The following post is from Foluke Adebisi who starter her BILT Associate role on the theme of evaluation of projects.
I joined the Law School, at the University of Bristol in September 2013. I have an LLM and PhD from Lancaster University both broadly in the area of International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law. Before that I was involved in legal practice as well as NGO work. I joined the Law School as a teaching-focused staff and have remained on pathway 3 throughout my time at the university. My areas of scholarship are focused, among other things, on decolonial thought in legal education. Within UK Higher Education, ‘Decolonial Thought’ is more commonly phrased as ‘Decolonisation’ or ‘Decolonising the Curriculum.’ Its key aims include a disentanglement from, and decentring of, hegemonic/traditional epistemologies and ways of knowing (Escobar 2007; Mbembé 2016; Tuck and Yang 2012). Legal education very much exemplifies these traditional epistemologies. It is due to this entrenched hegemonical nature that in the curating of decolonial strategies, I am hesitant to suggest that a curriculum can be ‘decolonised.’ Hence my use of the phrase ‘decolonial thought.’ This denotes an exploration of decolonisation’s strategies and theories within legal education as well as an adoption of them where possible. Decolonisation emerges as a very specific political project of ending colonial rule in colonised places (Tuck and Yang 2012). The study of incomplete decolonisation in these areas was my point of entry into conceptualising decolonisation as a pedagogical theory and as a praxis. Using this framework, I have worked to support, influence and impact upon colleagues’ practice, both in my law school and other departments, universities, and organisations, filling current gaps on decolonial practice and theory in UK higher education.
An example of how I have engaged with decolonisation to enhance and transform student outcomes in my teaching, is a third-year optional law unit, ‘Law and Race’ which was designed from scratch and coproduced with a colleague [Yvette Russell] as well as some law students. I have also been asked to bring my decolonial work to other units within the law school. For example, I completely designed, lecture and seminar combinations for ‘Rich Law, Poor Law’. Here, I examine the legal conceptualisation of property in law, as a driver of both accumulation and dispossession. My teaching on the LLM in Health, Law and Society focuses on how the legal constitution and understanding of the racialised body, may sometimes be based on historic scientific misconceptions and have continuing negative health impacts.
Furthermore, decolonial thought envisions change beyond the classroom and traditional academic spaces. Therefore in 2017, I set up and have continued to lead the Forever Africa Conference and Events (FACE) initiative, an international and cross-disciplinary network of about 40 academics, students and members of civil society organisations (http://foreverafrica.org/). FACE’s goals include- encouraging interdisciplinary dialogue in decolonising the curriculum, encouraging more Black students to consider academia as a career choice, closing the attainment gap that affects Black students, addressing reduced student satisfaction of Black students, and ensuring institutional engagement with marginal communities in Bristol.
Apart from disseminating expertise through publications in peer-reviewed journals (Adebisi 2021; Adebisi 2016), I also write a widely-read blog which includes pedagogical scholarship – Foluke’s African Skies
I would like to bring my experience in these areas to BILT as I believe this will be a great opportunity to enhance the student experience at the university and also an opportunity to work with colleagues from a range of departments.
Adebisi, Foluke Ifejola. “Decolonising education in Africa: Implementing the right to education by re-appropriating culture and indigeneity.” N. Ir. Legal Q. 67 (2016): 433.
Adebisi, Foluke. “Should We Rethink the Purposes of the Law School? A case for decolonial thought in legal pedagogy.” The Journal of the Society for Advanced Legal Studies (2021): 428.
Escobar, Arturo. “Worlds and Knowledges Otherwise: The Latin American modernity/coloniality research program.” Cultural Studies 21, no. 2-3 (2007): 179-210.
Mbembé, Achille. “Decolonizing the University: New directions.” Arts and Humanities in Higher Education 15, no. 1 (2016): 29-45.
Tuck, Eve, and K. Wayne Yang. “Decolonization is Not a Metaphor.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, education & society 1, no. 1 (2012).