I am Evelyn, BILT’s ‘Decolonising the Curriculum’ student research fellow this year.
Who am I?
I am a multidisciplinary creative and a ‘Sociology and Quantitative Research Methods BSc’ student at the University of Bristol. I am also a co-founder of Juice Magazine, a South Asian collective and magazine facilitated by and for creatives, writers, and artists from the South Asian diaspora and a freelance arts facilitator. Recent projects I have facilitated include an ‘Editor-in-Chief’ experience with the young people of Bristol-based charity, Integrate UK, and a ‘Chronically Creative’ zine in partnership with Cysters.
As a creative and sociologist, all the work I do is grounded in my central aim to combine my sociological imagination with creativity to facilitate space for radical, imaginative, and critical learning. The sociological imagination, as famously defined by C. Wright Mills, demands “the vivid awareness of the relationship between personal experience and the wider society” – personal troubles are inherently public issues. As a South Asian woman navigating the University of Bristol – an institution founded on and presently informed by colonial hierarchies and practices – my “personal troubles” connect to a public problem. The wider public issue here is that universities are not a “neutral” space of learning but are informed by colonial legacies and hierarchies. With this, the voices and stories of people of colour – particularly those living in the global south – are often suppressed, negatively impacting the learning and experiences of students of colour
My experiences at the university led me to connect with other students who felt that the curriculum didn’t reflect their experiences or voices. Following this, we established DecolSPAIS in 2020. It is a working group which aims to bring university of Bristol students and staff together to work towards decolonising the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies (SPAIS). Further details of the working group and its progress can be read on the Secrecy, Power and Ignorance Research (SPIN) network’s blogpost. Beyond our work within the SPAIS department, DecolSPAIS has contributed to the fabric of wider university endeavours around decolonising the curriculum
So what is ‘Decolonising the Curriculum’ and what will I be doing?
Sociologist and Professor of Postcolonial and Decolonial Studies, Gurminder Bhambra, has presented a radical argument to challenge and resist coloniality in and beyond the classroom in Decolonising the University. In the book, students, activists and scholars define the process of decolonisation as not just concerned with curricula but rather as a process which seeks to dismantle and overturn the hegemonic narratives presented to us in universities, the ‘home of the coloniser, in the heart of establishment’.
Drawing from the work of anti-activists and scholars, I’m particularly interested in exploring alternative, decolonial methods of knowledge sharing and learning which encourage critical thinking and creativity. BILT has already been involved in decolonising efforts and BILT student fellows, Rhona Wilkinson and Sama Zou’bi, recently produced the Decolonising the Curriculum Interview Series. I’m excited to be working with BILT, learning from these projects and thinking creatively about ‘decoloniality’.
Keep updated with what I’m up to via BILT’s blog and socials. You can also find out more about me and my work at www.evelynmiller.co.uk.