đź“ťConference Notes #2: Decolonise UCK Conference

đź“ťConference Notes #2: Decolonise UCK Conference, March

The POC2 team attend different conferences regarding diversity and try to take as best notes as they can. The “Conference notes” series is a summary of these events and are comprised of: any topics that they found interesting, talking points and/or links to resources that were mentioned.

The Decolonise UKC conference was an event held on 20th March 2019 at the University of Kent. The students in the Kent Law School were launching their #DecoloniseUKC Manifesto using data collected through: focus group cafes with students, discussing their experiences of belonging and in/ex-clusion in the classroom and on campus. Specific themes covered included: ableism and racialisation, international students’ experiences, minoritised religion and PREVENT as well as decolonising the curriculum more generally.

More information can be found on the event page here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/decoloniseukc-conference-tickets-56327896254?aff=eemailordconf&utm_campaign=order_confirm&utm_medium=email&ref=eemailordconf&utm_source=eb_email&utm_term=viewevent#, their website: https://decoloniseukc.org/ and their twitter: @DecoloniseUKC

The following are the notes I took throughout the day. Hopefully they can inspire further thought and discussion on the topics raised. Scans of my notes can be downloaded here: [DOWNLOAD] and any other resources will be linked throughout.

Roundtable

A book entitled “Common Cause Research” was passed around during this and is full of excellent information. Find it online here: https://www.commoncauseresearch.com/report/

  • Using Ethical Sources as researchers
  • Many attempts to decolonise curriculum are in the Arts/Humanities and are not inclusive of STEM subjects
  • In STEM fair/mutual research principles are needed
    • Paying people on time
    • Paying people what they are worth
  • Positionality
    • POC with western accents -> having to constantly deal with the reactions to the initial cognitive dissonance other have towards them
    • Avoid making assumptions of lived experiences -> not all black people have experienced the same things, not all asian people can relate to the same things etc…
    • Critical look at the use of POC/BME as a category
      • Institutionalising groups
      • Could lead to overuse of categories as opposed to listening to people’s lived experiences
      • Ethnic group vs race
  • Researchers tend to write about instead of writing with
    • Leads to dehumanisation of many groups
  • Universities treat EDI as a tick box exercise instead of actually trying to address issues
    • Stems from academic privilege
  • Speaking truth to power
    • E.G. Christchurch and how the media covered it by focusing on the prime minister and interviewing only the white people who converted to Islam
      • Little coverage of the actual brown people targeted
      • No coverage of the other POC who converted to Islam and were present during the attacks
  • Speak up + speak out
    • Social media is an excellent and effective platform for outreach
  • Exclusivity of academic conferences
    • Creates class barriers it is extremely costly to attend – especially for self funded students
  • Take steps to employ people from the communities you’re studying and not just send researchers to these places
    • Foreign western researchers don’t know the socio-economic climates of the countries they’re studying
  • Speak up but only in the parameters of self care
  • Student success projects for BME
    • Structures to close the BME attainment gaps
  • Attainment gap has existed as long as their have been western universities
  • Uncious bias
    • People favour those who look like themselves
    • Micro-Affirmations towards white students as well as Micro-Aggressions towards BME lead to double deficits
    • BME attainment gap is a social deficit, higher achievers are implied to not needing to do anything and disadvantaged students are expected to do even more on top of already being systematically behind
      • Universities systematically advantage certain types of students
  • BME term lumps all POC together
    • Implies the world is “half white and half and half coloured” when each race is their own equal ethnic group with their own unique beliefs, cultures and traditions (and should be treated as such).
  • Long term effects of racial harassment
    • BME dropping out of academia
    • Mental health issues
    • Attainment gap
  • Researcher/research power structures
    • Research in 3rd world settings
    • Research is not always wanted – researchers tend to act as if they are doing the research group a favour
    • Academic sightseeing
    • Assumed welcoming of western scientist in non-western countries
    • Researcher is assumed a leader in the field when the people in the researched region – who more often than not have better knowledge through lived experiences – are ignored
    • Colonial history of research
  • Dismissiveness of academics
    • Do not entertain anything outside of subject of study -> STEM
    • Difficulty in BME in trying to vocalise and legitimise these vague feeling of unease when study in these fields is almost always dismissed
      • Work put on the marginalised groups
  • Applying initiatives across all schools in a university

DUKC Manifesto

Their full manifesto can be found + downloaded here: https://decoloniseukc.org/manifesto/

  • Have academics assess the colour of their curriculum
  • Belonging/identity in the community
  • BME attainment gap only appears post 16 as this is when a student goes from being marked nationally to being marked internally (https://www.ecu.ac.uk/guidance-resources/student-recruitment-retention-attainment/student-attainment/degree-attainment-gaps/)
    • Allows for bias – whether unconscious or not – to have significant effects
  • Cultural competence training being mandatory for staff
  • Colonial Britain flourished off of the back of colonial occupation and death
  • Universities must transform unjust spaces not just spread self care tips to survive unjust spaces
  • POC struggle with being “the first and only” in spaces fundamentally not designed for them
  • POC struggle with the short termidness of decolonial projects
    • Universities do not continue with work when main BME leading it leaves
    • Funding issues tends to end diversity projects when long term solutions are needed
  • Only way to critically address + inhabit toxic places is through everyday transformations and practises

For more information on conferences we’ve attended please visit our resources page or read through the rest of our blog. We are constantly updating both.

Written by Karel Green. For more information see the about page or follow her on Twitter @thisismeonline.

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