As is my usual practice, I begin each year on the blog with a post that opens the year by reflecting on the activities and lessons from the past year. To that end, here’s my round up of my blogging activity of 2021, as well as news of some other academic writing and activity. My blogging frequency was down in 2021, because apart from the global pancake, I also decided to write a book. The book (still in progress at January 2022) aims to detail my thoughts on the ways in which decolonisation should and can inform teaching and researching law, focusing on the conceptual approaches that are possible, and I believe necessary, in this conversation. Watch this space for the book. Writing has gone better than expected in some ways, but there is still some more hard work to be done before publication dates and information can be announced.
Taking a look back at 2021, through the eyes of my writing, is an interesting experience, especially because, unlike 2020, 2021 was a year spent completely immersed in a global pandemic. I started 2021 with a look back at 2020, which was a year that, in many ways shook the earth, but seems to have left humanity unchanged. 2021 has shown that we (human beings and the structures we live in) have not been able to prioritize life, all life, over economic gain. Even a massive global event like the global pandemic, which has placed all life in potential jeopardy, has not seemed to move the world to action. What then would it take for humanity to respond adequately to the perils of climate change, global inequality, racial injustice and extreme poverty? In Whisky, Tango, Foxtrot 2020: What to do with 2021, I once again suggested that the only way we get through this – all this – is to by being kind, bold, and present… while the light lasts. I return to that refrain at the start of 2022.
As my blogging was reduced, I made up for this by sometimes tweeting potted versions of what I may have written on the blog. On the 6th of January 2021, some “patriots” invaded the US Capitol, in what was called a coup, to support Trump’s claim to remain as President. I noted how this insurrection ironically reflected values that replicate imperial imposition of democracy. Apparently, the idea that you can enforce democracy [meaning any political result that you personally agree with] by violent means, is an idea that went right back home to the USA.
When they were out and about sharing democracy for everybody, maybe they should have kept some back for themselves. pic.twitter.com/84P9dgpHps
— Dr Folúkẹ́ Adébísí (@folukeifejola) January 6, 2021
The imperial machine of the United States and the material effects of its many guises illustrates why a broad conversation about the afterlives of colonialism is always necessary, while the colonial project persists. Therefore, my next post of 2021 enlarged on that theme in relation to decolonisation of education in Africa. Linking to an article I wrote a while ago, [published in 2016] the post, “Decolonising Education in Africa – Five years on”, explained how decolonisation of education means nothing without disentangling the alliance between law/legal education and coercive power. In other words, we should concern ourselves with finding new ways of life, if we are serious about the just world we want legal education to produce beyond this necropolitical deathscape. Building new worlds is painful work, that cannot be done by merely maintaining the structures of the old one.
Sometimes what we call the elephant in the room, is actually just the room… which should be dismantled.
— Dr Folúkẹ́ Adébísí (@folukeifejola) March 11, 2021
Of course it is not enough to work on one book project in a year. In 2021, I managed to get myself involved in a number of writing collaborations, some of which will come to fruition in 2022 or beyond. As always, I will keep you posted. Early in the 2021, together with Ntina Tzouvala and Suhraiya Jivraj [Penelope Andrews had to drop out for personal reasons], we released a call for papers for an edited collection on decolonisation, anti-racism and legal education. I will share updates soon on the progress of the Call for Papers for Decolonising Legal Pedagogy/Anti-Racist Legal Scholarship. The abstracts are very promising and exciting.
A Metalogue I co-wrote with Hadiza Kere Abdulrahman, Zibah Nwako and Elizabeth Walton was also published in 2021, titled “Revisiting (inclusive) education in the postcolony.” If you have never co-written before, I suggest that you do so, my experiences co-writing have all been extremely positive. Though, I think that is down to the wonderfulness of my co-authors.
I also got to present at a plenary session at the annual conference of the Socio-Legal Studies Association. In the video below, I share some thoughts on what Paul Robeson’s legacy teaches legal scholars about achieving justice through our teaching and research in law.
My next blog post in 2021 examined the relationship between law, race and development. It was based on an entry I had written the previous year, published in the Encyclopedia of Law and Development. Both the entry and the blog post [What lies lie at the convergence of law, race, and development?] argued that we cannot really be said to be promoting development without thoroughly understanding impoverishment and the role that racialisation, academia and legal norms have played and continue to play in perpetuating the conditions we claim to seek to overturn.
The role of Higher Education, especially in the Global North, is vital in understanding the aforementioned structures and processes. And so my next post [Racial [In]Justice in Higher Education – A tri-temporal failure] engaged with the question of how racial injustice in higher education is not just a representational or diversity issue, but a question of normativity and thus has evolved across time and space – with universities presenting different faces (supportive and subversive) to these questions.
I also managed to design an African Geography Quiz. Try it if you haven’t already. More quizzes to come in the new year… Hopefully! I keep meaning to design new quizzes, but hardly have the time or the technical know-how to manage that. If you have any ideas for quizzes let me know. Also, if there are any quiz-making apps that have worked well for you, do let me know as well.
The global pandemic keeps teaching us new lessons about who we are and who we may become. As the global pandemic extended itself, so also did longstanding practices of necropolitics that continue to place human life and earth survival, secondary to capital accumulation and property-making. I wrote “The ‘Vaccine Apartheid’” about this long history, drawing on some of my teaching material to explain the continuities in how we have experienced local and global governance of the pandemic.
Through that post and thereafter, I returned to questions that I have been thinking through, for what seems like my entire journey in law… what are law schools for? Who does the law serve? Can we, from inside of the law, fashion a better world 5hat protects life and the earth upon which we currently survive? What Are Law Schools For? Teaching through the heart of an identity crisis examines local legal knowledges [including Euro-modern ones] and global critical junctures in the making of the modern Law School. This blog post distills an article that I wrote about legal education and the limits of diversity. It’s freely available to be downloaded. See image below for abstract.
August found me in conferencing mode and despite the pressures of writing the book, in a lighter mood. At least till the end of the summer break and a return to fighting with the teaching timetable and all the mayhem that heralds the start of term and the school year.
As we enter another conferencing season… reminder instructions for introducing yourself… pic.twitter.com/ieoCCfQca8
— Dr Folúkẹ́ Adébísí (@folukeifejola) August 9, 2021
During this time, I also curated a playlist of movies, documentaries and television programmes called, “Law, Race and Decolonisation” for Box of Broadcasts. I wrote an accompanying blog post, Law, Race and Decolonisation: A video and essay teaching resource, that grouped the resources thematically and also included further reading. Further suggestions and recommendations for videos and essays are welcome.
Through the haze of the manufactured “culture wars” about freedom of speech for those still speaking and “cancellation” of those who remain loudest, in Losing Your Freedom of Speech, I reflected on what freedom of speech means to me, a person who has lived under a dictatorship.
In October 2021, academia lost one of its most insightful members. Charles W. Mills was a Jamaican-American political philosopher whose work on liberalism’s entanglements with white supremacy stretches across disciplines. His writings on the racial contract, especially, have enriched my own work and teaching over the years. He will be much missed. The video below demonstrates his clarity and intellectual depth, especially in explaining what “race” and “racism” mean.
The House of Gucci meme presented an excellent opportunity to comment once more on how universities and institutions in the Global North have attempted to dilute the radicality of decolonial action through performative acceptance. Once more, from left to right:
Visualising decolonisation in my head,
Explaining decolonisation to sceptical academics,
The decolonisation they will accept. pic.twitter.com/QMJkkbXslC
— Dr Folúkẹ́ Adébísí (@folukeifejola) November 14, 2021
With a massive influx of new membership, Forever Africa Conference and Events relaunched. FACE is an initiative established to promote the all round wellbeing of African and African descended students and staff in Higher Education. Watch this space. Join us. Read this: Reintroducing Forever Africa Conference and Events ‘Blackness is an immense and defiant joy.’ – Imani Perry
The untimely passing on of bell hooks left us in immense grief at the end of the year. I wrote To bell hooks and not being happy till we are all free, as a way to process the sorrow I felt and that was expressed across the world. I came to the writings of bell hooks with a hunger to understand my place in the world as a teacher, a woman and an African. Her words fed that hunger, planted seeds that I hope have borne fruit.
And so, I end my reflections on 2021 on that note of grief and love. I hope that those of us who grief in love at the passing of legends and the deplorable state of the world are able to turn that grief into action. I hope that we take the baton handed to us and carry on the work with commitment and dedication. I hope that we continue the journey into 2022 and beyond, planting seeds of love and hope in rough and hostile territory, cultivating fertile fields out of barren and toxic wasteland… building new worlds with a pedagogy of love and hope. May we be kind. May we be bold. May we be present… while the light lasts.