Education and Race in Black and Asian Communities in Britain: An Archival Study

Key information

3:15 PM to 5:00 PM
Paul Webley Wing (Senate House)
SOAS Paul Webley Wing (Senate House), Room S113

About this event



Emma Abotsi, British Sociological Association Fellow at the British Library

This paper explores the experience of racism and the formation of ‘Black’ and ‘Asian’ identities in the educational projects of African, Caribbean and Asian youths in the UK. It is part of the British Sociological Association’s (BSA) initiative to highlight the benefits of archival research in sociology. As a result, the BSA has partnered with the British Library (BL) to establish the ‘Sociology in the archives’ project. The project is informed by the ‘archival turn’ (Moore et al. 2016) in sociology which has seen increasing numbers of sociologists employing archival research methods to examine contemporary concerns. Accordingly, the project employs the BL’s collections, including literary accounts, personal testimonies from oral histories, theatre and zines (independent, self-published materials) from the UK’s African, Caribbean and Asian communities to examine race and education from the 1960s to present day.

The paper will discuss key themes emerging from the archival materials such as how particular racist imaginaries and structural inequalities shaped young people’s negative experiences of schooling, the importance of alternative knowledge, skills and histories as part of people’s educational projects and Community-led campaigns, and programmes to address what people felt was missing from mainstream schooling. By thinking through these themes, the paper asks how ‘African’ and ‘Asian’ histories and culture are employed by ‘Black’ (African and Caribbean), and Asian youth in their pursuit of educational projects that spoke to their lived experiences as racialised minorities.

Dr Emma Abotsi is the British Sociological Association Postdoctoral Fellow at the British Library. I completed my PhD at the Department of Education, University of Oxford. I have also worked as a research consultant in the field of international development. Prior to my PhD, I was an Assistant Archivist at the Black Cultural Archives. I have an MSc in Education from the University of Oxford, an MPhil in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge and a BA (Hons) in Photography from Camberwell College of Arts.