Addressing Imperial Nostalgia and Commemorations of the 1924 British Empire Exhibition.

The ‘Naming Pains’ campaign is a focused effort to address the ongoing celebration and memorialisation of British imperialism, particularly as it pertains to the 1924 British Empire Exhibition. This campaign critically examines the practice of commemorating historical events, individuals, or buildings through place-naming, understanding it as a form of honour that inadvertently perpetuates a romanticised and contested narrative in Wembley’s history.

The importance of this initiative is underscored by the diversity of the London Borough of Brent, which houses one of Britain’s most culturally diverse communities. This diversity stands in stark contrast to the painful legacy of British imperialism - a legacy marked by exploitation and suffering. Lord Woolley CBE encapsulates this sentiment, stating:

“For many, including me, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, to revere about the empire. It means slavery, murder, theft, barbaric cruelty and colonialism. We cannot and must not attempt to erase our history, but we can choose which parts we put on a pedestal.”

A central objective of the campaign is to confront and diminish the imperial nostalgia prevalent among urban professionals and stakeholders who have been instrumental in shaping Wembley. By promoting a more critical understanding of historical events, the campaign seeks to challenge prevailing narratives.

A key strategy in this endeavour is the retroactive renaming of streets, open spaces, and buildings that currently honour the 1924 British Empire Exhibition. This renaming process is not just symbolic; it is a vital step in acknowledging the complex layers of history and the far-reaching impact of colonialism.
Summary of Imperial Commemorations:

Additionally, the campaign seeks to highlight the raison d’être of the 1924 British Empire Exhibition, exploring its role in promoting British imperialist agendas. Aiming to deepen collective understanding of the event’s implications and to foster a more nuanced view of British imperialism’s legacy.

In summary, the ‘Naming Pains’ campaign is a significant movement that challenges the glorification of empire, advocating for a more informed and critical understanding of the past.

Summary of Commemorations & Landowner:

More information can be found on: @naming.pains

Naming Pains (Paperback) Naming Pains offers an insightful exploration into the profound impact of the 1924 British Empire Exhibition on the urban planning and cultural memory of Wembley Park. This book delves into the historical context of the Exhibition, scrutinising the commemorative practices that continue to shape the area’s landscape today. 

It challenges readers to reconsider the implications of imperial nostalgia embedded in Wembley’s streets, buildings, and public spaces, advocating for a post-imperial city that acknowledges and rectifies the oppressive legacies of colonialism.

A4 (297mm x 210mm), 70pp

Please allow for 7 to 10 days for dispatch.

Press Coverage

An urbanist who ‘decolonises’ London. Until the ‘history of domination’ embedded in place names is unraveled”, IDEAS FOR GOOD JAPAN (2023) —

Talks & Workshops
ABOUTBy day, Nabil Al-Kinani is a built-environment professional with a keen interest in urbanism, placemaking, sustainable development and place vision. By night, he is a writer and cultural producer that uses creative practice to deliver changemaking projects that draw focus on the relationship between spaces and stories. Other strands of his work includes the exploration of spatial politics, identity, culture and migration.