Staff and students at UNSW contributing to scholarship and research on race, racialisation, racism and antiracism.
How do we understand racism, and what is the role of the university in tackling racism and racialisation both within the institution and more broadly?
Set up in late 2021 under the auspices of the Innovation Hub in ADA, the Antiracism Collective is a genuinely multidisciplinary, collaborative initiative. With active and enthusiastic participation and support from academic and professional staff as well as Higher Degree Research (HDR) students from across the faculty, the Collective represents a preliminary attempt to address the question: How do we understand racism, and what is the role of the university in tackling racism and racialisation both within the university and more broadly?
The Collective’s main focus in 2022 has been on developing projects that are both achievable this year and can also lay the foundation for future initiatives.
The Collective is made up of four inter-linked Themes, each with its own Leads and projects:
The Research and Scholarship Theme underpins and informs the activities and projects being carried out under all the Themes. It engages with and facilitates discussions on diverse areas of race-related scholarship and research.
The Curriculum Theme is currently identifying and developing a suite of courses that will comprise an undergraduate Major in Race and Culture Studies. This Major is expected to be made available to students in 2024.
Working with the ADA Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, the Institutional Issues Theme seeks to address racism and racialisation of staff and students of colour and advocate for more pastoral care for international students and students from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds.
The Outreach and Activism Theme focuses on developing strategies to work with organisations and institutions in the broader community within and outside the university to promote racial equality, tackle racism/racialisation, and promote diversity.
Professor R. Harindranath (SAM) is the Academic Lead and contact person for the Collective.
The Antiracism Collective aims to facilitate and contribute to scholarship and research on race, racialisation, racism, and antiracism. Race, as Stuart Hall famously put it, is a ‘sliding signifier’, a concept that is continually reinvented through shifting practices of ascription. Scholarship on the concept of race remains integral precisely because it is not a static concept. The Antiracism Collective is committed to the study of racialisation and racism that is attentive to the way these concepts are shaped by economic, political, historical, and cultural forces. The Collective understands race critical scholarship to include research on settler-colonialism and imperialism, race and its intersections with gender and class, race in/as technology, and, crucially, antiracist struggles. The Collective seeks to support and showcase scholarship on race by UNSW staff and students, as well as to host public-facing seminars featuring leading scholars from around the world. Finally, the Collective aims to develop resources for staff to use in their classrooms to animate discussions around (anti)racism across diverse disciplines.
The Antiracism Collective has produced a series of public resources that highlight important research on racialisation and racism, as well as antiracist theory and practice. These resources include documentation of public seminars, as well as materials produced by UNSW staff and students.
The ADA Antiracism Collective presented a seminar with Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò on his recently published book, Elite Capture: How The Powerful Took Over Identity Politics (And Everything Else) (Haymarket Books, 2022). In Elite Capture, Táíwò identifies the process by which a radical concept can be stripped of its political substance and liberatory potential by becoming the victim of elite capture - deployed by political, social, and economic elites in the service of their own interests.
Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University. He is the author of Elite Capture: How the Powerful Took Over Identity Politics (And Everything Else) and Reconsidering Reparations. Táíwò’s theoretical work draws liberally from the Black radical tradition, anti-colonial thought, German transcendental philosophy, contemporary philosophy of language, contemporary social science, and histories of activism and activist thinkers. His work exploring the intersections of climate justice and colonialism has been featured in The New Yorker, The Nation, Boston Review, Dissent, The Appeal, Slate, Al Jazeera, The New Republic, Aeon, and Foreign Policy.
The seminar was facilitated by Dr Astrid Lorange (School of Art & Design) and Dr Andrew Brooks (School of Arts and Media), both members of the Antiracism Collective.
More seminars to come December 2022.
Members of the Collective are currently collaborating with groups both within the university, such as the Forced Migration Research Network, and the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, and also working on and developing projects with institutions, organisations and advocacy groups outside the university, such as the Matraville Education Partnership, SBS, and Women of Colour Australia.
Refugee and Asylum Seeker Advocacy Group:
Shima Saniei – ADA HDR Candidate
Refugee and Asylum Seeker Advocacy Group aims to advocate for current and prospective refugee and asylum seeker students or students with refugee backgrounds (RAS students) at UNSW. RAS students are not recognised or represented in the university policies and services. UNSW is a global university and excels in refugee research. However, mechanisms to incorporate specific needs of RAS students into policies and procedures have only been developed recently. UNSW offers a few scholarships to RAS students but lacks policies to promote the students’ access to UNSW, enrolment, education, and success.
We take a bottom-up approach to listen to and learn from RAS students. We aim to investigate how race factors into the lack of information and support for this group of (aspiring) students.
Our 2022 goals include:
Our vision is to make UNSW an inclusive university for current and prospective RAS students in which the students play a leading role in debate, policy, and practice relating to RAS students’ inclusion issues. We contribute to the UNSW’s 2025 strategy (Social impact—Equity, Diversity and Inclusion).
For more information or to join, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Continuing the Conversations: First Nations Literature for Children
Dakota Smith – ADA Cultural Reflexivity Initiative
Working in collaboration with the ADA Cultural Reflexivity initiative, this project aims to organise and document ‘book club’ sessions where staff come together to discuss First Nations literature for children, and develop reading and discussion guides to assist parents, carers, and teachers talk about First Nations issues with children.
Throughout the Cultural Reflexivity Initiative, many ADA staff expressed interest in participating in further conversations and learning around First Nations issues. For many of us, these discussions have not just stayed at work, but have carried over into our personal lives, and this raises questions about how to have conversations with the children and young people in we care for.
All ADA staff with an interest in this topic, and particularly those who have (or hope to have) young children in their lives are invited to come together to read a selection of First Nations literature, discuss the issues that emerge, and generative ways forward for engaging with the complexities that arise when reading these books with children.
The goals of this Book Club include:
The Antiracism Collective will use these sessions to help inform the development of a discussion guide for parents, with a goal of hosting workshops later in the year designed to bring together parents/carers and teachers to learn from each other about their approaches to these topics at home and at school.
Five books were discussed in 2022:
If you would like to purchase a copy of any of the books, all of the books in the series are available for purchase from the UNSW Bookshop at a discounted rate and are also available to borrow from each School in the faculty of Arts, Design and Architecture.
Registration is currently open to UNSW staff and HDR students only.
The Collective has organised various events in 2022, including informal lunch time discussions on race-related issues, a series of dialogues on First Nations Children’s Books, and seminars with scholars and scholar-activists.
The Collective plans to run a workshop for ADA HDRs in November 2022. Members of the Collective are collaborating with the Kaldor Centre and the ADA Forced Migration Research Network on a roundtable discussion on the theme of Borders, being organised as part of the Kaldor Centre’s annual conference in November. A film screening is planned for late this year. And there is at least one more seminar from international and national scholars and scholar-activists in November, 2022.
Antiracism Collective Academic Lead:
Ramaswami Harindranath – Professor, School of Arts & Media
Antiracism Collective Advisory Board:
Andrea Durbach – Emeritus Professor, UNSW Law, and past Director Human Rights Institute
Stephen Loo – Professor, School of Art & Design
Anna Munster – Professor, School of Art & Design
BJ Newton – A proud Wiradjuri woman and Scientia Senior Research Fellow, Arts, Design & Architecture
Helen Caple – Associate Professor, School of Arts & Media
Awni Etaywe – ADA HDR Candidate
Chi Chi Huang – Postdoctoral Fellow, Humanities & Languages
Diana Kreemers – ADA HDR Candidate
Bonaventure Munganga – ADA HDR Candidate
Maimuna Musarrat – ADA Educational Developer
Aves Parsemain – ADA Educational Developer
Shima Saniei – ADA HDR Candidate
Dakota Smith: ADA Cultural Reflexivity Initiative
We welcome conversations with UNSW colleagues, students and potential partners, collaborators and affiliates.