Sunday, August 9, 2020
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FACE 2020: Summary in Videos

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FACE 2020 held from the 22nd to the 26th of June 2020 as a series of online lunchtime talks. The theme was ‘Decolonisation, Intellectual Pan-Africanism and the Future of the Multiversity: Part I.’ It was well attended with a very engaged audience throughout.

Forever Africa Conference and Events (FACE) is a Pan-African initiative brought together by staff and students at the University of Bristol. You can read more about previous conferences and the aims of FACE here and here and here and here and here. More information about the speakers in the videos below can be found here.

Below is a video/photo summary of the 2020 event.

Video: Decolonising Decolonisation Discourse

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The central thrust of the message I hoped to convey in this 8-minute talk below, is that if universities are really concerned and committed to knowledge in the service of truth and justice, then that must lead them to an inevitable commitment to decolonisation that goes beyond numbers-diversity, surface-representation and perfomative inclusion. For the neoliberal university, this may feel like an impossible ask. But it should not be. Not if universities are to really mean something to the survival of all humanity.

The video is from a panel discussion I was involved in, which held on Thursday the 12th of December, 2019. The panel was titled, Preparing critical students for the post-truth era: Key Research Questions, and was part of the 2019 SRHE [The Society for Research into Higher Education] Annual Research Conference.

FACE 2020: Forever Africa Online

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From the end of  FACE 2019, we have been planning for FACE 2020 around the theme of ‘Decolonisation, Intellectual Pan-Africanism and the Future of the Multiversity.’ At the start of March 2020, everything was more or less in place, with only the UCU industrial action slowing things down slightly. We had speakers agreed, enough funding, a good venue, and all other logistics either agreed upon or nearly agreed upon. Then covid happened and we had to readjust. We had the option of postponing till 2021, but after some encouragement, we decided to make the best use possible of the online space afforded for FACE 2020.

Time and Place

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8 minutes and 46 seconds: That’s how long Derek Chauvin held his knee on George Floyd’s neck, as alleged by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office criminal complaint against the former Minneapolis police officer.

An Anti-Racism Reading List

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This is another one of my reading lists. Readers of this parish [sorry, blog] will have seen the one on Pan-Africanism and a crowd-sourced one for new or aspiring law students. [The next reading list will be solely on decolonisation, it is about 60% finished.Watch space – this one] This anti-racism list is partially crowd-sourced as well [Thank you to everyone who contributed – mainly on Twitter]. I like publishing reading lists as they make life easier for people who are often called upon to provide reading suggestions. I noticed however, that as my lists get longer and longer, they may not be as easy to use or navigate. Therefore, I have tried to make this list thematic. There will obviously be some overlapping themes here – reading material suited for more than one theme. Do let me know what themes are missing. There will also be something that you may have read and liked and it is not on the list. Please put additional suggestions in the comments. Noting of course, how impossible it would be to make any such list exhaustive. Thank you for reading. Looking forward to additional suggestions.

Decolonisation Must Disrupt or it is Not Decolonial

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This is essentially a incovidient post [not directly related to covid-19], nevertheless, I think it is important to note here that decolonial concerns are not in competition with the global pandemic. Initial data suggests that people from non-white backgrounds are most affected by covid-19. So, while there is always a temptation in these situations to pit one problem against the other – actions to manage the outcome of the pandemic against decolonial imperatives – we must resist that temptation and resist it is strongly. Also we can walk and chew gum and the same time. The impact of the pandemic has been to deepen inequality and not level it, contrary to what is often suggested. Reiteration is not confirmation. Admittedly, the virus cannot discriminate [it is a virus – barely sentient], but people and structures do discriminate. And people and structures determine who may live and who must die. Therefore the effect of the pandemic does discriminate. As I mentioned in my earlier piece about our world and covid-19, we must let our dreams and visions and knowledge structures and epistemologies and universities and schools and institutions… do more than continually reproduce an uneven world. A world where the lots of those who must die so that others may live, have always been unfairly cast. 

A Reading List for New Law Students

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This has got to be the weirdest time for students about to start their degrees. Following the corona-related shutting down of all schools, and the suspension of entrance exams, potential university undergraduates are probably feeling like they have been cast adrift on a sea of uncertainty. The guiding hand which represents the world they have known since they started formal education at the age of four, abruptly yanked away. Almost every year, I get asked for recommendations of books for aspiring law students. The stakes are so high this year. Therefore, when I received a similar request this year, I decided to crowd-source my response on Twitter, and received an overwhelming response.

Out of the Shadow of Fear

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I have often said that fear is humanity’s greatest vulnerability.

And in this moment, in this time, we live in great fear.

We are afraid that we will never have enough,

We are afraid that we will never be safe enough,

We are afraid that the air will not be kind to us,

We are afraid that the earth we walk upon will soon cover us,

Numbers, Names, Bodies & COVID-19

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As at time of writing, the global death toll from COVID-19 has surpassed 10,000. Many countries around the world are in some form of lockdown. Patterns of work and life are changing, maybe forever. As death tolls rise from country to country, people who have never lived in close proximity to death before are being forced to stare death in the face. Those who have always known death’s name have felt its cold visage draw closer. For some of us who live between those two worlds, known terrors have come calling once more. As the numbers rise, we know that there are names behind each figure, entire lives that exist no more, we know once again the pain of the left behind, as we deal in death once more.

Corona: Or writing through catastrophe

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My mind is numb. Pictures, videos, emails, messages and tweets from around the world. Fear, panic, dread, loss and uncertainty. And a thousand letters from ‘caring’ company CEOs telling me how they will carry on through this unprecedented disaster. Every day,  every hour, updates from around the world. From every continent, every region, every country, every province. We are counting the dead. We are counting the dead. How does one write through a global disaster? Should one write through catastrophe?