Finding solidarity and forming new
narratives by the Centre for Equity
and Inclusion Sheffield.
The Centre for Equity & Inclusion was established to enhance the university experience for postgraduate researchers and local partners historically harmed and marginalised by higher education institutions. Providing a platform for such groups to creatively document and share their experiences is an important part of this work. The perspectives of racially marginalised people are so often ignored and discounted. The consequence being that mainstream narratives provide reductive, fragmented, and distorted accounts of our lives. These can leave us feeling that our experiences are not shared by others and create a profound sense of alienation. We therefore want to cultivate a space where people of colour can reflect on, discuss and share their experience in a collective space. This space is intended to be open, flexible and experimental. But it is also here to capture a moment in time, and build a legacy.
The archive is a means to say: We Were Here.
During our initial workshops with PGRs and partners, it soon became clear that participants wanted to make this archive an explicitly political space. Time was dedicated to discussing the core principles of the Archive and the impact it should have on the university and local community. More emphasis was placed on using the archive to draw attention to social justice issues, not only to capture individual experiences. It was then that it became the Anti-Racist Archive.
After the direction of the archive had been established, participants explored creative ways to touch on themes that were important to them. Group conversations took place in monthly workshops to enable ideas to emerge and sharpen. Over time, issues relating to identity, culture, higher education and activism were explored through photography, dance, music, writing and video.
The final creative outputs were showcased at a public event for Migration Matters Festival and are currently displayed at Western Bank Library, in the University of Sheffield.
With the first chapter of the archive now complete, there is an opportunity for a new group to build on this work and take it in a new direction. As Stuart Hall reminds us in ‘Constituting an Archive’, the archive is a living space that shapes and is shaped by all those that encounter it. We invite you to join us on this archival journey and trace the transformations taking place within it.