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Annual Black History Month Conference: Building the Antiracist University (BAU): Next Steps


Date: 18 October 2013
Location: University of Leeds

The introduction of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 for the first time placed a statutory duty on HEIs in the UK to eliminate racial discrimination and promote racial equality. In many institutions there was a knowledge vacuum and little guidance on how to move forward. Stimulating institutional change towards the construction of the Antiracist University was the aim of the Centre for Ethnicity and Racism Studies (CERS) toolkit, which was concerned to develop a maximal, transformative approach to institutional change, rather than a minimal meeting of legal obligations. Over 300 HEIs established racial equality schemes by 2008 and improved experiences and opportunities in this sector, particularly for black and minority ethnic students are evident (National Students Survey 2002-2012, HEFCE 2012). However, progress in this field has slowed and a focus on the goals of eliminating racial discrimination, promoting racial equality and engendering change in organisational culture as well as approaches to curriculum and pedagogy has dissipated so that building the antiracist university remains urgent in 2013.

This interdisciplinary, international conference invites contributions from HEI equality and diversity practitioners, trade unionists and academics in the areas of:

  1. Institutional whiteness: How is it produced and reproduced through affect, structures and processes? How might it be resisted and transformed?
  2. Transforming organizational cultures: What are the challenges of such transformation? What are the conflicts and contradictions of transforming HEIs ‘from within’? Are our efforts always destined to be turned into another managerial process? What role does intersectionality play in transforming organizational cultures?
  3. The Black and minority ethnic (BME) presence and experience in HEIs: how can we best map the presence and experiences of BME staff and students? Can we draw in meaningful ways on these experiences to produce change in HEIs’ approaches to curriculum, pedagogy, recruitment, retention and progression?
  4. Developing curriculum interventions: what can be done to enable anti-racism within a context of professional autonomy, disciplinary inertia and organizational resistance?
  5. Widening participation and organizational change: What does widening participation mean in the context of anti-racism? Should anti-racism be a part of the outcomes of higher education curricula?
  6. Future directions for racial equality and diversity in a post-race era; what are the implications and symptoms of ‘post-race’ for HEIs? What impact does ‘post-race’ have on the possibility for the development of anti-racist strategies?
  7. Other areas relevant to the conference theme.

We welcome contributions from a variety of disciplines, theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches, the products of academic research as well as activists’ and practitioners’ perspectives and reflections on this theme. We hope to publish a selection of papers from the conference either as a special issue in a refereed journal or an edited collection.


Conference organisers

Dr Shirley Tate and Dr Paul Bagguley, CERS, School of Sociology and Social Policy, The University of Leeds, UK.