in Colombia. The seminar questioned the traditional historiographical interpretation of limited utility of the railway through analysis of novel sources from the London Stock Exchange archive at the Guildhall Library in London. The data presented at the seminar stimulated discussion on whether British economic imperialism from a Latin American context should be considered a mutually beneficial relationship or one based on exploitative monopolies. The paper showed how certain national political policies encouraged local monopolies whilst others encouraged railway network development, and how reactions to both were based on economic rationality rather than imperial policy.

Speakers: Andrew Primmer, William Rafael Baca Mejia

Admission: Free

For Further Information: Email: