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20 October 2022

Decolonising the Curriculum and Inclusive Pedagogy exhibition

Malak Abdelkhalek

How can anticolonial archives help make our pedagogy more inclusive? How can they help us question colonial legacies and structures of oppression in the classroom?

Lotus Exhibition

The research project “Decolonising the Curriculum and Inclusive Pedagogy: Integrating Cultural Production and Decolonial Archives” answer these questions by focusing on Lotus, the magazine of the Afro-Asian Writers’ Association.

Lotus started out in Egypt in the late 1960s after the establishment of the Afro-Asian Writers Bureau and later moved first to Lebanon, and then to Tunisia for political reasons. The magazine was trilingual: it was published in Arabic out of Cairo, and in French and English out of the GDR. It aimed to give a platform to writers from Africa and Asia, and bring them together in the spirit of Third World solidarity. The magazine stopped in the early 1990s with the fall of the USSR.

“Decolonising the Curriculum and Inclusive Pedagogy: Integrating Cultural Production and Decolonial Archives" was an interdisciplinary project which brought together students and lecturers from the Department of Literatures, Languages and Cultures and the Department of International Development: Dr Sara Marzagora (Lecturer in Comparative Literature),Dr Rafeef Ziadah (Lecturer in Politics and Public Policy), Malak Abdelkhalek (MA Comparative Literature 2020-21), Sudi Ali (BA Comparative Literature 2020-23), Noha Choudhury (BA English 2019-22), and Salma Duqah (BA International Development 2019-2022); the graphic design was done by Toka Alhamzawey.

The project team produced an exhibition on Lotus, and a pedagogical toolkit on how Lotus can further inclusive pedagogy in the classroom. The toolkit describes the history and the legacy of Lotus, the background of the project, and practically shows how Lotus and other archival tools can be incorporated in syllabi and classroom activities. Some of the practical ways in which Lotus can be used in the classroom, as suggested by the students, include in-class collaboration focused on the magazine’s multilingualism, with the aim of valorising the varied linguistic expertise of King’s diverse student body. You can download the toolkit here.

Lotus Exhibition

The exhibition "Afro-Asian Solidarities: Lotus and its Afterlives” took place in Bush House from the 6th to the 14th of October 2022. The exhibition introduced Lotus to visitors by explaining the magazine’s history and its politics. It included pictures from archival copies of the magazine, which are very rare, and were acquired with the help of the University of Toronto.

It highlighted the contribution of Lotus to the making of Third World solidarity and leftist internationalism. It also displayed the particular historical events that the magazine was associated with, such as the Bandung and Tashkent conferences, the first of which was the first Afro-Asian conference, and the second started the Afro-Asian Writers Association. Additionally, it explored the magazine’s place in the literary world by looking at the Lotus Prize, which was awarded to some of the most influential writers to have come out of the African and Asian continents, such as Mahmoud Darwish. The last part of the exhibition connected the politics of Lotus with contemporary social movements and present-day internationalism, for example Black Lives Matter and Rhodes Must Fall.

exhibiton lotus pic2

The opening event for the exhibition which was held on the 6th of October 2022. It was open to the public, as was the exhibition, as this aligns with the spirit of the project of bringing decolonisation outside of the classroom and making education inclusive for the general public. Visitors were given a copy of the toolkit and had some time to look at the exhibition. The panel discussion was opened by the Head of the Department of Literatures, Languages and Cultures at KCL, Professor Catherine Boyle, who welcomed guests and speakers. Dr Sara Marzagora and Dr Rafeef Ziadah introduced the project and its objectives, followed by the students who worked on the project: Malak Abdelkhalek, Noha Choudhury and Sudi Ali. Three discussants from the LSE Department of Sociology were then asked to comment on the project. Dr Mai Taha spoke extensively about her research using anti-colonial archives. Dr Mahvish Ahmad talked about her the Revolutionary Papers project. Finally, Dr Sara Salem spoke about her LSE module on anti-colonial archives. This was followed by an engaging questions and answers section and a food and drinks reception.