Gus John

KEYNOTE SPEAKER - Wednesday 29th August

Gus John

We are delighted to announce the second confirmed keynote speaker at Conference: Professor Augustine (Gus) John. Gus will deliver the opening keynote address to Conference on the morning of Wednesday 29 August.

Gus was born in Grenada, Eastern Caribbean, in 1945. He moved to the UK in 1964 and lives in Cardiff. He is an award-winning writer, education campaigner, consultant, lecturer and researcher. He is best known for his work in education policy, management and international development, along with social audits, change management, policy formulation and review, and programme evaluation and development. Since the 1960s he has been active in issues of education and schooling in Britain's inner cities such as Manchester, Birmingham and London, and he was the first black Director of Education and Leisure Services in Britain. He has also worked in a number of universities, including (very appropriately for this year’s Conference) as visiting Professor of Education at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. He has also been an associate professor of education and honorary fellow of the London Centre for Leadership in Learning at the UCL Institute of Education and visiting professor at Coventry University.

Gus is passionate about people and records, notably the key role of archives and records in shaping and defining modern Britain and their significant contribution to the recording and conservation of post-war British social history, even as it is being made.

Gus will focus in his keynote on what he calls ‘cultural enclaves’ within society that continue to be insulated from changes in the demographic, social, political and economic landscape (what the George Padmore Institute has called Changing Britannia) and this includes the relative invisibility of such enclaves and the people who live in them in our archives and public record offices. So, for anyone concerned with diversity, effective outreach, responding to social change and improving community relevance, Gus’s keynote is an unmissable opportunity. Prepare to be challenged and to hear new perspectives and new ideas.


Michelle Caswell

KEYNOTE SPEAKER - Thursday 30th August

Michelle Caswell

We announced last month that Michelle Caswell, Assistant Professor of Archival Studies at the University of California Los Angeles, will be our first keynote speaker at Conference. Michelle’s keynote will address the theme: Now More Than Ever:  Community Archives and the Political Urgency of Memory Work. She will focus on data from focus groups of users of five different community archives sites and explore how members of marginalised communities view archives as potential means of restorative identity and justice.

Across communities and identities, Michelle’s research has revealed that users of community archives see them as potential spaces to connect past injustice with contemporary activism and future opportunities and see their own involvement in archives as a way of building confidence and challenging their own sense of oppression. Caswell will argue that archivists should support individuals and groups in these communities pro-actively, go beyond the standard archival practice of diverse collecting and inclusive description and become more active agents of change.



KEYNOTE SPEAKER - Friday 31st August

Martyn Sibley

In keeping with this year’s theme of ‘People Make Records’, we are delighted to announce the third Conference keynote speaker, Martyn Sibley.

Martyn is one of the UK’s most prominent activists and advocates for disabled people. Describing himself as ‘…a regular guy who happens to have a disability called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA)’ - which means that he cannot walk, lift anything heavier than a book or shower himself - Martyn is nonetheless an entrepreneur, an author and generally dedicated to pushing the boundaries wherever and whenever he finds them.

A tireless optimist and positive thinker, Martyn runs Disability Horizons: check out the extraordinary range of activities and issues he addresses at He is also the author of the inspiring book, ‘Everything is Possible’, which details his global travels to places like Mexico, Catalonia, what he experienced and how he overcame barriers: it is both amusing and revealing in equal measure. He also happens to have a degree in economics and a masters in marketing.

For anyone seeking to better understand and serve the disabled community, which should be all of us, Martyn is a ‘must-hear’ at this year’s Conference, and we feel fortunate and privileged that he has agreed to join us. He will pepper us with ideas on how to rethink our approach to disability and how we engage disabled people as individuals and as a community, addressing issues such as accessibility, creativity and inclusion. Look out for more details in the next edition of ARC magazine.