SOAS’ Ebony Initiative puts on another Summer Institute


Following the successful run of its summer programme last year, over 60 participants attended the Ebony Initiative’s 2nd Annual Summer Methodologies Institute, which took place this summer under the theme ‘Spiritual, Religious, and Psychological Research Methods’.

Participants came from all over the UK with a number of attendees also coming from Europe and North America.

Taking seriously the idea that it is not sufficient to simply increase the presence of people from the global majority in the academy, that we must also change what it means to do research and be a researcher, the Summer Institute is designed to transform the face of research by sharing and promoting liberatory research methodologies.

Extending the reach of the SOAS Ebony Initiative, founded by Althea-Maria Rivas, the Summer Institute created a unique and safe space where Global Majority academics, practitioners, early career researchers and postgraduate students could come together to enhance their research skillset, engage in knowledge exchange, and reflect upon ways to take that learning into and beyond the academy.

As a Black foreign doctoral student, finding spaces or events like the Summer Institute has been difficult. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to meet other melanated academics and be outside of predominantly white spaces for once.

Participant testimonial

This year the Summer Institute was directed by black feminist philosopher Gabriella Beckles-Raymond and featured a diverse and dynamic line-up of national and international scholars, activists and practitioners from the global majority who are leading the way for the future of liberatory research practice.

Over the two days sessions were led by Elvis Imafidon (SOAS), James Caron (SOAS), Linos Wengara Magaya (SOAS), Tahir Zaman (Sussex), Lubumbe Van de Velde (UBYLULU Ltd), and Gifford Rhamie (Rockstone Consultancy), Reverend Natasha Beckles (London Diocese), and William Ackah (Birkbeck).

Interactive workshops were led by Professor Robert Beckford’s (Winchester), Professor Navtej Purewal (SOAS), Professor Shawn Sobers (UWE), Althea-Maria Rivas (SOAS), and Astrid Jamar (Antwerp). More details about the workshops is available on Eventbrite.

The programme also featured world class performances by African and Caribbean musicians and dancers including Kadialy Kouyate, the Irie! Dance Company, Dr. H Patten, Adrian Crazylegz and Miss Rose UK.

In addition to the quality of the workshops, participants really valued making connections with other racialised academics and students. One of the important outcomes of the Institute is the opportunity for networking and shared engagement to happen which can counteract the isolation felt by many racialized postgraduate and early career researchers.

One participant said: “As a Black foreign doctoral student, finding spaces or events like the Summer Institute has been difficult. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to meet other melanated academics and be outside of predominantly white spaces for once.”

“My university severely lacks diversity and the support for thinking from a non-white context, so this felt like having a space to breathe. Words cannot express my gratitude to the Ebony Initiative for putting this event together.”

Another said: “I know so many Black and Brown family members and friends who would deeply value this unique and special learning space.”

A different attendee describes: “Overall, I left day one of the conference feeling very inspired – you create a space for people to be vulnerable and open and explore ideas together in a really productive, healing and intellectually rich way.”

The Summer Institute would not have been possible without the support of a number of SOAS professional services staff including Elizabeth Jackson, Nicole Caliste, Patrick Campbell, Perparim Tashi and Carol Miles.

For more information about the 2022 Summer Institute and to view the full programme, visit Eventbrite.

To learn more about the Ebony Initiative, please contact ebonyinitiative@soas.ac.uk.

Photos taken by Annie Gentil-Kraatz

,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *