By John Harrington and Lizzy Willmington

The SLSA UK Annual Conference 2021 will be hosted by Cardiff University School of Law and Politics from 30th March to 1st April. Complementing the programme rich with presentations from around the globe, we have created a ‘Resources’ page on the conference platform, with exhibitions on the radical history of a global Wales and the contribution of law and legal scholarship to these struggles. Each brings to life the themes of our conference plenaries and roundtables: resilience, resistance and reform.

Our opening plenary on Human Rights, Social Justice and COVID-19  (13:30 – 15:00 Tuesday 30th  March) looks to the present moment and our future as citizens and scholars in the aftermath of the pandemic. Senedd Cymru (the Welsh Parliament) enshrined a legal commitment to sustainable development in the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, the first of its kind. This global engagement at national and local level is explored in a report of the Learned Society of Wales on ‘Wales and the World’.

Two exhibitions foreground a rich and controversial history of Cardiff and Wales as an international place with long histories of communities of colour, which will be explored in the Race, Place and Nation in the UK roundtable (13:30-14:30 Wednesday 31st  March). The 1919 ‘Race Riots’ in Cardiff’s Tiger Bay/ Butetown district are vividly brought to life in an immersive digital graphic novel, ‘Riots Redrawn’ by Butetown artist Kyle Legall. A special presentation of letters, census forms, and photographs by The National Archives (UK) gives a unique insight into the lives and concerns of Butetown residents at the time and the reaction to the riots in Britain and the Caribbean. Cardiff was a diverse and globally connected port in 1919.

Our plenary lecture Socio-Legal Studies in a Time of Emergency (10:45 – 11:45 Thursday 1st  April) will take a reflective step as well as a look to the future of our discipline and the role of the law school and socio-legal studies. Edited from Cardiff since its foundation in 1974, the Journal of Law and Society has a proud history of supporting socio-legal research and the SLSA, a review of which can be found in the resources space. Articles have been selected from 1974 to 2021 for presentation and discussion in relation to the special Journal of Law and Society stream within the conference programme, which are available to access until 15th April.

The closing roundtable on Decolonising the Law School: Lessons from the work of Paul Robeson (14:30-16:00 Thursday 1st  April) is complemented by the digitised exhibition ‘Let Paul Robeson Sing’ which we are hosting in collaboration with the South Wales Miners’ Library, Swansea University and the Paul Robeson Wales Trust. The exhibition highlights Robeson’s early experiences of discrimination in the legal profession in the United States, his subsequent artistic career as an actor and singer, his work in supporting and connecting international struggles of oppression and his deep cultural connection to Wales and his place in the mining community through showcasing photos, news clippings and personal recollections.

The history of struggle for social and racial justice and gender equality in Wales is documented by a special presentation of rare and unique items in the Cardiff University Special Collections . Archivist Sara Huws guides us through a unique items including, ‘Slavery in the United States of America: Personal Narrative of the Sufferings and Escape of William A. Hall’.  This self-authored pamphlet from 1862 details Hall’s experiences of enslavement and eventual escape from the American south to Cardiff and is only one of two extant copies worldwide.

A rebellious history of slow design and slow production is told through the intricately making of a silk and print book, beautifully decorated with The Floure and the Leafe and printed by William Morris’ famous Kelmscott Press. A utopian thinker and designer Morris fought to break down class barriers and enrich the lives of all through art. There is a rare opportunity to listen to the Ballad of Richard Lewis and to see the original ballad sheet which tells the story of the Merthyr Uprisings of 1831, part of the Chartist movement for political and industrial justice. Better known as Dic Penderyn, Lewis was executed in an infamous miscarriage of justice. A story of survival, the banner of the Cardiff and District Women’s Suffrage Society tells the story of the resistance to the Women’s suffrage movement and a quick-thinking suffragette. Finally, the Tom Hopkinson Archive gives complex insights into personal papers of the journalist and editor, who most famously brought apartheid-era crimes to wider audiences in the west through his collaboration with Black South African journalists and photographers.

As the first SLSA conference online we are excited to be able to welcome people from all around the world to Wales and wish to show case our global story and approach both historical and today. We are grateful to the artists and contributors for allowing us to share these resources and exhibits with you.

Welcome to Cardiff SLSA 2021! Creoso mawr i bawb!