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The Cluster’s Gender and Diversity Office presents the Intersectionality and Critical Diversity Literacy (ICDL) Lecture / Workshop Series

24.01.2020, 11.00 - 12.30
Iwalewahaus Auditorium

The Cluster’s Gender and Diversity Office presents the Intersectionality and Critical Diversity Literacy (ICDL) Lecture / Workshop Series

Stella Dadzie

“Black Women Organising: Past Imperfect, Future Tense…”

Date: Friday, 24 January 2020

11:00 am to 12:30 pm: public lecture and Q & A

Venue: Iwalewahaus Auditorium

The second event of the Cluster GDO’s Intersectional and Critical Diversity Literacy (ICDL) lecture and workshop series will feature the Black British educator and feminist activist Stella Dadzie, based in London. Located at the critical interface of education and social justice activism, Stella’s work proffers pragmatic linkages between academic sites and methodologies of knowledge production and current political activities in Black British sociocultural contexts.

Stella Dadzie is a published writer and historian, best known for The Heart of the Race: Black Women's lives in Britain, which won the 1985 Martin Luther King Award for Literature, and was re-published by Verso in 2018 as a Feminist Classic. She is a founder member of OWAAD (Organisation of Women of African and Asian Descent), a national umbrella group for Black women that emerged in the late 1970s as part of the British Civil Rights movement.  She was recently described as one of the “grandmothers“ of Black Feminism in the UK, and her personal archive in Brixton‘s Black Cultural Archives is one of the most visited by researchers and scholars.  

Her career as a writer, artist and education activist spans over 40 years. She has produced numerous publications and resources aimed at promoting an inclusive curriculum and good practice with black adult learners and other minorities, including resources to decolonise and diversify the UK national curriculum in schools and colleges. She is wellknown within the UK for her contribution to tackling youth racism and working with racist perpetrators, and is a key contributor to the development of anti-racist strategies with schools, colleges and youth services.   In November 2003, she received the NBM (Network for Black Managers) Award for Outstanding Contributions to Race Equality in Further Education. She has run workshops and spoken at conferences in Germany, Slovenia, Poland, Norway, South Africa, the USA, Hong Kong and Malaysia, and was a guest lecturer at Harvard University in 2018. 

She appeared in And Still I Rise (Kanayo E. Onwurah et al. New York: Women Make Movies (1993); E-Video 2010; see https://www.worldcat.org/title/and-still-i-rise/oclc/173818639), a documentary exploring the social and historical origins of stereotypes of African women. She was a guest of Germaine Greer on her BBC2 discussion programme, The Last Word.  She was also a Commissioner on the Mayor of London‘s African and Asian Heritage Commission, which aimed to promote more diversity across London‘s heritage sector.

Stella‘s poetry has also been published in

Tempa Tupu! Africana Women‘s Poetic Self-Portrait. Africa World Press, 2008.

New Daughters of Africa, An International Anthology of Writing by Women of African Descent. ed. Margaret Busby. Myriad, 2018.

Abstract: Black Women Organising: Past Imperfect, Future Tense…

In her lecture, Stella Dadzie will explore the premise that history has been written by men, for men, and thus records largely what men wish to see (see Barbara Bush, 1989), by recalling a history of struggle and resistance that is both uniquely female and a testimony to black African women’s power and resilience.  Historical knowledge production has, until recently, ensured that enslaved women were 'airbrushed' out of the picture, but by revisiting the primary sources, and challenging the assumptions of white, male historians, a different narrative is emerging that acknowledges their centrality in the demise of West Indian slavery

In particular, she will discuss the role of women in the Transatlantic Slave Trade, and the ways they used the ‘peculiar burdens of their sex’ to subvert and resist the institution of slavery. She will go on to explore how this heritage of resistance enabled black women to survive the triple burdens of race, gender and class that confronted them when they emigrated to Britain in the 1950s and 1960s and found themselves in the frontline of the UK Civil Rights movement.  Their early understanding of the impact of intersectionality on black women's lives paved the way for a more nuanced understanding of social and structural inequality that still resonates today.

In conclusion, Ms. Dadzie will argue that black women’s efforts to challenge racial, sex and class discrimination in the UK and elsewhere remain relevant to today’s young feminists and activists in an era of growing xenophobia and populism. 

In addressing historical dimensions of Black British feminist activism then, Stella’s work can be situated in dialogue with recent political events to be contextualised against the upcoming BrExit moment. These examples include recent reports of the UK’s exclusionary visa policies regarding visitors from African countries (see The Guardian, 8 June 2019, and 18 July 2019), as well as the Empire Windrush Generation (1948) deportation scandal in April 2018 (See BBC.com, 16 and 18 April 2018).

This lecture promises to deliver insights towards knowledge production that may be helpful for the Research Sections Knowledges, Learning, Mobilities and Affiliations. The heuristic angles of spatialities and temporalities especially will be pertinent in considering Black women’s claims to citizenship through particular racialized and gendered African diasporic experiences using an intersectional analytic framework.

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