Decolonise University of Kent: Voices of (Un)Belonging – 11 March 2020

All welcome to the next Decolonise Uok event on Wednesday 11 March in Canterbury, Kent.·         Sign up for the Deocolonial Walk from 1.15-1.45 here:https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/decolonial-walks-tickets-93110035623 and·         the ticketed event from 2pm featuring rapper, educator, activist Lowkey (before he starts his UK tour) here:https://thegulbenkian.co.uk/events/lowkey-with-decoloniseuok-voices-of-unbelonging/First 200 tickets free for students.

Queer and Muslim: A Critical Islamic Reading 29 Feb- 1 March 2020

This in-depth critical reading course entitled “Queer and Muslim: A Critical Islamic Reading” will take place on the weekend of Saturday 29th Feb- Sunday 1st March. The course will be lead by Prof. wadud and will introduce an Islamic methodology of reading the Qur’an for the context in which we are living as a priority over text, to give a limited number of participants an opportunity to learn first-hand how to engage with canonical texts in Islam when they do not seem inclusive enough or applicable to our current realities.

This intensive weekend course is for people of colour only and we want to prioritise Black Muslims and Black Queer Muslims. The course costs £50 (which is heavily subsidised) and we have bursaries available, for which we will also prioritise Black Muslims and Black Queer Muslims.

Want to be an ally to trans folks? Here are some things you can do – Gee Semmalar

Trans Day of Remembrance and Resilience (TDOR) 20th November 2019

History

Rita Hester, a black transgender woman was stabbed 20 times in her own apartment and later died at a hospital in Boston in 1998. The murderer who was alleged to be a cis, white male was never caught. The transgender day of remembrance emerged as an outpouring of grief and rage of black trans communities against the hate crimes and murders of trans people in general and black and Latino trans women in particular. November 20th came to be observed globally as Transgender Day of Remembrance in various countries.

Why it is important

Trans people compounded by our race, caste, religious and class locations routinely face disproportionate amounts of violence and hate crimes to this day.1 The violence continues even after death when we are misgendered in news reports about our death or dead named or buried according to rituals specific to a gender we rejected while we are alive.

TDOR is a day when we remember and memorialize the people we lost. TDOR is a day that we come together because nobody else remembers the people we lost, not even the families we were born into.

What can you do?

The NGO industrial complex, especially the non-trans led non-profits scramble at this time of the year to get the names of trans people murdered in the past year for their TDOR programmes. What can you do, as an ally to move beyond these tokenistic, performative solidarity gestures?

  • Push for employing trans people in your workplaces. Pass on freelance paid work to trans people.
  • Fight in your families for trans kids to be accepted and not disowned
  •  Pressurise the govt to pass and implement laws that actually empower trans people.
  • Push for cases to be registered when trans folks face sexual/physical/verbal/police/public/familial violence. Join protest actions. Pressurise local administrations to ensure justice.
  • Support housing projects for trans folks.
  • Call out transphobic jokes. Have a zero tolerance policy for trans misogyny.
  • Reach out to support trans folks in any way possible when we are depressed or need help.
  • Work on your own prejudices relentlessly. Educate yourselves and others on trans issues.
  •  Make healthcare accessible for us. Push for an anti-discrimination policy in your health centres/ hospitals /clinics
  • Lend spaces to trans people at subsidised rates/free for the purpose of shelter/creative arts practices/ running our independent collectives for social change.
  • If you are making a film on trans people, involve us in your script writing, enable us to decide how we are represented. Do not cast us as objects of ridicule or as mere victims.
  •  If you see a trans person being misgendered in media, write to the editors, tag the newspaper on social media, demand a rectification and public apology.
  •  If you see a trans person being harassed in public or private spaces, intervene. Don’t look away. Stop the harassment. Make sure you let the perpetrator and onlookers know it’s not okay
  • If you are a teacher, talk about trans issues in your class. Prescribe readings to sensitise your students. Have open discussions in class about non-normative genders and sexualities.
  • Support trans issues as a cis person. But be sure to step back from spaces that belong to trans folks who want to share experiences and strategies internally. Allyship is as much about stepping back as it is about stepping forward. Be self critical in your solidarity.
  • It doesn’t matter how long you have known a person or in what capacity. Always use the person’s chosen name and gender. Familiarity or a long term relationship is no excuse for dead naming or misgendering.
  • Do not place the burden of breaking the binary on trans folks are oppressed by it. Do not shame binarian trans expressions. The binary is often self-affirming and a place of safety from harassment for some trans people.
  • Accept gender diversity and expressions. Do not impose your notions of who is an “authentic” trans person based on physiological/medicalised pre-requisites or understandings.
  • Figure out more ways to keep us alive.

1. For further information please refer to the essay by Joao Gabriell, “In Defense of a Radical Trans Perspective in the French Context.” Decolonizing Sexualities eds. Bakshi, Jivraj and Posocco, Counterpress, 2016, pp. 60-70.

Art work – © Sabari, Kerala

Sabari. Disabled Individual. Freelance artist. Postgraduate in English language and literature.

Gee Semmalar. Trans individual. Activist /artist. PhD student in Law at the University of Kent, UK.

Letter published in The Independent, 5 Sep 2019

The government is hijacking LGBT+ sex education to bolster its counterterrorism strategy – it must stop now

Letter in The Independent, 5 Sep 2019 – Signed by the DSN

As LGBT+ individuals, and organisations that support LGBT+ communities, we are concerned by the way that Muslim communities have been framed by both government and media in relation to the teaching of LGBT+-inclusive Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) in primary schools.

We support the inclusion of LGBT+ identities within RSE at both primary- and secondary-school level. However, we reject the ways in which LGBT+ issues are being deployed in the government’s discourse about the requirement to teach “Fundamental British Values” as part of their “Prevent” counter-extremism and counterterrorism strategies.

The government’s claim that teaching LGBT+-inclusive RSE constitutes the promotion of “Fundamental British Values” is highly hypocritical. Let us not forget that it was Britain that implemented anti-sodomy laws across its empire, and it is Britain that continues to deport LGBT+ people seeking asylum from those very laws. It is worth remembering that the 21 MPs who voted against the new LGBT+-inclusive guidance on compulsory RSE earlier this year were predominantly white British men from the Conservative Party and the DUP. Our (unelected) prime minister Boris Johnson has a history of making homophobic remarks, including attacking Labour for encouraging the teaching of homosexuality in schools and describing gay men as “bumboys”.   

The “No Outsiders” LGBT+ inclusion programme, as a brand adopted by teacher Andrew Moffat, has become highly problematic in its association with the government’s counter-extremism strategy. It was described in a PowerPoint presented by headteacher Hazel Pulley as part of the school’s strategy to “reduce radicalisation”.

The way that “No Outsiders” has been implemented and the wider embrace of LGBT+-inclusive RSE as the poster-child for the implementation of “Fundamental British Values” suggests a colonial “civilising” attitude towards Muslim communities, and contributes to a harmful and inaccurate stereotype of an uncivilised and intolerant Muslim culture.

Prevent is widely acknowledged to place excessive scrutiny and surveillance on Muslim children. The strategy has been widely denounced by human and civil rights organisations, with Rights Watch referring to it as “the systematic breach of children’s human rights in the school setting”. 

Homophobia exists in Muslim communities – as it does in every community. Yet the spotlight on Muslim communities and the moral panic that has ensued demonstrates that Muslims are an easy target for accusations of homophobia which can be used to demonise entire communities. Mainstream media coverage of the events in Birmingham has encouraged the spectacle of the protests, inaccurately singled out one specific community as universally homophobic, and excluded more critical LGBT+ voices. As LGBT+ people, we condemn the cynical use of our identities as a form of dog-whistle racism, which is being mobilised to justify harmful policies of state surveillance and the criminalisation of Muslim communities. 

More than ever, young people of all faiths and none need safe spaces to discuss and learn about consent, healthy relationships, gender, sexuality and identity. As LGBT+ people, we must resist efforts to coopt these urgent issues. We must connect our struggles against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia to the fight against racism.

Our demands:

  • The Department for Education (DfE) must offer clear guidance for the delivery of LGBT+ inclusive education in schools serving all our communities, produced in dialogue with LGBT+ groups, and including LGBT+ faith organisations.
  • DfE guidance must stress that schools should teach LGBT+-inclusive RSE as part of the usual RSE curriculum and not as specific to the promotion of “Fundamental British Values.”
  • There cannot be honest and trusting relationships between schools and communities while the Prevent policy is in place – we recommend that Prevent is abolished immediately. 

Inclusive Mosque Initiative  
Maslaha 
Purple Rain Collective  
Pride of Arabia  
Femmes of Colour  
Level Up
Madaniya Sudan Diaspora Global
Devil’s Dyke Network
East End Sisters Uncut  
Dr Sita Balani, King’s College London 
Professor Judith Butler, University of California Berkeley 
Desiree Akhavan (director, producer, screenwriter, actress)
Nazmia Jamal (teacher)
Frankie Muggleton (teacher)
Neil Hart (teacher)
Malak Obaidi (teacher) 
Kiren Mirza (teacher) 
Jay Bernard (writer)     
Dr Humaira Saeed   
Dr Nadine El-Enany, Birkbeck, University of London
Dr Sarah Keenan, Birkbeck, University of London
Dr Rahul Rao, SOAS University of London
Dr Suhraiya Jivraj, Director of the Centre for Sexuality, Race & Gender Justice, Kent Law School, University of Kent
Dr Jen Slater, Sheffield Hallam University
Professor Donatella Alessandrini, SeRGJ, Kent Law School
Dr Sinead Ring, SerGJ, Maynooth University Department of Law
Somak Biswas, University of Warwick
Sara Bamdad, University of Warwick 
Ajamu X (artist)  
Tobi Adebajo (artist)
Dr Dzifa Afonu (clinical psychologist)
Dr Navtej Purewal, SOAS University of London   
Dr Deborah Grayson   
Dr Caoimhe Mader McGuiness, Kingston University   
Dr Alyosxa Tudor, School of African and Oriental Studies,
Sarah Golightley, University of Edinburgh
Dr Nat Raha   
Dr Sam Solomon, University of Sussex 
Katharine Terrell, Sheffield Hallam University
Dr Tanya Serisier, Birkbeck College, University of London   
Dr Başak Ertür, Birkbeck, University of London   
Dr Eddie Bruce-Jones, Birkbeck, University of London
Dr Gail Lewis
Decolonizing Sexualities Network 
Anisa De Jong, University of Kent 
Dr Sandeep Bakhshi, University of Paris Diderot
Dr Silvia Posocco, Birkbeck, University of London
Zinzi Minott (dancer/artist)    
Lola Olufemi (writer/activist) 
Sara Sassanelli, Institute of Contemporary Arts 
Ifeanyi Awachie, Institute of Contemporary Arts
Len Lukowski (writer)
Emily Nunn (librarian)
Dr Ros Murray, King’s College London
Ochi Reyes, Westminster University, Adult Learning Lewisham and Brampton College
Dr Kyoung Kim, Feminist Review Journal 
Dr Daniel Luther, SOAS University of London
Syma Tariq, CRiSAP, University of the Arts London  
Irene Revell, CRiSAP, University of the Arts London
Ceylan Begüm Yıldız, Birkbeck, University of London 
Timothy Smith, CRiSAP, University of the Arts London  
Dr Terese Jonsson
Lani Parker, Sideways Times
Dr Vanja Hamzić, SOAS University of London
Zia Álmos Joshua
Mumbi Nkonde (community activist)
Sanah Ahsan (Trainee Clinical Psychologist, Poet, journalist)  
Aisha Mirza (writer/ DJ)  
Sabah Choudrey (youth worker/writer)
Sharan Dhaliwal (editor Burnt Roti)
Molly Ackhurst (community organiser/activist)
Imani Robinson (artist/curator)  
Dr Serkan Delice, London College of Fashion

Original: https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/letters/lgbt-no-outsiders-rse-birmingham-muslim-prevent-values-a9092781.html

June 2019 – Interview of Assistant Professor Asim Siddiqui (Azim Premji University, Bangalore) by Anamika Misra (Phd Student, Kent Law School, University of Kent)

Anamika Misra (PhD Student Kent Law School, University of Kent) interviews Assistant Professor Asim Siddiqui during his visit to the Centre for Sexuality, Race and Gender Justice (SeRGJ) at the University of Kent, June 2019

Nationalist articulation of Decolonizing Universities: Two sides of the same coin​

With the re-election of the Hindutva Nationalist regime in India, the systematic destruction of the Universities with a neoliberal and hyper-nationalist agenda is bound to take an ugly turn. Under the garb of Decolonizing Universities, the nationalist critique perpetuates the Brahminical domination of public Universities in India, a fact that Ambedkar foresaw at the time of independence and setup few constitutional provisions for making a decolonized and debrahminized society, in which higher education played one of the most important roles. Instant of deepening the Ambedkarite project, Hindutva nationalists have systematically worked towards undermining the Constitution and the Universities have been their prime target. In this talk, I would argue that nationalist critique of colonization is merely another side of the same coin and true decolonization in South Asia necessarily includes Debrahminization of the University, by drawing upon the experiences of the Ambedkarite-Feminist Collective in Azim Premji University. ​

 

Asim Siddiqui is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the Azim Premji University Bangalore. In his work as a teacher, researcher and socio-cultural worker, he works towards issues of cultural and ecological justice by drawing upon various philosophical traditions from India and outside, in terms of both intellectual and embodied practices. His doctoral research and current educational experiments have been in developing an aesthetic-contemplative pedagogy for engaging with contemporary socio-political issues. Outside University, he does dramaturgy, consultancy and experiential education workshops for various art and developmental organizations. In his previous avatar, he has worked with NGOs and technology start-ups, along with getting an undergraduate degree from IIT Delhi.