DPhil student Mimi Goodall
was an original member of the Nice Cup of Tea
project which used the idea of a cup of tea to tell the stories of the legacies of colonialism. It was a joint venture between the university, the Ashmolean museum and local community groups which embedded the story of tea, sugar, and empire into Oxford's past. Reflecting on the original project Mimi writes:
The Nice Cup of Tea project is an important demonstration of the ways in which empire appeared, and was normalised, in British homes. It shows us that something as simple and as putatively 'British' as a cup of tea is inextricably intertwined with the histories of the human trafficking and mass-enslavement that underpinned the sugar industry, and the corruption and violence which secured access to tea.
A cup of tea is a microcosm of the ways in which the imperial and colonial found their way into the domestic. The legacies of which can still be seen and felt today. I was really enthusiastic to be a part of the project, particularly because it puts Oxford's relationship with empire front and centre: from the Codrington Library, built from the profits of slavery, to the ongoing protest against Cecil Rhodes' statue. The project was also created as part of the Oxford Windrush Group, which was set up to commemorate the arrival of the Windrush in 1948 and to celebrate those immigrants and their families, particularly those with an Oxford connection.
A Nice Cup of Tea used the social function of the tea party to reveal Britain's multi-layered history of imperial exploitation. The project combined historical research with community activism and storytelling to unravel the impact of empire on our everyday lives. It was a superb example of collaboration and I'm delighted that it has found a permanent home online.
Explore the Nice Cup of Tea exhibition here.
If you would like to contribute to this online exhibition, follow this link.