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.