SOAS University of London

Dr Awino Okech awarded £600,000 grant to establish Feminist Centre for the Study of Racial Justice and research network

2 September 2022

Dr Awino Okech, Reader in Political Sociology and Associate Director Equity and Accountability, has been awarded a cumulative grant of £600,000 by the Ford Foundation to lead the establishment of a Feminist Centre for the Study of Racial Justice and a transnational research network to challenge global anti-Blackness. 

The Feminist Centre for the Study of Racial Justice supports the SOAS strategic plan which emphasises centring the majority world as sites from which to understand and respond to global challenges.

The centre will build a transnational network of gender and feminist studies centres and non-academic partners in Africa, Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean to co-create action research guided by four interlocking objectives: mapping spaces of protest and solidarity; understanding practices of surveillance, containment, co-creating imaginaries of gender and racial justice and building multi-disciplinary sites to convene ideas, people, and solidarity.

The research network is an initiative of the Ford Foundation President, Darren Walker emerging from a 2021 discovery project co-led by Dr Awino Okech and Dr Aurora Vergara Figueroa. The research network will foster a collaborative community that engages in multi-disciplinary action research and policy engagement on anti-Blackness and racial justice for Black communities. It is anticipated that after the inception phase, the network will be stewarded from the majority world with an initial focus on Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

In reaction to the awarded grants, Dr Okech said: 

“I am excited by the possibilities and cognisant of the responsibility that these two initiatives hold. Personally, it is an opportunity to return to social justice work that has always been central to my life. Politically, it is a gift to co-create generative and expansive partnerships that take seriously the mutually beneficial relationship between research and societal impact. I intend to involve SOAS colleagues, especially early career academics from the regions in focus.”

SOAS Director, Professor Adam Habib said:

"This combination of academic entrepreneurialism, social justice and transnational networking is not only central to the SOAS strategic agenda but is also necessary for the transformation of the global higher education system into an equitable one".