As the Oxford Heritage team puts it, “the recent decision by Oriel College to begin the legal process to remove a statue of Cecil Rhodes from the façade of one of their college buildings on Oxford’s High Street highlights the extent to which the global conversations about decolonisation and Black Lives Matter also have deep roots and resonances within Oxford’s architecture and history.”
For the fifteenth week of TORCH Goes Digital therefore, we focused on the theme of Decolonising the Curriculum. Popular content included Ruth Simmons on Race and the Curriculum, Hiphop, Knowledge, and the Academy and Mainstreaming Black Power.
From 2018 onwards, the Heritage Seed Fund has enabled and supported a range of international projects that have aimed to decolonise heritage sites, open up new research avenues, and support the development of partnerships between academics and heritage organisations around the world.
Professor Dan Hicks’ recent #MuseumsUnlocked Twitter campaign has been a lockdown hit, and was awarded funding to support ‘African Cultural Heritage in British Museums: Widening the Dialogue’. Marenka Odlum-Thompson and Dr Ashley Coutu’s Heritage Seed Fund project, ‘Resisting Silence: Revealing everyday lives of plantations through material, oral, and archival histories’ pivots across the Atlantic to explore the archaeological remnants of the transatlantic slave trade.
As part of the Great Writers Inspire at Home series, the Postcolonial Writing and Theory Seminar Series, and the Postcolonial Writers Make Worlds project, we looked back at a conversation between Reni Eddo-Lodge (author of Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race and winner of the Jhalak Prize 2018) and Dr Rebecca Surender (Pro Vice-Chancellor and Advocate for Diversity, University of Oxford).
On the evening of Thursday 2 July, we had our thirteenth Big Tent, Live Events! live-streamed event, with Homi K. Bhabha, Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University, and Professor Margaret MacMillan (History Faculty). They discussed ‘On Being Unprepared (For Our Own Times)', and covered topics such as George Floyd's death ("A brazen act of violence resembling a public execution") and the Covid-19 pandemic, and the future of international relations.