On Thurs 14 June staff from UAL and Arts SU, and UAL students, came together to celebrate the official launch of a new zine, ‘Decolonising the Arts Curriculum: Perspectives on Higher Education.’
Lucy Panesar, Educational Developer (Diversity & Inclusion), Teaching & Learning Exchange
Over the last six months the Teaching and Learning Exchange has been working with the Arts Students Union to co-create a zine for staff and students to share thoughts, views and experiences of decolonising the arts curriculum in higher education.
Hansika Jethnani (Arts SU Education Officer 2016-2018), Rahul Patel (Researcher, Curator and Lecturer) and I came together because of our shared determination for race equality and our understanding that decolonisation plays a critical role in this. We identified the need for a platform to discuss decolonisation specifically in relation to the arts curriculum. It was essential that such a platform would be supported by the institution and would allow for diverse perspectives, on this complex and contested topic, from both students and staff at UAL. The decision was made to co-produce a zine, as a way of breaking down some of the barriers to expression that traditional academic publishing can create.
A call for submissions was made in March, and a wealth of responses were received on the why, what and how of decolonisation in relation to arts education in general and specific creative practices. All submissions have been included, and offer personal, professional, creative and critical insights through a range of literary and visual media.
The launch event was held at UAL Central Saint Martins with a display of some of the zine contents. Hansika and I opened the event with some background to the zine’s production, and then Rahul invited contributors up to the stage to speak.
It was at this moment that we recognised what it was we have created, when hearing the contributors explain how important it has been for them to have space to share their experiences in relation to decolonisation, and inevitably colonisation. Contributors spoke of their own ethnic and national identities in relation to Britain’s colonial past and ‘multi-cultural’ present. They spoke of the current political situation affecting those of the Windrush generation, of islamophobia, and other forms of prejudice and discrimination based on race and nationality which affect both students and staff.
We hope that the zine will be supportive in this respect, whilst also contributing to wider discourses around decolonisation, and helping to inform developments in arts education, for the benefit of all of our community. And we hope for the discussion to continue through further events and the online platform, which has been set up for further perspectives to be shared.
The zine launch display at is open and accessible to the general public in the reception area at UAL Central Saint Martins (King’s Cross) until 9 July.
UAL staff can access the zine online here online here: http://decolonisingtheartscurriculum.myblog.arts.ac.uk/
If you are external to UAL the zine can also be accessed online here.