Decolonial Dialogues: A Shared Space for Artists, Activists and Researchers

Decolonial Dialogues is the name of a new WordPress site, established by a group of UK-based, early career social scientists who first met at a workshop on “Decolonising Methodologies” (Friends’ Meeting House, London, 17/10/2019). The event was organised by the Sociological Review Foundation, and convened as a follow-up session to the 2019 Annual Lecture given by Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith (University of Waikato, New Zealand) – “Decolonizing Methodologies: 20 Years On”

Following the workshop, five of the 15 participants engaged in further conversations, and exchanged ideas (via email and social media platforms), about effective ways to apply the decolonial methodologies and ethical research practices espoused by Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith within [our/their] own areas of research, teaching and curriculum development – not only in academic settings, but also within other educational contexts, and the wider creative and cultural sectors.

Specific dialogues between Ph.D. candidate Riadh Ghemmour (Department of Education, University of Exeter) and myself about co-producing inclusive research projects and curricula according to decolonial principles became the catalyst for designing the new site’s structure and initial content – foregrounding sub-themes focused on: Activism; Research Ethics and Methods; Teaching and Learning; Creativity and Aesthetic Interventions. The site will be launched via WordPress during w/c 6th April 2020, via the following link: https://decolonialdialogue.wordpress.com/.

Our intention is for this embryonic, shared space to be continuously shaped by an ever-expanding network of new contributing authors, artists, educators, social justice campaigners and scholar-activists – each willing to exchange ideas, present research insights, promote inclusive teaching and learning pedagogies, and articulate critical perspectives on the decolonisation of knowledge in multiple contexts.

The site’s visual identity

Detail from the painting “Another Time” [“Yebubuyi!”] (2011) by Ghanaian artist Atta Kwami (b. 1956), displayed at Brooklyn Museum, New York. Photo: Carol Ann Dixon.

This schematic painting (acrylic on linen) by Atta Kwami (b. 1956, Kumasi, Ghana) – titled, “Another Time” [Yebubuyi!”] – is illustrative of the the artist’s signature “Kumasi Realism” style. The colourful composition reflects the dynamics and complexities of Ghanaian textiles, as well as the vibrant hybridity of the nation’s jazz music heritage. For these reasons, this digital image of the original artwork, taken at the Brooklyn Museum in New York, features as the logo and visual identity for Decolonial Dialogues.

Summary of the trans-cultural approach to curating the exhibition ‘African Arts – Global Conversations’ at Brooklyn Museum, February 2020. Photo: Carol Ann Dixon.

Reflecting on his own artwork, Atta Kwami stated:

“[T]he internal dynamics of the picture convey the complexity of rhythm in African music, jazz improvisation, and textiles, which were a major part of my formation as an artist.”

Quotation from Ghanaian modernist Atta Kwami, displayed at Brooklyn Museum.

For further information about Decolonial Dialogues, please contact Riadh Ghemmour or me (Carol Ann Dixon) using the online feedback form on this site . Alternatively, if you are reading this blog post after the 6th April 2020 you’ll be able to write to us directly via the “Your Voice” section of the Decolonial Dialogues site. Both online forms can also be used to submit ideas and proposals about future uploads – including links to relevant artworks, online/virtual exhibitions, curated assemblages of audio-visual content, awareness-raising campaign literature about decolonial activism, reflective vlogs, blog posts and other outputs.

Detail of a shelf of books within the installation “The American Library” by British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare CBE, RA. displayed at the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London (October 2019). Photo: Carol Ann Dixon.

The new web-link for the Decolonial Dialogues site is https://decolonialdialogue.wordpress.com/ (NB: This URL will become active via the WordPress platform from w/c 6th April 2020, onwards).

References and WEB links

Atta Kwami’s artwork “Another Time” was photographed during my visit to Brooklyn Museum, New York, to view the exhibition “African Arts – Global Conversations” during mid-February 2020. Summary details about this exhibition, and a selection of images, are available online at www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/african_arts_global_conversations

Dixon, Carol Ann (2019) Decolonizing Methodologies: Some Socio-Political and Poetic Reflections. Museum Geographies blog post, November 11, 2019.

Smith, Linda Tuhiwai (2012) Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. 2nd Edition. London: Zed Books. https://www.zedbooks.net/shop/book/decolonizing-methodologies/

Dr Carol Ann Dixon at Brooklyn Museum, New York, February 2020.

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