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Beyond utopian acts decolonising utopia - jan etienne

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Today, after decades of race equality legislation in the UK, we still find ‘less than 1% of University professors are black’. To add to this, black students are at the lowest proportion of UK students graduating with a first or second class honours degree. What does this say about the challenges faced by black staff working in Higher education? Can we imagine a different world?

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Beyond utopian acts decolonising utopia - jan etienne

  1. 1. Decolonising Utopia Sisters, challenge and community: Thinking radical womanist solidarity inside the Academy Jan Etienne: j.etienne@bbk.ac.uk 1
  2. 2. Utopia as method Panel Presenter: Dr Jan Etienne 1st September 2018 Jan Etienne: j.etienne@bbk.ac.uk 2
  3. 3. Imagine the Academy……. • Can we imagine an academy unique from the tensions and manifestations of past and current racial hatred which stand in the way of progress and change for people of colour? • This utopia is not naive but hugely possible through Womanist activism www.learninginwomanistways.com Jan Etienne: j.etienne@bbk.ac.uk 3
  4. 4. A different world • Today, after decades of race equality legislation in the UK, we still find ‘less than 1% of University professors are black’. To add to this, black students are at the lowest proportion of UK students graduating with a first or second class honours degree. What does this say about the challenges faced by black staff working in Higher education? Can we imagine a different world? Jan Etienne: j.etienne@bbk.ac.uk 4
  5. 5. Decolonising the Curriculum • How can we decolonise and diversify the curriculum and mitigate the damaging effects of Colonialism and Imperialism? • http://www.bbk.ac.uk/cscthe/projects/decol onising-page Jan Etienne: j.etienne@bbk.ac.uk 5
  6. 6. Possible futures • Utopia encourages us to think differently, systemically, and concretely about possible futures - imagining an entirely different society, to break from the present (Levitas, 2017). Jan Etienne: j.etienne@bbk.ac.uk 6
  7. 7. Womanist community activism • The radical womanist (black feminist) is interested in challenging racism in education and in promoting learning through political activism. 'Womanist learning' (Etienne 2016) - a black feminist approach in education and learning, depicts the ways in which older black women learn whilst at the same time locating their learning in the heart of their communities. In this way Womanist learning becomes synonymous with community activism as the women find ways to help build stronger, local communities and rise above past and current oppression. Jan Etienne: j.etienne@bbk.ac.uk 7
  8. 8. Utopian Acts and gendered lives • Learning in Womanist Ways: Narratives of first-generation African Caribbean women London: UCL Institute of Education Press: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Learning- Womanist-Ways-Narratives- generation/dp/1858567785 Jan Etienne: j.etienne@bbk.ac.uk 8
  9. 9. Womanist Activism • Taking steps to tackle the under- representation of black women in British feminist research Jan Etienne: j.etienne@bbk.ac.uk 9
  10. 10. #BlackWomenHE • Womanist solidarity brings black women in HE together with community activists (often not in education), to help transform and decolonise our minds to tackle issues of critical concern impacting on the black community and to celebrate black success in education. Jan Etienne: j.etienne@bbk.ac.uk 10
  11. 11. Speaking up for community Jan Etienne: j.etienne@bbk.ac.uk 11
  12. 12. Black feminist thought • Patricia Hill Collins acknowledges that ‘Developing Black feminist thought involves searching for its expression in alternative institutional locations and among women who are not commonly perceived as intellectuals’ (Collins: 2000:17). Jan Etienne: j.etienne@bbk.ac.uk 12
  13. 13. Jan Etienne: j.etienne@bbk.ac.uk 13
  14. 14. Higher Education, Activism and Change • The involvement of black women inside the academy, engaged in activism and in decolonizing higher education, expresses a utopian desire for a better way of living and of being. What is the nature of this utopia? Jan Etienne: j.etienne@bbk.ac.uk 14
  15. 15. References • Etienne J, (2016) Learning in Womanist Ways, NARRATIVES OF First- generation African Caribbean women, UCL/Trentham Books • Collins, P.H (1990) Black feminist thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the practice of empowerment, Boston, Unwin- Hyman • Levitas, R (2017) Where there is no vision, the people perish: a utopian ethic for a transformed future, Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity, University of Surrey • Image sources: https://www.thoughtco.com/womens-liberation- movement-3528926 - https://municipaldreams.wordpress.com/2017/11/14/the- broadwater-estate-tottenham-part-ii/ - (1/9/18) Jan Etienne: j.etienne@bbk.ac.uk 15

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