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Research on decolonization, anti-racism focus of the new site

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A new online hub brings together scholars and students from around the world to share research, amplify voices and encourage conversations on decolonization and anti-racism in universities.

Shirley Anne Tate

“One of the things we really need to think about as educators in colleges is the racial trauma that BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) students have to carry with them throughout their college careers, and the ‘impact it then has on as learners,” said Shirley Anne Tate, a professor at the University of Alberta. Tate leads the seven-year Anti-Racism Lab project as Research Chair of Canada on feminism and intersectionality.

As Tate explained, research indicates that BIPOC learners and faculty face particular barriers due to institutional racism, and the Anti-Racism Lab seeks to explore this topic internationally.

The Anti-Racism Lab is a collaborative international network of researchers in Finland, Sweden, South Africa, Brazil, the United States, Canada and the Métis Nation, showcasing the work of the researchers involved, Tate explained. The unifying factor of the collaboration is that the universities involved in the research project are in colonial states.

“These states are positioned differently in how they deal with racism in terms of rights and what that means in terms of equality,” said Tate, a professor in the Faculty of Arts.

It also serves as a connection point for academics in this field and people working on equity, diversity and inclusion or racism, who can often be isolated, Tate noted.

It is through these types of connections and networks that another component of the website, a speaker series, has come into existence. The Black Graduate Student Association of the University of Alberta hosted Tate’s keynote address for the Congress 2021 Big Thinking Lecture Series. When the association grew from an annual lecture to a series of seminars, a partnership with Tate and his project seemed natural.

“I think the website provides a space, a means of education, a way to illuminate around these issues,” said Professor Collins Ifeonu, doctoral student and president of the BGSA. “I see the project as a valuable hub and repository of scholarship that can really stimulate ideas, educate and get people to think critically about these topics.”

The seminars were virtual and free. “There are always a lot of research, intimate, uncomfortable and challenging questions that show people are really engaged,” Ifeonu added.

It is not only researchers or lecturers whose voices are shared on the new platform. The website features a blog, de.col.o.nize, which Tate envisions as a space for postgraduate students. Anyone in the world can submit an article on the subject of decolonization.

Although the website has a private component related to the international research project – a confidential portal for the diaries of research participants – everything else, from the blog posts to the speaker series to the research itself, is accessible to the public.

“A researcher’s job is to complicate and then simplify. We have to scratch a bit below the surface and really get into a more intimate and critical understanding,” Ifeonu said. “Once this goal is achieved, we make our knowledge and perspectives understandable, digestible, for everyone.

The website, developed with the help of the Arts Resource Centre, is constantly evolving with new content, new research and new voices, all in conversation about key issues affecting BIPOC students and creating an “Achievement Gap”, which Tate talked about in a TedxRoyalCentralSchool talk.

Tate noted that having a strong network is key to his research and work against racism.

“Surround yourself with people you trust because you need to feel that people support you.”

| By Adrianna MacPherson

Adrianna is a reporter for the online magazine Folio at the University of Alberta. The University of Alberta is an editorial content provider partner of Troy Media.


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