Action on anti-racism in UK theatre, dance and performance studies

As a white UK-based academic working in white-dominated discipline with an ongoing history of structural discrimination and institutional racism, I need to take active responsibility for my own role in working change.

Some relevant context: White Colleague Listen! –

This is a short note of some of the processes and actions that I am currently undertaking and which I will develop, update and grow over time – I am posting it here to aid my own reflection and as one mode of accountability. This list is not intended to solicit external validation. However, if you are a colleague reading this who has suggestions for something else I could/should do or resources that might drive this work, please get in touch.

  • I’ve started with the relatively low-hanging fruit of revising the courses which I lead at the University of Glasgow: this goes beyond adding new texts to reading lists to reconsider and replace case studies and theoretical/critical points of reference, as well as their relationship to colonial histories that shape the context of their production and study. Part of this ongoing process involves an interrogation of what I take for granted in terms of canonical or traditional points of reference or disciplinary sources of knowledge – in plainer language, the judgments that shape what I assume to be ‘essential’ and what is either optional ‘further reading’ or simply ignored.
  • One Honours/PG level course was revised for delivery in semester one of the academic year 2020/21, though will need further work; I have also updated my contributions to first year teaching in 2019/20 and 2020/21 to focus on the relationship between performance and Scotland / UoG’s colonial histories, and introduce intersectional approaches to performance analysis. A course on Live Art – taught in autumn 2022 – was revised to embed a broad range of artists and critics from beyond the existing canon of white European practitioners.
  • I am undertaking anti-racism training, focusing on my work and role within the Scottish arts sector.
  • I am taking part in a reading/discussion group with white friends that explores and challenges our responses (and lack of responses) to racism. I am actively talking with my family and friends about race and racism.
  • I will be working with white colleagues at institutions across the UK in support of resources / accountability for other white theatre, dance and performance studies colleagues seeking to work change in their own practice.
  • I am working with colleagues in TS at UoG to identify and practice further actions – individually and as teams – that will embed anti-racism in our work, acknowledging the limitations and failures of our work to date. This ongoing work involves some of the actions noted above (e.g. reviewing our teaching provision and guest speakers series) and consulting with our student body.
  • I’m working with my institution to improve support and information for students who experience hate crime, recognising the need for specific guidance for queer, trans, Black and global majority students beyond the generic references to bullying and harassment.

Last updated 4/5/22