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Towards Decolonising the University: A Kaleidoscope for Empowered Action

Authors: Decolonise University of Kent Collective, Eds: Dave S.P. Thomas and Suhraiya Jivraj

B & W 229 x 152 mm | Perfect Bound on White w/Matte Laminate | 204 pages | Paperback ISBN 978-1-910761-19-6 | E-book (PDF) ISBN N/A | 24 September 2020

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As part of the aim to amplify those otherwise silenced voices, particularly the range of experiences of students of colour in the academy, this collection is ground breaking in embodying what has been an ostensible and deliberate collaboration and co-production of knowledge between students and academics of colour. It was inspired by an institutionally funded research project in 2018-2019 ‘Decolonise the Curriculum’, at the University of Kent and presents a Kaleidoscope for Decolonising a university.

It operationalises conceptual thinking, fed into expressions of national and international student-led movements as well as others in the UK and elsewhere including: Why is my curriculum White?; Decolonise SOAS; Reclaim Harvard Law School (RHLS); #LeopoldMustFallQM; and Why isn’t my professor Black? What they have in common is that they seek to unveil colonialism, racism, sexism, ageism and its intersectional inequalities with other (protected) characteristics, whilst also doing the structural labour towards the utopia of dismantling white supremacy in the academy.

The success of this project lies in the unearthing of different formations of inequality in the academy. The perspectives presented in this book all share a common theme of decolonisation of the university. These are some of the reverberations that concern us. Our sincere hope is that it will inspire students to enact change no matter how small or large as part of their empowerment including hold their institutions to account to eliminate inequality and injustice in all formats.

This book shows us the power that comes when we refuse silencing, when we speak our truths through the pain inflicted by white supremacy and racism, when we acknowledge the need for BPOC solidarities in the struggle with which we are now faced in ‘post-race’, neo-liberal institutions. Now more than ever, we need the decolonial knowledge and praxis based on activism contained in this book.

— Shirley Anne Tate, Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Alberta

This book, emerging from the experiences and initiatives of students and staff at the University of Kent, provides a powerful resource for thinking through issues of social justice within the university context. It is a reflective contribution to the wider debates around ‘decolonising the university’ that also offers a variety of strategies and responses to the concerns raised.

— Gurminder K Bhambra , Professor of Postcolonial and Decolonial Studies,
School of Global Studies, University of Sussex

Towards Decolonising the University assumes the significance in 2020 that Paolo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed did in 1968 and in this it is impossible to overstate its power and importance. It gives fleshy substance to what, for some, has become a ‘woke’ slogan and a cynical institutional move to promote ‘diversity’, by staking out with clarity and vision that ‘decolonising’ demands much more than tinkering with reading lists or having a revolving door of junior level appointments of academics of colour.

— Dr Gail Lewis, Reader Emerita, Birkbeck College, University of London

table of contents

Preface (Professor Toni Williams)

Introduction: The Dissonant State of Affairs in the Academy and the Audacity of a Kaleidoscope for Change (Dave S.P. Thomas and Dr. Suhraiya Jivraj)

Section I

1. A Manifesto for Change (Decolonise University of Kent Collective)

Section II

2. Decolonising Keynes: Between Memory and History (Anamika Misra)

Section III

3. Zine-Making for Anti-Racist Learning and Action (BARC Collective)
4 . Decolonising the University of Kent: Where It Still Must Go and What It Still Must Be (Dave S.P. Thomas)
5. Doing Diversity Work with Students (Dr Barbara Adewumi)
6. Decolonising the University: A Movement that Must Look to History, and Remain Radical (Dr Remi Joseph-Salisbury)
7. Racialised Inequitable Exclusion and Educability: Reflections from a Black Professor (Professor Lez Henry)

Section IV

8. British Values (Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan)

Section V

9. Podcast as Powerful Pedagogy (Ahmed Memon, Joy Olugbo yega and Dr Francesca Sobande)
10. Stripping the White Walls: The Podcast  (Ahmed Memon and Joy Olugboyega)

Section VI

11, The Elephant in the Room: Conversations with Muslim Women (Wahida Ahmed)
12. Race, Religion and the Male Experience: Intersectional Conversations with Muslim Men  (Ahmed Memon)
13. Two C’s and a D to a First-Class Degree: Conversations with Black Men (Anthony Otobo-Martins)
14. Student Collectives Working for Change: International Reflections (Jasmyn Sargeant)
15. Intersections of Inequality: Reflections on Faith, Race and Belonging (Hezhan Kader)
16. Student-Staff Collaboration in Decolonising Reading Lists: Reflections from Change Agents (Evangeline Agyeman and Collins Konadu-Mensah)
17. The Audacity to Occupy Spaces and Contribute to Knowledge (Lisa Shoko)
18. Empowered Voices in Research: The Road to the Forum on Ethics of Research (Ahmed Raza Memon)

Section VII

19. Decolonising the University — Success, Pitfalls and Next Steps (Dr Suhraiya Jivraj)

Section VIII

20. Letter to the 1% (Lowkey)

Conclusions (Dr Jason Arday)

Afterword (Professor Heidi Safia Mirza)

editors bios

Dave S.P. Thomas is an Occupational Therapist and Public Health Specialist, with a remit in social justice. He is currently reading for a PhD in higher education. His research focuses on the impact of Westernized ontologies, epistemologies, and pedagogy in shaping educational trajectories, achievement, and interest for racially minoritized students in higher education. Dave is currently employed as a diversity and inclusion practitioner at the University of Kent, where he works as a Student Success and Attainment Manager. He is a consultant to AdvanceHE on race, inclusion and equality, and a member of the Health and Care Professions Council diversity forum. He has published research in the areas or ‘race’, inequality, occupational justice, and social justice. He is the editor of Doing Equity and Diversity for Success in Higher Education, Palgrave Macmillan 2020Dave tweets as @DaveThomasOT

Dr Suhraiya Jivraj is Reader in Law and Social Justice. She is author of ‘Interrogating Law’s Religion: Race, Citizenship and Children’s Belonging’ (Social and Legal Studies Series, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and co-editor of Decolonizing Sexualities: Transnational Perspectives, Critical Interventions (Counterpress, 2016). Her work draws inspiration from and contributes to critical race/religion studies as well as gender and sexuality debates in de-colonial studies. Most recently she has collaborated with students on a ‘Decolonising the Curriculum’ project and is author of the Socio-Legal Studies Association funded: Towards a Legal Anti-racist Pedagogy: A Resource (2020).

how to cite

Example using Chicago Manual of Style:


Dave S.P. Thomas and Shuraiya Jivraj, eds., Towards Decolonising the University: A Kaleidosope for Empowerd Action (Oxford: Counterpress 2020).


Thomas, Dave S.P., and Suhraiya Jivraj, eds. Towards Decolonising the University: A Kaleidosope for Empowerd Action. (Oxford: Counterpress, 2020).