Somak Biswas – History Department (University of Warwick)
Lola Olufemi, ‘Uses of the Feminist Imagination’
Tuesday 18th February, 17.00-19.00, OC1.04
Talk, workshop, Q&A, and light refreshments
Our forthcoming speaker at Warwick next week is none other than the powerful Lola Olufemi! Those who follow radical student politics in the UK needs little introduction as to Lola; for those who don’t, let me cite her short but apt go-to bio from Pluto Press: ‘black feminist writer and organiser from London. She facilitates workshops on feminism and histories of political organising in schools, universities and local communities. She is the co-author of A FLY Girl’s Guide to University: Being a Woman of Colour at Cambridge and Other Institutions of Power and Elitism (Verve Poetry Press, 2019)’.
Lola has been at the forefront of decolonising the curriculum movement at Cambridge as a student, an effort that has been an example to many of us involved in similar efforts elsewhere. Her recent book Feminist, Interrupted (Pluto: 2020) showcases her deep commitment and understanding of issues around race, gender and sexual rights and their many intersections.
Co-hosted by the History Department and Queer History at Warwick, she will be speaking at the History Department Research Seminar series. The series was instituted as an outreach and self-reflective engagement with students in the widest possible terms in the aftermath of the rape chat scandal at Warwick in 2018. The series, inviting speakers with an academic background but more public-facing engagements, is an attempt to critically interrogate and go beyond the politics of diversity; to diversify is not decolonising, as many have pointed out. How can our teaching and learning practices be made more inclusive? How do we foster difficult conversations on race, gender or forms of marginalisation experienced within and outside the classroom?
Lola will intervene in this conversation by engaging with the radical potential of the feminist imagination and its uses, how it presents itself, and what it looks like in the bounds of an institution. In this talk (30mins) and interactive workshop (15-20mins), she will ask: who does imagining matter for? She will focus specifically on experiences of (queer) students of colour and their disappointments regarding knowledge production and reproduction of powers in institutional spaces. How does the imagination manifest? What does it engender? Drawing on her own experience of decolonial efforts, student organising and political education, she will discuss how such imagining is received, as well as the institutional backlash, oversimplification and misreadings it is surrounded by.
We look forward to an evening of sparkling insight and imagination to which you are most welcome.