Colonialism, Education, & Sexualities Panel Discussion

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11:00 am to 1:00 pm
Virtual Event

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What does it mean to be colonised? Why is my curriculum white? How do I research sexualities? What books are available to me? These questions are simple yet they carry the weight of colonialism, education and sexualities. In this panel, our group of experts discuss how a postcolonial and decolonising lens has reconfigured their relationships to these themes in disciplinary teaching, research and publishing practice.


  • Manjeet Ramgotra, SOAS University of London, Moderator
  • Eleanor Newbigin, SOAS University of London
  • Samia Khatun, SOAS University of London
  • Fawzia Afzal-Khan, Montclair State University
  • Mjiba Frehiwot, University of Ghana

Mjiba Frehiwot is a Research Fellow in the History and Politics section at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, Legon. Her research focuses on Pan-Africanism, African political thought, and social movements in Global Africa. She is working on two projects funded by the Andrew Mellon Foundation. The first is under the University of Ghana Project, Re-invigorating Humanities Research titled, “Outside or Inside: The Contributions of the African Diaspora to Ghanaian Cultural Life” where she focuses on the exchange of cultural features based on the foundation of African identity. Dr. Frehiwot is currently producing a documentary based on the findings of the project that will interrogate the Black Lives Matter Movement, Pan-Africanism, and the African Diaspora in Ghana. The second project is in partnership with the American University of Beirut titled, “Afro-Asian Futures Past” where she is a co-principal investigator. The third stream of the project in which she is the PI is titled, “Gender and Decoloniality in Modern African Political Thought and Societies. She co-hosted, coordinated and executed a Pan-African workshop for academics, activists and community titled, “Theorizing African Political and Social Thought for Knowledge Production”. She is a founding member of Blacklash: The Africana Collective (BTAC).

Dr Samia Khatun became a feminist historian because she once lost her way to a mathematics lecture at the University of Sydney. Since then, Samia has chased truths about the past in Sydney, Antigua, Kolkata, Istanbul, Berlin, New York, Dunedin, Melbourne, London and Dhaka. She researches the life-worlds of people colonised by the British Empire and her documentaries have screened on ABC and SBS-TV in Australia. Samia is the new Chair for the Centre for Gender Studies at SOAS, London.

Fawzia Afzal-Khan is Professor of English at Montclair State University, and a University Distinguished Scholar, who served as Director of the Gender, Sexuality and Women’s rom 2009-2015. She has also taught as Visiting Professor at NYU Abu Dhabi, Harvard University, and several universities in her native Pakistan. She has published several books of scholarly criticism, including the single-authored monographs Cultural Imperialism: Genre and Ideology in the Indo-English Novel (Penn State Press 1993), and A Critical Stage: The Role of Secular Alternative Theatre in Pakistan (Seagull Press, 2005). She is co-editor of The PreOccupation of Postcolonial Studies (Duke University Press, 2000), and Editor of the best-selling anthology, Shattering the Stereotypes: Muslim Women Speak Out (Interlink Books 2005). Her memoir: Lahore with Love: Growing Up With Girlfriends Pakistani Style was published by Syracuse University Press in 2010.

Afzal-Khan is a trained vocalist in North Indian Classical music, a published playwright and poet (her poem, “Lai Li La Ah” recently won honorable mention in the 2017 Crosswinds Poetry Contest), and she has worked as an actor and performer for Ajoka Theatre Troupe of Pakistan, as well as for the experimental theatre collective Compagnie Faim de Siecle of which she was one of the founding members.

She is Creative Director and Producer on a documentary film about Pakistani Women Singers, entitled Siren Song, for which she won a development grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities in 2011, and has a book on the same subject to be published by Oxford University Press, a chapter of which was first published in the journal Performing Islam.

She is a recent Fulbright-Hays Fellowship awardee, and was in Lahore, Pakistan, as a Visiting Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence at the Kinnaird College for Women in Spring 2016.

Eleanor Newbigin is a senior lecturer in the history of modern South Asia at SOAS, University of London. She has written and researched on the relationship between family law, political representation and citizenship in India, especially during the subcontinent’s independence and on late imperial debates about economic inequality and welfare. More recently she has been working on the historical relationship between Empire and university education in Britain and India, exploring the imperial histories of the University of London and SOAS in particular. For the last year she has taught a course focused on the SOAS's imperial past and its legacy for debates and practices at the School today

Manjeet Ramgotra is a lecturer in Political Theory in the Department of Politics and International Studies at SOAS University of London and is an ISRF Independent Scholar Fellow affiliated with QMUL. Her research focuses on republicanism in the history of ideas extending from classical European to twentieth-century anti-colonial political thought. Her current research is focused on post-colonial republicanism in India. Manjeet is a strong advocate of decolonising the curriculum and has reconceptualized her teaching to include more women and people of colour. Currently, she is co-editing a new decolonised textbook in political theory called Reconsidering Political Thinkers and just published a special journal issue on Decolonising the Curriculum and Pedagogy.


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This event is part of the Virtual SOAS Festival of Ideas which will kick off a week-long series of virtual events. The festival includes: panel discussions, student led installations, masterclasses, keynote lectures, a public debate for/against on Decolonising Knowledge and a Verbatim performance by Bhuchar Boulevard on ‘Decolonising Not Just a Buzzword’ capturing SOAS conversations about the need to decolonise its imperial mission.

Keep updated on the upcoming Virtual Festival of Ideas events and watch recordings of previous events on the SOAS website. Please contact with any questions regarding this event and/or the Virtual SOAS Festival of Ideas.

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