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Equality, Diversity & Inclusion


This event will be online via Zoom.

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Keynote Speaker: Professor Robbie Shilliam

Legacies of the Imperial Academy

In this talk, Professor Robbie Shilliam will examine the apprehension, expressed in recent debates over Rhodes Must Fall Oxford, that racial identity claims are ill fitting for the ethos of higher education. He argues that much more than Rhodes’ statue implicates the British academy in the Empire’s southern African interests. 

Professor Shilliam excavates a genealogy of academic debates regarding the effects of an increased proximity of Black presence to empire’s metropolitan spaces. These debates, he will show, were initiated by social anthropologists in the inter-war years primarily (albeit not solely) with regards to studies of southern Africa’s urbanizing spaces. What is more, such debates were highly influential to the study of ‘race relations’ in Britain’s post-war era of Commonwealth immigration. Critically, all these debates problematized the cognitive competency of African/Black peoples to inhabit Britain’s educational institutions in ways that were not destabilizing of imperial order. 

He will make the case that current campus campaigns such as RMF should not be evaluated against an ideal image of the academy; rather, these campaigns seek to address imperial legacies that always made the academy fall short of that image.

Robbie Shilliam is Professor of International Relations at Johns Hopkins University and author of the recently published book, Decolonizing Politics (Polity Press, 2021). His research focuses on the political and intellectual complicities of colonialism and race in the global order, with a particular interest in the Rastafari movement. Professor Shilliam’s extensive work with elders of the Rastafari movement as well as community and academic intellectuals led him to co-curate ‘Rastafari in Motion’, a resource which highlights the history of the Rastafari movement in Britain. Alongside his academic research, Professor Shilliam is a member of the Global Development section of the International Studies Association and the School of the Sacrament Rastafari University.


Thursday, 26 October, 2023 - 17:30 to 18:30
Event location: 
Zoom Video Conferencing