This summer, the death of George Floyd refocused issues of systemic racism and inequality with urgency and visceral clarity, provoking outcry across the world. Anti-racism now sits atop a worldwide platform and headlines institutional agendas.
Critical race theorists, thought-leaders and activists press that reform must take place at every level of society and, at Durham University’s School of Modern Languages and Cultures, this begins with our student body and the newly established Decolonising MLAC Working and Research Groups.
While the Working Group commits to decolonisation and to combating all forms of marginalisation in the workplace and classroom, this Research Group emphasises the need for a critical and creative space that considers, primacy, race, power and resistance. The group promotes dialogue and collaboration between undergraduates, postgraduates and established researchers, as well as speakers and contributors from academic and non-academic circles.
This Research Group is unique in being led by postgraduate students and in its central concern with pedagogical and institutional reform. To this end, we maintain a constant dialogue with the Working Group and endeavour to make critically informed suggestions and generate solutions towards our fundamentally shared aims and objectives. The Research Group will provide a platform for a series of speakers, from within and outside of traditional academia concerned with colonialism in our educational institutions and as a key issue in society today.
Here, participants can engage in productive conversations with those speakers and propose action-based solutions in collaboration with the Working Group. We also organise a reading group, where a diverse, open-sourced reading list of texts, poems, films and art pieces are explored and discussed through a critical and decolonial lens.
In addition, a writing group will offer a creative and constructive environment for the expression of ideas and the formulation of texts that address central questions in critical-race literature and theory. We also plan to undertake collaborations with other research groups, notably those concerned with environmental and gender issues, as we recognise and affirm an intersectional framework to address inequality.
Decolonising MLAC will require a relationship of support and solidarity between the Working and Research Groups in order to realise systemic change. Together, we are dedicated to the creation and establishment of a truly global and representative curriculum, and a fully inclusive scholastic environment here at MLAC and, hopefully beyond.