In our globalised and multicultural world, “diversity” is a given. Decolonisation is not. Our curricula should reflect and represent a plethora of voices and perspectives, but they don’t. Here at Oxford, the scholars we are taught to admire and emulate in our work overwhelmingly come from a narrow identity and this produces a narrow understanding of the world. Institutionally, the voices of people of colour are written out of academia; working-class voices, trans voices, and female voices are silenced. This silencing – on our reading lists, in our tutorials – is a violent form of erasure. N.B. A token mention of Edward Said’s ‘Orientalism’ does not constitute a decolonised curriculum!
Common Ground want to explore what it means to have our curricula dominated by the white, western, European male gaze, and work out how to shatter the suffocating paradigm it creates.
★ SPEAKERS ★
ANKHI MUKHERJEE. Ankhi Mukherjee is Professor of English and World Literatures at Oxford. She is the author of two books, Aesthetic Hysteria: The Great Neurosis in Victorian Melodrama and Contemporary Fiction (2007) and What Is a Classic? Postcolonial Rewriting and Invention of the Canon (2014), which won the British Academy prize for English Literature in 2015. She has edited two volumes, A Concise Companion to Psychoanalysis, Literature, and Culture (2014) and After Lacan (forthcoming, 2017). Her current book project examines the relevance of psychoanalysis for the psychic maladies of the urban poor in global and postcolonial cities.
EDEN BAILEY (CHAIR). Eden is currently Vice-President for Access and Academic Affairs at Oxford University Students’ Union. Her academic work has focused on the achievements of women of colour in music history. She is interested in the impact of curriculum design on racism, and has campaigned for curriculum decolonisation. As Vice Present of OUSE, she has helped to found the new Class Act Campaign and pushed for improvements to access/admissions for BME students.
MELZ OWUSU. Melz Owusu is a recent graduate of Philosophy and Politics from the University of Leeds, and now serves as the Education Officer at Leeds University Union, pioneering the ‘Why is My Curriculum White?’ campaign on campus. Melz is also an artist, using much of her spare time to write and perform Grime music. Recently, she headlined at the ‘gal-dem’ takeover over at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. She is deeply passionate about imaging new forms of knowledge, new ways of being and becoming, and believes that a transformative education system is one key way of achieving this.