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Arts & Culture Student Society

Black Lives Matter: Arts & Humanities Collaborative Projects

Image 3. Daniel Samray. Black Lives Matter woman’s face but with mask _1808316466

BACKGROUND & PROCESS

In the wake of police killings of Breonna Taylor in March and George Floyd in May 2020, Black Lives Matter protests gathered momentum across the world. Student societies at King’s called for action and Heads of Department reached out to students acknowledging that UK Higher Education, including King’s, has a great deal of work to do in addressing racism.

Echoing the College-wide rapid response to Covid-19, the King's Arts & Humanities research team developed a funding call for collaborative projects engaging with Black Lives Matter and forms of anti-Asian racism linked to the global pandemic. We sought out projects that actively engaged students, staff and external partners in research, with the aim of generating tangible benefits for BAME people and / or changes to King's itself. Applications were open to undergraduates and postgraduates as well as staff.

The majority BAME Awarding Panel also included undergraduate and postgraduate representatives and worked collaboratively to develop the call and make funding decisions. For more on this process please see the KCL intranet pages.

THE AWARDS

Six awards were made to scholars from across the Faculty engaging with anti-racism work through creative, innovative and engaged research:

50 Faces of King's

Ehis Ilozobhie (an undergraduate student in the Department of German) is exploring how Black students and alumni navigate King’s through a combination of portrait photography and storytelling. The project questions the visibility and versatility of Blackness at our institution, analysing the predominance of narratives about “Black excellence” and creating more space for the “everyday”. By showing the range of Black faces at King’s it aims to shift perceptions of the university as a predominantly White space.

Decolonising Philosophy at King's

Naomi Snow (an undergraduate student studying Philosophy & Mathematics) is addressing the Eurocentric bias in Philosophy education through highlighting and re-empowering the techniques and concepts of African Philosophies. Adopting an Afro-futurist approach, the project develops a new conception of Philosophy able to address the epistemic exclusion of minority voices through analysis of existing curriculum and exploration of new approaches that would foreground alternative knowledge systems.

Tackling the Systematic Invisibility of Asia in CMCI Education

Takao Terui, Karin Chau and Hye-Kung Lee (postgraduate students from the Department of Culture, Media & Creative Industries (CMCI)) are addressing the gap between the substantial presence of Asian students and the systematic absence of Asian perspectives in courses convened by the CMCI. Their work employs interdisciplinary approaches including interviews, syllabus surveys and alternative course development to engage staff and students in decolonising the CMCI MA curriculum.

Obsidian Foundation Writers' Retreat

Obsidian is a new foundation and retreat for Black poets, founded by Nick Makoha a Ugandan poet and KCL PhD candidate (Department of English). The Retreat is a long-term, sustainable programme based on the successful model of Cave Canem in the USA. The Foundation will provide Black poets, who often face multiple barriers of access to literary resources and professional development, with an opportunity to network with agents, publishers and influencers.  A one-week retreat will be held annually for Black African, Caribbean, Afro-Latinx and African-American heritage poets, including those of mixed-Black heritage, who want to advance their writing practice. Poets are selected by application and the retreat will be led by five acclaimed Black tutors. The online retreat is open to poets and Black KCL students, the workshop will provide a clearing for conversation and will research the value of the non-racist writing space. The first retreat of courses, seminars, events and mentorships will be held virtually and include sessions with acclaimed poets Roger Robinson (T.S Eliot Award 2019), Raymond Antrobus (Ted Hughes Award 2019), Malika Booker (winner of the Forward Prizes Best Single Poem The Little Miracles 2020), Patricia Smith (Pulitzer Prize finalist 2018) and Terrance Hayes (MacArthur Foundation Fellow). 

Racism as a Virus

Dr Victor Fan (Reader in Film and Media Philosophy) and Dr Wing-Fai Leung (Senior Lecturer in the Department of Culture, Media & Creative Industries)are responding to the 20% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic (Grierson 2020) to explore how figurations of the “Chinese virus” are reflecting longstanding institutionalised racism. Qualitative data will be used to inform collaborative academic/artistic events (performance workshops and roundtables) that explore “Body and Performance” and “Asia as a Method”.

Abolitionist Curriculum

Josh Davies, Jon Ward and Hannah Crawforth (staff members from the Department of English) are developing new “Abolitionist Curriculum” for the English department exploring colonialism, slavery and its legacies that directly inform the Black Lives Matter debates. This curriculum will then be developed in partnership with London state schools building on the model of an existing second-year module that involves teaching collaborations with a local comprehensive in order to create a “flipped classroom”.

Read more about the rapid response call

Project status: Ongoing

Funding

  • Funding body: King's College London and Affiliates
  • Amount: £10,000
  • Period: August 2020 - January 2021

Contact

Dr Zoe Norridge

Pro-Vice-Dean for Impact & Innovation (Arts & Humanities)

Professor Anna Reading

Director, Arts & Humanities Research Institute