On the 24th of March 2023, the official book launch was held for “Decolonisation and Legal Knowledge: Reflections on Power and Possibility.” Full details here. If anyone is interested in getting the book, there is a 50% discount code: PODALK23. This discount is available till 30/04/2023. It can only be used on the BUP site. In this blog post I will summarise the launch event and reproduce my opening remarks.
Join us on Friday 24 March, 4-6 pm, to celebrate the publication of ‘Decolonisation and Legal Knowledge: Reflections on Power and Possibility’ (Bristol University Press, 2023)
The launch will include a panel discussion and will be followed by a drinks reception.
50% launch discount for in-person attendees, and book signings available on request.
50% discount for online attendees.
So, this is a question that I have been turning over in my mind for a while now. Can/should academics be called activists? Can they be activists as part of their role as academics? In other words, “scholactivists?” Or must these spheres never intersect? In this essay, I want to explain the trajectory of my thought on these questions, and why I do not think that path of questioning is ended.
As readers of this blog may know, I have just written a book on decolonisation. Available to pre-order. One of the things that I was trying to think through in writing the book was how to define decolonisation. I feel that a lot of the debate about decolonisation that we have seen over the last few years, while disguising itself as critique of decolonisation, actually reveals a misunderstanding of decolonisation. This stems from the fact that people are actually not engaging in debate on the same terms. However, there a couple of problems with defining decolonisation, especially in UK Higher Education. Firstly, decolonisation should always be understood from its historical political origins. A number of ways in which people engage with or critique decolonisation suggest that their understanding of decolonisation is divorced from those origins. Secondly, it must be understood that the contexts in which decolonisation has originated and continues to play out are varied. To a certain extent, one could suggest that a narrow definition of decolonisation is neither desirable nor possible.
After the upheaval of the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the global movement for Black lives as well as the ensuing backlash, 2022 did feel like a bland sort of year in some senses. On the other hand, the easing of pandemic restrictions gave us space, it seems to feel deeply the other things happening in the world. Political uncertainty in Britain, rising inflation around the world, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, political change in South America, the World Cup in Qatar, among other things. It almost seems as if 2022 was trying to make up for the slowing of pace that COVID lockdowns occasioned.
So, I spent most of the lockdown and post lockdown periods in a most “enjoyable” manner… writing a book! Looking back, I have no idea why I decided to write a book during a global plague. But I had started a lot of the research for it some years prior, so it seemed like a good idea for me to begin writing at that time. The book that came out of all this is titled, “Decolonisation and Legal Knowledge: Reflections on Power and Possibility.” It is now available for pre-order from Bristol University Press. The e-book is being released at the same time as the hardcover. The paperback will be released sometime later. I would really appreciate it if you could recommend the hardcover to your university or other libraries that you use, and also pre-order a soft copy for personal use. [See info on recommendation in image below].
This blog post is a reflection on both my personal academic journey, as well as a commentary on various strands of the state of the academic engagement with knowledge about Africa and of Africans. A number of years ago, I was at a crossroads in my career. As a school child, I had chosen to study law, despite at the time, the relative limited career paths it offered. Lawyer. Full stop. My aim was, and remains, to essentially do what I wanted with the discipline… among other things, engage in closer analysis of African pasts and presents, so as to consider what future paths we can take. However, in due course I noticed that the nature of law itself [mostly the dominance and expectations of positive law] was holding me back from these aims. In response, two options presented themselves. Either switch to career paths to African Studies or alternatively, investigate a closer critique of legal knowledge in this regard. This is not really a thriller tale I am writing here, many readers will know that I did not switch to African Studies. However, despite my continued misgivings about the field, you can still find references to African studies in some of my bios. In this blog post, I will explore some of reasons why I was tempted to go into African studies and why ultimately, the temptation fizzled to nothing. As such, the post is essentially divided into two sections. The first comments on the paucity of scholarship on Africa and why this is actually an indictment of the purposes and nature of knowledge cultivation and transmission, generally. Secondly, I explain why African Studies seems to actually exacerbate the horribleness of this paucity rather than mitigate it.
In this post I want to reflect on two main ways in which the concept of allyship against injustice is conceived… and then argue for a third way. I often get asked at talks on decolonisation/EDI how to be a good ally in the fight against racial injustice. I struggle with this question for two reasons. Firstly, I don’t really like telling people what to do, especially with reference to antiracist work. I don’t think there is a magic formula that solves all the problems. I am always happy to tell people what I think about things and let people decide what they want to do for themselves. Secondly, and probably more importantly, I think the word “ally” itself is not able to do the work that we are calling upon it to do – especially with reference to antiracist or decolonising work.
I started writing this post about 4 years ago, and a lot has changed since then. I am updating it once again, in May 2022. Currently, academic unions are on strike in both Nigeria and the UK. I have been updating and changing this post as the situation keeps changing in both countries. I have decided to publish this version as a preliminary overview. As developments develop, I may write additional posts as brief updates or observations on what is happening at that time. The picture is pretty grim for academia everywhere in the world. I have always been embedded in universities. I was born in one and apart from a year at the Nigerian Law School and my time in legal practice, I have always lived, worked or been at university. People may be able to tell from my work that I have a great passion for the future of universities and the role they may play in shaping new and just worlds. Or if they have any future at all.
I have been writing various versions of this post about romances and race for a while now. Probably since 2018. It started out as a sort-of review of The Power of One… there were also some additional thoughts that arose out of my review of Palm Trees in the Snow – which is, like the Power of One and Bridgerton, also a book-to-film adaptation. Then, the first season of Bridgerton was released at the end of 2019. I noticed that the things I wanted to say about the utilisations of cinematic portrayals of romance in both adaptations from book to film, were also being borne out in the adaptation of the Bridgerton novels… and even more so, as the adaptation adopted a counterfactual historical lens to depict a somewhat raceless picture of the past. However, so as not to conflate my gripes with adaptation with my gripes about race, representation and alternative histories, I have decided to focus in this particular post on the latter and consign the former to a different post. As always, watch this space for the other post… coming soon. Touch wood.