There is a crisis in British higher education, in terms of the lack of representation of Black (African and African Caribbean) scholars and knowledge.
Only 1.1% of British born academics are Black and the academy has largely marginalised the experiences and contributions of Black communities.
This gap in academic knowledge is important because it means that society has not fully accounted for the impacts of its diversity. The marginalisation of Black experiences has consequences not just for the equality agenda but, more importantly, for knowledge production.
If a significant section on the population is locked out of academia then the knowledge produced is itself exclusionary. It is no surprise, then, that the policy agenda and discourse is so discriminatory when the knowledge upon which it is based is so exclusionary.
The Blackness in Britain: Beyond the Black Atlantic research network funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council sought to redress this marginalisation by bringing together an interdisciplinary range of academics, activists and artists who will engage in conferences, workshops and symposiums exploring Black life in Britain, and making links across the African Diaspora.
A specific aim of the network was to to explore aspects of the history of Black populations in the UK and also the contribution of the Black Arts movement to both activism and knowledge. We also intend to explore beyond the concept of the Black Atlantic, which has focused discussion on English speaking African Diasporas.
The aim of the network is to produce fully establish a Black Studies professional association and peer-reviewed journal, which can continue to develop work in the area of Black Studies after the completion of the project.
The research network is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council under the highlight notice for the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent.
A number of events took place in 2017 and 2018 to build the global network. For more information visit https://www.blackstudies.org.uk/research-network/
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