A warm welcome…..

The aim of the University Library blog is to connect the University of Lincoln community with information related to them locally within the institution and the Library, but also regionally and nationally.  We would like to promote and communicate a variety of initiatives, resources, developments and interesting stories that are meaningful in both the local University and wider community.


Perfectly Pink

One of my favourite sentences is ‘Have you read …?’, either because a good book can be recommended to a friend/colleague/family member or because following a positive response the result is an interesting discussion. I am referring to works of fiction but being a librarian this obviously spills over into work. As Special Collections Librarian I am seconded to Lincoln Cathedral Library two days a week, working in Exchequer Gate home of medieval manuscripts, early printed books, modern reference and archival material, available for staff and students.

Toni Watts was Lincoln Cathedral’s Artist in Residence 2015-2016, during which time she spent many hours looking through the illuminations in Lincoln Cathedral Library’s medieval manuscripts. Not wanting to lose her exquisite skill set the Cathedral has retained the connection with her position as Cathedral Illuminator. Find out more about Toni’s work – A Medieval Scribe in the Modern Day: the Illuminations of Toni Watts

Last month I came across a catalogue record in Lincoln Cathedral’s library catalogue for Mark Clarke’s Early English Text Society’s 2016 volume 347.

I emailed Toni with the ‘Have you read’ sentence and during her subsequent visit to Exchequer Gate, where the journal is located, Toni found a recipe for pink. A proper pink, not an orangey pink, which required brazilwood and an artist’s eye to transform from the page into paint. This pink will be used in Toni’s future classes, as she said “The benefit of access to a good book”. 

The following week I collected a bumper crop of oak galls from oak trees in Silica Country Park, which Toni uses to make the iron gall ink and will be used to make her black ink. 

See Toni Watts’ Website 

Claire Arrand Special Collections Librarian https://guides.library.lincoln.ac.uk/specialcollections  

Demystifying the ‘I’ in LGBTQI+

By Chris Breen (Senior Lecturer, School of Health and Social Care, College of Health and Science)

In 2015 as an incidental finding at the age of 50 I found out I was intersex and had XXY Chromosomes, I was initially surprised and concerned, but the more I learned about it, the more it explained the way I looked, felt, some developmental and health issues I had experienced and why I’m now being monitored and treated for other medical conditions. Although I have had a generally healthy and happy life, it does make me wonder what difference it would have made if it had been diagnosed earlier and suspect it would affect some of my life choices.

XXY is a chromosome variation characterised by an additional X chromosome in those assigned male at birth (47, XXY) and one of 50+ intersex variations.

When Rishi Sunak said in a cheap jibe against trans people last year “a man is a man and a woman is a woman, it is just common sense” he couldn’t be more wrong and demonstrated his lack of knowledge and inbred bias.

When we talk about sex rather than gender its not as simple as a binary choice. Sex is a combination of; Chromosomal, Gonadal structures, Internal and external reproductive system, hormones, Pubertal Sex Changes, Brain Sex, Behavioural and “Cognitive” Sex.

Intersex people are born with sex characteristics (including genitals, gonads, hormone production and chromosome patterns) that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies.

Intersex people like the wider population can have any gender identity and sexual orientation. However, a number are drawn to the LGBTQI+ community as they too are a marginalised group, who are often stigmatised and subject to discrimination.

Although the majority of people with XXY will identify as men, there is a number who have gender incongruence and or dysphoria or in my case gender euphoria, a celebration of the person I was meant to be and had kept hidden for most of my life.

As an institution as part of our ongoing programme of decolonising the curriculum we need to look outside our borders to the wider world and how they respect intersex and transgender people. In many countries intersex or a third gender is legally recognised on passports and other legal documents. And in other countries subsets of the population who live in a gender that differs than that assigned at birth are accepted and sometimes hold a place of reverence in their culture, Examples of this include; Argentina, Austria, Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Germany, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Indigenous people of North America, Ireland, Malta, Madagascar, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Oman, Pakistan and Samoa.

Now I do what I can to advocate for all intersex people regardless of their identities. 


Davis, G (2015) Contesting intersex : The dubious diagnosis. [ebook]. New York: NYU Press (Biopolitics: Medicine, Technoscience, and Health in the 21st Century). Available from https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=e000xww&AN=1020827&site=eds-live&scope=site [accessed 9 February 2024].

InterACT (2024) Intersex variations glossary. Sudbury, MA, US: InterACT. Available from https://interactadvocates.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/Intersex-Variations-Glossary.pdf [accessed 9 February 2024]

Klinefelter’s Syndrome Association (2024) Available from https://www.ksa-uk.net [accessed 9 February 2024]

McKenzie, K (2023) Sexual differentiation of the nervous system [Lecture]

Prevet, S. E (2003) Intersex and identity. The contested self. London: Rutgers University Press.

Taylor, O (2018) 10 societies that recognise more than two genders. Listverse. Available from https://listverse.com/2018/10/03/10-societies-that-recognize-more-than-two-genders/ [accessed 9 February 2024]

Turners Syndrome Support Society (2024) Available from https://tss.org.uk/ [accessed 9 February 2024]

United Nations Human Rights (2024) Intersex. United Nations Human Rights. Available from https://www.unfe.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Intersex-English.pdf [accessed 9 February 2024]

Walker, M. (ed.) (2018) Interdisciplinary and global perspectives on intersex. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.


Trans identities and medicalisation: A complex relationship.

By Dr Michael Toze (Senior Lecturer in Public Health and Social Determinants of Health, Medical School, College of Health and Science)

Gender diverse people existed well before modern medicine. One relatively well documented example is Erauso, who escaped from a convent in Spain somewhere around the year 1600 and spend much of the next fifty or so years living as a man, eventually receiving permission from the Pope to go on wearing male clothes even after his birth sex became known. It is difficult, and arguable entirely anachronistic, to determine how Erauso would have lived and what he would have called himself had he lived now, and this raises questions about how we narrate his story. It is also important to note that Erauso’s story is inextricably located in a context of class, race and colonialism. Nonetheless, it seems clear that in his own time and place, Erauso sought to live his life as a man. Velasco (2001) explores how Erauso’s life story has been reshaped over the centuries in line with the fears and desires of others.

Attributed to Juan van der Hamen – https://historia.nationalgeographic.com.es/a/increible-historia-catalina-erauso-monja-alferez_13152

Catalina de Erauso (San Sebastián, España, 1592 – Cuitlaxtla, México, 1650), llamada “La Monja Alférez”, fue una monja y soldado española.

Continue reading “Trans identities and medicalisation: A complex relationship.”

Transgender Awareness Week

Focus on the Lincoln School of Architecture and the Built Environment

Dr Zakkiya Khan (they/them)
EDI Lead: Lincoln School of Architecture and the Built Environment

This week, we unite to celebrate Transgender Awareness Week, fostering a culture of inclusion, respect, and understanding. As the chair of the LSABE EDI (Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion) committee, I would like to share resources that aim to enrich our collective knowledge and empower us to create a more inclusive environment within the field of architecture and the built environment.

1. Awareness:

📚 Why Transgender Awareness Matters

In recognising Transgender Week of Awareness, it is crucial to understand who are transgender individuals and what are some of the challenges faced by transgender individuals? Explore resources that shed light on the importance of awareness and education in creating a supportive community.

[Transgender Awareness]

2. Design and Space Inclusion

🏠 Inclusive Design: Shaping Spaces for All Genders

Architects wield immense influence in shaping the world around us. Delve into the principles of inclusive design and the transformative impact it can have on creating spaces that celebrate gender diversity. Let’s explore how our designs can be a catalyst for positive change.

Take a look at this guidelines document on trans-inclusive design for museums, galleries, archives and heritage organisations:

[Trans Inclusive Design]

3. Space and Gender

🌐 Rethinking Spaces: Exploring Gender-Inclusive Environments

Spaces and gender are intricately connected. Discover how the design of spaces can influence and impact our perceptions of gender. Let’s engage in a conversation about challenging environments to resonate with diverse gender identities.

[Challenging Architecture]

[Unbuilding Gender]

4. Design that Makes a Difference:

✨ Architectural Activism: Designing for Social Change

Architecture has the power to be a force for social change and healing. Explore the works of designers who use their craft to address societal issues, including those related to gender diversity. Let’s be inspired to make a difference through our designs.

[Supporting trans designers]

[Design for dysphoria]

5. Gender Diverse Designers

👩‍🎨 Spotlight on Gender Diverse Designers

Celebrate the contributions of gender-diverse designers who have left a mark on the world of architecture and design. Their stories inspire us to embrace diversity and cultivate an environment where every voice is heard.

[Perspectives of Gender Diverse Designers]

[Interior designers addressing inequality]

This week, let’s embrace the opportunity to deepen our understanding, challenge assumptions, and cultivate a culture of empathy and acceptance. By integrating these resources into our collective knowledge, we can contribute to making the Lincoln School of Architecture and the Built Environment a place of inclusivity.

Together, let’s build a future where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued.

Hidden Architectural Voices

Decolonising@Lincoln summer project 2023

Chiji Amaechi (Graduate – Bachelor of Architecture 2023) 

Kuro Krukrubo (Graduate – Bachelor of Architecture 2023) 

Leslie Mfonow Tochukwu (3rd Year Student – Bachelor of Architecture 2023) 

(Mentor: Mark Olweny, Senior Lecturer in Architecture) 

Photo of Leslie Mfonow Tochukwu (3rd Year Student – Bachelor of Architecture 2023) in front of the display in the university library.
Leslie Mfonow Tochukwu (3rd Year Student – Bachelor of Architecture 2023) with the display in the university library (photo by Alexander White)

Architectural education embarks on a journey of exploration, utilising various architects and their projects to foster an understanding of the development of architectural ideas. Yet, a conspicuous absence becomes apparent – the lack of architects of colour and architectural projects designed by individuals of colour in formal lectures, tutorials, and architectural publications. This absence in the established canon poses a challenge, particularly for us as students of colour who may come to believe that architects of colour are non-existent. 

Recognising the importance of providing students with access to diverse histories within architectural education, we initiated a project that culminated with this exhibition. A pivotal question arose: ‘Where are the hidden voices in architecture?’ As Craig Wilkins suggests in his book “Diversity Among Architects,” we must exercise caution not to equate invisibility with absence. Undoubtedly, architects from minority groups have existed in the past, and their lack of immediate visibility does not negate their existence. This realisation propelled us to delve into the archives to uncover some of these individuals and their individual stories. This was bolstered by the election of Muyiwa Oki as the first black president of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in 2022. 

Continue reading “Hidden Architectural Voices”

Six Remarkable Black Women Who Shaped British History


The focus for this year’s Black History Month is the theme ‘Saluting Our Sisters and the #WEMATTER movement.   

Black women have played an important role in British life for centuries, but we don’t know much about them.  Their stories are not told in schools and rarely told in higher education.  It’s time to celebrate their achievements and introduce as many people as possible to the many black women who have not be recognised for so long. 

The Black Lives Matter movement has shone a light on black history in the UK and the Decolonising initiatives that have happened in the education sectors, including the University of Lincoln are beginning to uncover uncomfortable truths as well as campaigning for a change in the narrative more widely.  This is crucial to dismantling systemic racism. 

1948 saw the arrival of the Windrush generation but black women were already in the UK from as early as the 1700s.  What do we know about these women?  We should learn from them and be inspired by their courageous and resilient lives. 

The University of Lincoln libraries provide many resources to research these amazing black women. 

Black history month display pictures.
Images of displays in the main library and the Ross library

Continue reading “Six Remarkable Black Women Who Shaped British History”

The History of Black History Month

Jamie Markham (History and Heritage student and The School of Humanities and Heritage’s SEDIC (Student EDI Committee) 

Black History Month entails rich, cultural history in which’s paves a bright and diverse future for people of colour. It is vital to recognise the extent of racism and discrimination in which have targeted black people for centuries, alongside celebrating the significant contributes of black people to culture, science, politics, sports, and many other fields. However, the history of how Black History Month came to fruition is significantly undermined and underrepresented. Thus, we begin on this journey back in time and seek to build a relationship with Black History Month and it’s past.

Black History Month begins with one man and his determination to represent the resilience of black people and the discrimination in which they faced on a daily basis. Carter. G. Woodson established ‘Negro History Week’ in 1926, in a conscious effort to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the emancipation. Known as the ‘“Father of Black History” he founded the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) to support this mission. During the week, was a celebration of experiences and accomplishments of African-Americans. Woodson seeked to deepen understanding and knowledge of black peoples and their powerful influences on the rest of the world. Therefore, the second week of February became an opportunity to celebrate black liberation.

With this,Negro History Week gained a vast amount of interest and gradually gained popularity and expanded to become Black History Month in 1976. The reason behind it, to expand and allow for more extensive exploration of African American History throughout the entire month. It was conceded that the original purpose of this month was set to recognise and educate people about the efforts of black people despite their struggles in history. Alongside this, the event aimed to combat historical inaccuracies and misconceptions around black history and platform black individuals across a variety of fields. This has previously included individuals such as Martin Luther King and Maya Angelou.

Black History Month began in America but quickly spread to encompass global influence and now serves as a month of national dedication towards the black experience. Many countries gradually followed in a linear fashion, adopting similar approaches towards black representation and racial equality. In the UK for instance, Black history month was first celebrated 11 years later in 1987. After visiting America in the 1970s, Ghanaian-born, Akyaaba Addai Sebo, a special projects officer at the Greater London Council (GLC), founded the UK’s version of Black History Month in 1987. The event coincided with the 150th anniversary of Caribbean emancipation of slavery and the 25th anniversary of the Organisation of African Unity. Thus, black history month became a staple in reversing the suppression continuously experienced by Black people and paying tribute towards their influence. Today, most importantly, it serves as a reminder of a sustainable journey towards social justice and racial equality. As human beings, it is our responsibility to protect this message.


BiM2023 (2023) Black history month 2023. BiM2023. Available from https://blackhistorymonth.org.uk/black-history-month-2023 [accessed 19 October 2023]

History.com (2023) Black history month. A&E Television Networks. Available from https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/black-history-month [accessed 19 October 2023]

History.com (2023) The man behind black history month. A&E Television Networks. Available from https://www.history.com/news/the-man-behind-black-history-month [accessed 19 October 2023]

National Museum of African American History and Culture (2023) Celebrating black history month. Washington, US: Smithsonian. Available from https://nmaahc.si.edu/explore/stories/celebrating-black-history-month [accessed 19 October 2023]

Student Decolonising@Lincoln bursary project

Olivia Hennessy (she/her) ‘Decolonising Queer History in Britain’

My name is Olivia Hennessy, and I recently completed my third year of BA (Hons) History. I am pursuing a Master’s degree at the University of Leicester in September, specifically Museum Studies. From this, I made the decision to involve myself in the Decolonising @ Lincoln Project to broaden my understanding of decolonisation in educational and curatorial practises.

The Decolonising@Lincoln Project (D@L) highlights how the colonial past has a negative impact on our present and unjustly excludes particular groups of people, ideas, and practices. In order to reintegrate them into our teaching, learning, research, and administrative practices, it aims to reclaim suppressed voices and excluded types of knowledge and practice.

Olivia Hennessy (she/her) with her zine.

I decided to specifically focus on establishing a university syllabus about decolonising Queer History in Britain as a new approach. This syllabus has been visually broken down through a zine alongside a reading list implemented on the University of Lincoln library, including readings and films produced by people of colour.

The link for the list is here: Decolonising Queer History in Britain

Additionally, I produced a Word document describing how the syllabus may use creative assessments rather than essays. Since essays are notoriously challenging, having more creative assessments will allow students, and students from disadvantaged backgrounds, to approach decolonising Queer History in new and innovative ways. Podcasts and interviewing activists are included as the proposed assessments, enabling students to develop their skills in public history and communication.

This project addresses the D@L agenda to challenge the White Euro-American dominance of knowledge production by uncovering marginalised knowledge that is missing from subject disciplines and practices.

The aim of the project is to understand Queer British History through a decolonised perspective, assessing Black and Asian British queer identities, desires, and lives through films, documentaries, literature, and photographs. Specifically, Queer People of Colour and Asians in Twentieth Century Britain are the chosen marginalised groups for the syllabus. Some of the academics incorporated into this proposed syllabus are Ronald Cummings, Kobena Mercer, Jason Okundaye, Ajamu X, Topher Campbell and more. These academics give a comprehensive understanding of how decolonising queer history can be associated in Britain.

I decided to work on the proposed project as decolonisation is an important topic that needs to be discussed between students and staff more in our university community, particularly how intersectionality should play a significant role in decolonising the curriculum. I would like to conduct more research on this type of syllabus, especially how it may be applied to subjects other than history. This notion was inspired by Sabah Choudrey’s book ‘Supporting Trans People of Colour’ where Choudrey argued that Black Queers had to fight twice as hard to be ‘seen, heard, and loved.’ (14) Choudrey is a black transgender individual who shares their own contemporary experiences of feeling alienated as black and transgender. The research, education and content for this syllabus is relevant since racial and ethnic Queer communities continue to face discrimination in the United Kingdom.

The outcome of the zine was incredible! I have had a lot of interest from students and staff for either a paper or online copy. This demonstrates how important it is to decolonise Queer History through the university curriculum!

Photograph of zine being held in hand - 'Decolonise Queer British History' - a University Curriculum by Olivia Hennessy (she/her)

What I found compelling was Dr Simon Obendorf’s feedback on the reading list. Obendorf leads the Decolonising@Lincoln project and also specialises in gender, sexuality and decoloniality. He mentioned that this is very distinctively British and mostly Black British approach but very impressive. Obendorf also commented that Asia is more than just South Asia and looking at global history more generally. He gave a fantastic suggestion to look at the colonial legacy of anti-gay laws worldwide. This feedback has made me consider how to produce a global approach to Decolonising Queer History, which will be undertaken when I pursue my Master’s in Museum Studies at the University of Leicester.

Overall, D@L has enabled me to think more broadly about approaching Queer History through a decolonised lens. This opportunity is part of a progression towards my future studies at Leicester, described by Obendorf as ‘an awesome trajectory – a great success story’ and that a ‘showcase of decolonial work would be a great idea’. Racial and ethnic queer lives and histories should be seen and heard all year round!

Why do we need zines in the Library?

The University of Lincoln Library has a great new Zine collection housed on the ground floor of the main Library. Zines are a fantastic resource for many staff and students across the whole University community. They will be of interest not only to art and design related subjects but also those in social, political and humanities subject disciplines and potentially those outside of the institution. 

Photograph of zines area on the ground floor of the main library

The word ‘zine’ comes from the word ‘fanzine’ so emerged originally from the 1930s as fans of science fiction produced these ‘fanzines’. These non-traditional publications are self-published (written/edited, illustrated, copied, assembled, and distributed); they are motivated by desire for communication or self-expression (not profit, fame, or a grade). They have their roots in social and political activism e.g. punk, LGBTQ+ etc. and are usually a small publication which tend to be produced from materials to hand by individuals, photocopied and distributed cheaply. Zines have a small distribution (5-3000 copies) and are underground or alternative in content or flavour; they are free of paid advertising. They are a popular medium in the art and design world, but they are also produced for all sorts of reasons – music zines, travel zines, literary zines. The modern zine bears little resemblance to its cousin ‘fanzine’.  

The Library is working to diversify materials and challenge white-centred, heteronormative practices which impact our collections, users, and services. The University of Lincoln is committed to long term goals around decolonisation and equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) projects and the Library is central to this work. An intersectional approach considers the many parts of a person’s identity, and the aim of the zine collection will be to be more representative of marginalised voices. It would be great to get staff and student input into the collection either with existing zine donations or student projects around EDI and decolonisation.  

 Why are they important?  

  • They provide an alternative point of view – something is said by someone who wants to express it. 
  • Producing a zine allows individual expression – no editorial board – simply a direct link to an individual’s opinion or artistic expression.  
  • Zines provide an insight into today’s modern popular culture – a direct and unfiltered view of an individual’s interpretation at the time.  
  • Historically important – letters were a principal form of communication but in our digital world, a lot of this type of history is disappearing. If we do not preserve zines, historians will have to write about our era from secondary sources.  

Do you want to make a zine and donate it to the Library collection? Would you like to find out more about zines? Do you know about a zine that you think we should have in the Library? To find out more, look at the School of Design Library Subject Guide https://guides.library.lincoln.ac.uk/design/zines which includes a form where students and staff are invited to ‘suggest a zine’ for the collection. You can also contact Subject Librarian, Oonagh Monaghan (omonaghan@lincoln.ac.uk). 

You can also look at the articles in the School of Design INK magazine INK Magazine. Issue one: Spring 2022 by Holmes, Jantze, editor, Tullett, Barrie, 1964- (lincoln.ac.uk)

Student bursaries for decolonising work

Whose voice are you hearing round black image with white words and ear shaped question mark
Image Created by Ccrow @worldofccrow

As part of the University of Lincoln commitment to engage and involve students in work to decolonise the university, students are invited to apply for bursaries to conduct projects supervised by members of University staff for up to 1 month during the period 12 June – 14 July. Up to 15 bursaries are available: to support student maintenance (£200 per month / pro rata for shorter periods) and project expenses

The Decolonising@Lincoln (D@L) project draws attention to how the colonial past negatively influences our present, operating unjustly to exclude certain peoples, knowledges and ways of working. It seeks to recover silenced voices and excluded forms of knowledge and practice, and to reintroduce them into our teaching, learning, research, and administrative practices. Bursaries can be used to support any activities that align with this agenda, and which will produce outputs that can raise awareness, and inspire decolonised ways of thinking and working within and potentially beyond the university. 

Students may wish to focus on identifying and/or critically challenging coloniality in their subject areas or experiences of teaching and learning practices; or to identify ways of diversifying, decolonising or internationalising the university curriculum, for example by including the voices and works of formerly colonised people, and/or ideas and practices that are not from the Euro-Western tradition. Exploratory research projects in preparation of dissertation research projects are welcome, as are experimental research approaches and conceptual studies and thought pieces. Projects may be conducted by individual students or in collaboration with others. 

We are particularly keen to encourage projects that: 

  • Support the Reimagining Lincolnshire project by uncovering hidden and neglected stories from Lincolnshire, about individuals whose contributions to the county, country and internationally have largely been forgotten 
  • Challenge the Euro-American domination of knowledge production by revealing hidden/ marginalised knowledge that is missing from subject disciplines and practices
  • Involve students working in groups to gather data from staff and students about their knowledge and understanding of coloniality and decoloniality. 
  • Develop understandings of whatstudents are asking and looking for in a decolonised curriculum
  • Reveal where coloniality is present in University spaces and offer ways of challenging this 
  • Helping to Decolonise the Library by identifying gaps and imbalances in existing holdings, and/or developing a decolonising library guide for your subject area (see here for an example) 
  • Consider how to decolonise university systems and processes e.g. training and recruitment 

Suitable outputs include written reports, creative outputs, online resources, public exhibitions, blogs, zines, library reading list / event / installation, social media content/TikTok videos.

Each project must adhere to university ethical procedures, and should be supervised by a member of staff, who will advise on ethics and provide up to 3 hours of support over the duration of the project. 

Students who are looking for supervisors or a student collaborator from another discipline or school should, in the first instance, contact the member of staff who acts as Decolonising champion for their school.

Contacts for Reimagining Lincolnshire are Victoria Araj VAraj@lincoln.ac.uk and Heather Hughes HHughes@lincoln.ac.uk

Contacts for Decolonising the Library are Oonagh MonaghanOMonaghan@lincoln.ac.uk and Hope Williard HWilliard@lincoln.ac.uk

Proposals should be submitted on the application form provided to decolonising@lincoln.ac.uk . The deadline for submission of applications is 26 May.

The applicationform is here:
student summer D@L project proposal form 2023 final.docx

You will be informed by 2 June whether your project has been selected for support. The selection process will focus on: viability of the project, clarity of the output, affinity to the theme.