In the US, the teaching of topics related to marginalised groups, such as African American history and queer studies is being put at risk by right wing politics intervening in the making and teaching of curricula. Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, legal scholar, human rights advocate, and a pioneering Black feminist thinker, is one of the most prominent voices opposing these ongoing attacks on critical race theory and on conservative reforms within US public education.
Although the current battle over critical race theory in the US could perhaps have been anticipated given the US' political environment, the questions raised by Professor Crenshaw resonate in the European context(s) too. Soon after Central European University was pushed out of the country by the Hungarian right-wing government's offensive attack against gender studies, higher education institutions in several European countries found themselves at the receiving end of similar attacks by conservative governments. In France, Minister of Education Michel Blanquer keeps decrying the so-called ideology of 'wokism' in academia as a threat to the Republican and democratic values. In the UK, first Minister Rishi Sunak recently initiated an 'anti-woke campaign' which plans to launch an investigation of universities and student unions suspected of free speech breaches.
National political contexts vary but the focus of the attacks is quite similar: antiracist, decolonial, feminist, queer, intersectional topics are not only discredited but also identified as potentially harmful for the country. What is more, scholars from marginalised groups involved in these fields find themselves in a particular position of vulnerability, sometimes at risk of being targeted for their own individuality.
In this workshop, Professor Crenshaw will address the current so-called 'culture war' and the challenges of teaching critical race theory and intersectional feminism without succumbing to political pressures. This workshop hopes to offer a platform to discuss the anxieties of academics of colour who shoulder the emotional and physical labour of decolonising in White institutions, both in their teaching and in their personal politics.