Confronting the white institution

16th February 2016

News, Student news

Some 160 people attended Wadham's Race Symposium, filling the Holywell Music Room, to discuss the power structures of race.

  • Chi Chi Shi and Imaobong Umoren

    Chi Chi Shi and Imaobong Umoren (Photos by Hannah Riley)

  • Representation panel

    Representation panel

  • Justine McConnell

  • Curriculum panel

    Curriculum panel

  • Yuna Chang

    Yuna Chang

  • Elleke Boehmer, Natalya Din-Kariuki, Neelam Chhara, Miriam Kilimo and Sachin Croker

    Elleke Boehmer, Natalya Din-Kariuki, Neelam Chhara, Miriam Kilimo and Sachin Croker

  • Tarun Khaitan and Sachin Croker

    Tarun Khaitan and Sachin Croker

The Symposium, Confronting the White Institution, was a student led event exploring the position that universities and institutions occupy within power structures of race.

Attendees considered the ways that education can reinforce colonial powers and legacies, and how members of the university in all capacities can act to prevent or reverse this situation.

Discussion also explored how ‘whiteness’ manifests itself across the university, how it has come to be made invisible in the structures and spaces of the institution, and what we can do to expose and decolonise these practices.

Three panel discussions focussed on: Representation: is diversity enough?; Unlearning the white curriculum;  and Decolonising institutions: a 21st century problem.

A talk by Wadham Law Fellow Tarun Khaitan Baron Constantine to Shafic Essop: 70 years of Race and the Law was followed by a lively Q and A session. Nirmal Puwar, Reader in Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London made the keynote speech, Making Space: a consideration of how institutional spaces are taken, offered and occupied.

Organiser Yuna Chang (History, 2013) commented:"The Symposium sparked some really vibrant conversations that extended beyond Oxford to consider issues of race in higher education in general, as well as the role institutions play in wider societal contexts. We’re really excited to build on these productive changes, and hope that this is just the beginning of a sustained consideration of race and racism in educational bodies."

Thanks to event organisers Hannah Yu-Pearson (History, 2013), Yuna Chang and Sachin Croker (English, 2013), ably supported by Wadham's Tutor for Race Justine McConnell.