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.
📚 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.
🏠 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:
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.
✨ 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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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 (email@example.com).
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.
Oonagh Monaghan (She/Her) , Academic Subject Librarian and Decolonising@Lincoln Library lead
I’m an Academic Subject Librarian at the University of Lincoln. I support the subjects of Fine Art, Design and Architecture and have worked at the University for over 20 years. Over the years I have supported various disciplines, however, over the last few years I realised I have always been an art librarian at heart! A few years back I attended the UK and Ireland Art Libraries Society (ARLIS) conference in and it was then that I began to think more deeply about critical librarianship, decolonising collections and creative innovations. During my talk today I will be acknowledging others who have been influential in my own development.
We have three libraries – one at Holbeach, one based in the Medical School in Lincoln and the main Library where I’m based. The Library is a converted railway warehouse and as you can see from this tweet, it recently featured in a documentary called ‘The architecture the railways built’ – you can also see here what the building looks like now.
I was interested in how we could relook at the history of the building itself, so I invited academic Dr Simon Obendorf to write a blog post about the building’s site, purpose and physical structure and how it provides us with many opportunities to reflect on Britain’s colonial past. Any links I refer to today will be made available so you can read more about this in Simon’s post on the Library blog.
There may be scope in the future for doing more about the colonial history of the building to highlight these aspects of this history.
One person who has been very inspirational to me is Marilyn Clarke, who is former Library director at Goldsmiths and now Librarian at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. 2
“I as a library worker seek to transgress against the boundaries imposed by racism, classism and heteronormative structures in both knowledge dissemination and organisation, as well as institutional structures” Marilyn Clarke, 2019
This quote by Marilyn encapsulates my starting point when thinking about decolonising activities. I’m very conscious of my own privilege as a white middle-class, cis, heterosexual, able-bodied person and the fact – that here we are today – three white librarians talking about decolonisation and libraries.
Recently Naomi Smith who is Assistant Library Manager at UCL ran a webinar entitled ‘Librarians for critical digital justice’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8h1AREn5t0 and talked about not skirting around issues with soft words like inclusion and diversity and instead using terms like white supremacy and institutional racism. I agree that we can get lost in bureaucratic tick boxing exercises in Higher Education. My starting point has always been from a critical librarianship position, and I don’t believe in neutrality within the library setting. Critical librarianship means for me that I’m always trying to think of my work from an intersectional and social justice perspective and also that I need to be on a continual process of learning from others.
The University of Lincoln has developed action plans within schools and colleges and has commitment from the senior management team to make decolonising a serious and long-term project. As part of this plan, professional services departments are included and the Library is central to both developing professional services understanding and also engaging with the academics and the curriculum. The initial and ongoing aims of the Library are to
Reveal coloniality of existing collections
Embrace and extend decoloniality
So, what can we do in our libraries to dismantle what is already in place and rethink the knowledge distribution? There are no easy answers and we may now actually be starting to overuse the word ‘decolonise’ and inadvertently diluting the issues that are holding up the colonial structures.
Naomi said in her talk that many libraires are simply doing inclusion work and diversifying collections, and I agree that this can so easily happen. So, we really need to think deeply about what we can do to challenge this.
My talk is not offering any defined solutions to these issues but instead I will be talking about my journey with the ‘Decolonising@Lincoln’ project and developments in the University and within the library that I hope will start more conversations.
I got involved in a lead role as soon as the University created a project around decolonisation and have worked with my colleague, Dr Hope Williard who is also a College of Arts Librarian, as Library liaison on both the University Decolonising steering and working groups.
So the library is actually involved at every level since the onset of the project.
I think this is key.
For the Library to be central to all University discussions so that it then cannot be separated from discussions around the curriculum. As you can see from the chart, in addition to the steering committee and working group, there are also College and School leads and at this level, all the other Subject Librarians are required to work with their academics on decolonising projects.
The first thing we did practically was draw together information from our own institution and from other University libraries and I have been particularly influenced by the work on the ‘Liberate our Library’ campaign at Goldsmiths https://www.gold.ac.uk/library/about/liberate-our-library/.
You will notice as well that we use the terms decolonisation and decoloniality.
There is a very good explainer of these terms and the differences on a University of Arts London (UAL) article ‘Decolonising the library: a theoretical exploration’ by Jess Crilly who also co-edited the book ‘Narrative Expansions with Regina Everitt – another recommended read. https://sparkjournal.arts.ac.uk/index.php/spark/article/view/123/190
As part of my initial research for the toolkit, I contacted Caroline Ball from the University of Derby as I had seen the great work she had already done. Caroline’s work helped me get started with the D@Lincoln tookit which is available on our Library website https://guides.library.lincoln.ac.uk/DecolonialityAtLincoln.
As the toolkit was the first thing we did, I do think we need to look at this again very soon. It has been used as a focus for the University academics and professional services staff where there was nothing else visible.
Now that the University has moved forward and is developing their central Decolonising@Lincoln website, the library content can now be revised and improved.
I also want to get away from the idea that just by diversifying reading lists we can tick off decolonisation as being ‘done’. When we initially set up the toolkit on Libguides software, I had permission to use a great reading list audit tool from Manchester Metropolitan University, but I gradually became aware that this actually potentially hindered the conversation and facilitated the tick boxing approach rather than thinking more deeply about the curriculum development.
I have also now created a separate Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Guide with the emphasis being on diversifying the collection.
So often, there is confusion about the difference between the decolonising work and the EDI work. The new EDI guide will allow us to develop the Decolonising@Lincoln Library toolkit and move away from the focus of diversifying reading lists as the main outcome of library involvement.
The bookplates in the Goldsmiths ‘Liberate our degrees’ initiative inspired me to think about a design for our own libraries and one that could be used on promotional material, campaigns, bookmarks and shelf-ends. I organised a project with the School of Design for the students to submit entries to a competition in 2022 and the judges included School of Design academics, decolonising steering group members and Marilyn Clarke who was then Director of the Library at Goldsmiths.
The competition was shared with all of the School of Design students via the Blackboard VLE noticeboards and via a publicity, using posters and social media. I also did an Adobe presentation https://express.adobe.com/video/tiVyWQG6CrNSI which I could share with students and help them understand the background to the decolonising initiatives. It was a massive effort on my part to try and get the students to feel confident to enter the competition alongside all the other work they had to do on assignments and dissertations, but by the competition deadline, we had six entries. This doesn’t seem like a lot, but I was really pleased with the thought processes that I could see within the designs. I could tell that the students had had conversations with academics had done their own research. The judging panel consisted of myself, School of Design academics, Decolonising@Lincoln steering group members and external judge Marilyn Clarke.
We eventually decided on a winner and had two runner-up prizes. I organised a prize-giving event and invited all the key stakeholders and the three students – this was covered by the Marketing team and featured on the University staff news, social media channels and on the Library blog.
So here we have the winning design by Kes Whyte which we now have as a recognisable University of Lincoln image to use on materials and on the web. I have included the Instagram handle of the illustrator as they are now out in the real world for you to follow.
In addition to the winning image, one of the runner-up images was so good that we decided that we wanted to turn this into a mural in the Library. This has taken some time to negotiate and wasn’t without problems along the way, namely a pesky plug socket which you can now see is covered with a black socket plate (we also had to work with the student to redesign the whole image to suit the space). You can also follow Rhoda, who designed this mural, if you so wish, on Instagram. Both students are amazing artists.
One of the developments I’m most proud of is our new zine collection. I could do a whole presentation on the development of the zines!
I’m very proud that our Libraries and Learning Skills department now has a growing collection of zines and these are displayed on the ground floor the the main Library.
The collection includes zines donated by zinesters (which is the name for zine makers), zines bought by the Library via sites like Etsy and those made and donated by students in the University itself.
Zines have a long history of being used by marginalised and excluded people and communities due to their DIY and self-publishing format. The aim is to provide a medium that diversifies our collections further and challenges white-centred practices which impact our collections, users and services.
I’m always keen to take an intersectional approach and develop a zine collection which I hope will begin to help us think about the voices so often not heard.
In addition to the new collection, I have developed connections with academics, students and external people who have a common shared interest in zines. We have held workshops and I’m working with academics on other initiatives as part of the EDI agenda. You can also see on this photograph that we have a vinyl sign version of the ‘Whose voice are you hearing’ design produced by a great College of Arts Technician colleague who I’ve also worked with on a zines workshop in the Library.
Co-investigators include heritage professionals, teachers and researchers from a wide range of organisations in the region, as well as staff and students at the UoL and Bishop Grosseteste University. The project seeks to uncover hidden and neglected stories from Lincolnshire, of those whose contributions to the county, country and internationally have largely been forgotten.
I have been lucky to work alongside the project on various initiatives, one of which was part of a Wikimedia UK funded connected heritage project. (https://wikimedia.org.uk/connected-heritage/ Connected Heritage projects are a collaboration between Wikimedia and heritage organisations in England and Wales.
In October 2022 we organised a Reimagining Lincolnshire: Black History Month Wikithon where participants were invited to learn Wikipedia basics and make some edits to highlight some of the stories and people with connections to Lincolnshire.
Editathons aim to address the underrepresentation of people from the Global South, women, people of colour, LGBTQ+ people and other marginalised groups in Wikipedia entries and among contributors.
We had some great fun editing on the day and in particular a new article was created on Mahomet Thomas Philips https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahomet_Thomas_Phillips who was a sculptor and stone carver. The event coincided with an exhibition in the Library produced by the Reimagining Lincolnshire team.
Embedding decolonising into other events/history months/displays
I’m conscious that an integral part of decolonising is that we think about it in everything we do as much as we can. So, I have tried to integrate it in the other activities across the Library.
An example of this was the display that we had this year for LGBTQ+ History Month and which included a Talis reading list with lots of recommendations including books on global issues of sexuality, gender and decoloniality.
Moving forward we can continue to think about future projects, widening involvement and all-team engagement. Communication and sharing knowledge is so important. The plan is to:
Continue to work on individual projects and events
Next, we will be organising a whole Library team meeting where academics of the D@L steering committee introduce decolonising concepts and invite discussion
We need to move the Academic Subject Librarians project forward – this involves collating information about existing curriculum initiatives which are already taking place in different disciplines and help us share good practice and ways of working together with the academic curriculum.
We will be developing the information on our various different subject guides (on libguides) and working with the D@L champions within the schools to improve the subject discipline specific information.
The Subject Librarians will also be working on identifying sections/books within the print collection which are either
Problematic in content due to coloniality or
Identify those sections/books which highlight marginalised or underpresented voices
The aim of this is to utilise the School of Design/Library competition winning design which will be used on shelf-end and bookmarks with explanations. This will include highlighting the systemic bias of the Dewey Decimal system.
I hope to invite speakers to an away day in the future and have a themed day on decolonising and EDI issues including the difference between them.
And colleagues have started working on embedding these themes into our Information literacy and critical thinking aspects of the skills workshops. Goldsmiths also do something already around this with their ‘resistance researching workshops’ which are designed to help students think more critically from a social justice perspective.
And finally, there is also an extra zine project I am working on which still needs to take shape. I successfully secured funding for a Reimagining Lincolnshire zine with the aim to amplify hidden voices from Lincolnshire’s past, but reflect on these alongside the lives of people living in Lincolnshire today. The zine will also include reflections and responses from students and staff at the University of Lincoln and people outside of the University – these could be creative responses or reflections on the past stories – or how the colonial past has impacted their own lives today or their experiences of Lincolnshire. This is ongoing but I will get it done! The problem is I have too many ideas and not enough time!
To conclude, I referred to Naomi’s talk earlier and in particular she spoke about the fact that Higher Education is ignoring the impact around the technology we use with – assumptions made from western perspectives and our over reliance on the internet which means – we are largely ignoring the knowledge from marginalised communities. One example of this is the oral word.
When we are thinking about decolonising we need to take into account different forms of knowledge from different people and not just prioritise Western forms of knowledge. I would recommend listening to Naomi’s talk on this issue in relation to our reliance on technology and commercialisation of Higher Education.
I think the technology and the commercial aspects of the University are so embedded in everything we do, that this prohibits us from really moving forward with decolonising work. My starting point at Lincoln has been around trying to get involved in conversations and bringing that knowledge and those questions back to the Library and then trying to make some creative and practical changes to help with the conversations. I cannot claim that it would even be possible to decolonise the University of Lincoln Library in my lifetime or at all. But what I can do, is raise awareness, encourage discussion, involve students and staff in thinking about the issues and be creative about working with the collections we have.
Denver Hendricks is an Senior Lecturer in Interior Architecture and Design. He is a mixed-race Professional Architect, Tertiary Design Educator and Researcher who was part of the drive towards the decolonial and digital pedagogical transformation in South Africa. Previously he was a full-time lecturer at the University of Johannesburg, where he tought design, technology and theory. Through his innovative pedagogical approach to design education, he established the Fabrication Laboratory at the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture and is the designated Development Coordinator. His focus in education is on developing collaborative 21-century curricula and research which embraces both decolonisation and digital design methods of tomorrow. Denver was Head of the Department of Architecture from 2017 to 2021 and now pursuing a PhD in alternative and innovative pedagogies. He also has almost 20 years of practice experience in public, residential and commercial architecture and urban design.
His studies include a Masters in Urban Studies, A postgraduate degree in Architecture and undergraduate diplomas in architectural technology. He won both the Housing Development Agency and PG Bison Awards during his final year of studies. He has completed short courses in material studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is an external examiner for architecture schools in South Africa, sits on examination panels and was invited to talk at institutions in New York, Italy and the United Kingdom. He also has a strong international network of academic peers.
Dr Simon Obendorf from the University of Lincoln reflects on the Library building and it’s colonial past.
“The Great Central Warehouse Library building, in its site, purpose and physical structure, provides us with many opportunities to reflect on Britain’s colonial pasts. Built on a site first identified by the Romans as an ideal harbour for their “Colony on the Lindum” (Lindum Colonia – Colony by the Dark Pool), the site was used as a hub for trade across Roman Britain and out to other parts of the Roman Empire. As the United Kingdom gained – and gained from – its own Empire, the site on the Brayford was expanded and strengthened to become a key transshipment point between water-based and railway transport. In 1907, the Great Central Goods and Grain Warehouse (our present-day Library) was opened. In its physical structure, the building embodied the global reach of Britain’s colonial power at its height. The huge 16.5m long pine beams that hold up the roof, and on which the original winching machinery was installed, were shipped to Lincoln all the way from Canada. The warehouse itself served as a focal point for an increasingly globalised trade: a building in which the goods of empire were organised, sorted and sent on to destinations across Britain and around a globe that had been reshaped by colonialism. Today, the Warehouse – and its new Library occupant – plays a similar role in collating, organising and sharing forms of knowledge. The history of this building should inspire us to ask: what sorts of knowledge “goods” are organised and catalogued here? Who is able to access and benefit from this warehouse of knowledge? Our hope is that, just as the physical form of the Warehouse has been disrupted and given new purpose by its architectural transformation into the University Library, we can transform and decolonise our collecting, cataloguing, knowledge sharing and librarianship to better reflect a post-imperial, plural United Kingdom – and to better serve the global community of scholarship, research, pedagogy and practice of which we are a part”.
Dr Simon Obendorf
School of Social and Political Sciences
College of Social Science
Decolonising is a term that you may have heard a lot about recently as it has gained traction in Higher Education in recent years. At Lincoln, several key groups have been set up to discuss what it means to us as an institution and how we are going to move forward to address the issues.
Decolonisation of HE originated as a movement 20 years ago to ensure that the knowledge and practices of indigenous people were represented in the HE curricula of post-colonial countries.
“More recently the ‘decolonising the curriculum’ agenda was reignited in South Africa in 2015 with the “Rhodes Must Fall” movement, where students demanded the removal of the statue to the colonialist, Cecil Rhodes, and for indigenous knowledge to be placed on an equal footing in the curriculum with that from the global north. This agenda has gained momentum in the UK, led by the National Union of Students ‘Why is my curriculum white?’ campaign which suggests that while the Arts and Humanities disciplines have the most work to do regarding decolonisation, all subjects have opportunities to reconsider teaching matter”. Dr Neil Williams, Kingston University
So, the opposite of a decolonised curriculum is a colonial curriculum. A colonial curriculum is:
Unrepresentative because it selects particular teachings and excludes others
Inaccessible because it consequently prevents recipients of the teaching from identifying with the narrative (but appealing to the historically favoured demographic)
Privileged because it continues to ensure that this select group of people is the dominant narrative
As a University, we have committed to recognise and uphold the five principles of our One Community Values: equality, understanding, listening, kindness, acceptance. The present project of decolonising our curriculum and pedagogy flows from and embeds this commitment. This means that we should critically question the ways our scholarship, teaching and practice have been shaped and look at ways that the Library is able to contribute.Historically, the voices of Black, Indigenous and other non-White people have been silenced, misrepresented or suppressed. This is the key focus where we can engage with decolonisation across the University. We must also remember to situate our thoughts and actions around this with the intersecting aspects of gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, dis/ability and/or religion.
Everyone in the University can play a part in thinking about these issues – thinking about the sources of knowledge that have been marginalised and drawing on a broader range of voices, ideas, approaches and intellectual perspectives.
The Library is an integral part of this way of thinking. It also goes way beyond adding a few extra texts to a reading list. It is also a different but linked agenda to the work around Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
To decolonise, not just to diversify, recognises that knowledge is marked by power relations in which straight, white, hetero upper class men, still have disproportinate prominence.
From the Library, Hope Williard and Oonagh Monaghan are on the Decolonising steering and working groups. Hope and Claire Arrand are also on the Reimagining Lincolnshire group. Hope and Oonagh have attended various related conferences and events over the last couple of years and recently contributed to the University of Lincoln IMPact Journal which is a peer-reviewed, open access journal. The article ‘Critical reflections and collaborative approaches to the University of Lincoln’s decolonising projects: A library perspective‘ was included as part of a special issue on ‘Race matters: towards and Anti-praxis in higher education’ and was a reflection of the these events and how they have influenced planning and practice for the future in the Library at UoL.
Decoloniality at Lincoln Toolkit
The Library toolkit is designed for everyone in the University community to understand more about decolonisation work. https://guides.library.lincoln.ac.uk/DecolonialityAtLincoln This currently sits under the ‘Learn’ menu of the Library Website but there are plans to highlight this more during the University year.
There is no simple ‘to do’ list or quick fix to decolonise the Library but we take our starting point from thinking critically about our current practices and policies. Critical librarianship aims to put issues of social justice at the centre of everything we do.
What are we doing as part of our equality and diversity practices?
Do we represent the lived experiences of the people who work and study in the University and Library?
Do we collaborate with our users and enable exploration of the collections in new ways? What does our collection consist of?
How do we decide what is in the collection?How can we amplify marginalised voices? How can we challenge the status quo?
If we take action in our policies and interpret and disseminate what is in our collections, more students and staff will be able to understand what decolonisation is and how the Library and it’s engagement with staff and students is instrumental in the wider processes underway in schools and colleges.
Watch this space for the next steps in the Library…..
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