Branksome researcher publishes exploration of the ‘anti-colonial’
Certain academic terms such as ‘post-colonial’ have entered the mainstream, but what do they really mean and how can people work together towards a ‘decolonial’ end where systems of oppression are effectively challenged and collapsed?
That’s the terrain in which Branksome Hall’s Chandaria Research Centre (CRC) researcher Izza Tahir works, specifically in a chapter she has contributed to a new book, Theorizing the ‘Anti-Colonial'. The volume is edited by George Dei, professor of Social Justice Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, where Tahir is working towards her PhD in educational leadership and policy.
Though Dei, who is from Ghana, is renowned for his research on anti-Black racism, particularly on anti-racist approaches to education, Tahir takes a broader view of colonization in her contribution.
“My chapter references colonization more broadly,” says Tahir, “and refers to my own background, coming from Pakistan. It’s a summary of my personal travelogue, moving from the post-colonial to an anti-colonial [stance], which is more activist- and theory-based in fighting oppression. Most people think ‘post-colonial’ means colonization has come to an end. But really, we’re always being recolonized—by capitalism and by micro-aggressions that are part of the BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, People of Colour] experience.”
Tahir says the work Branksome Hall has done since last September, with its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Book Club for employees, focussing on texts by Black writers, is a great example of activist-based work, though perhaps not in a more traditional conception of the term. In her role, Tahir also supports the work of Dr. Mira Gambhir, who oversees Research & Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the school.
“Branksome Hall has been on a journey this past year,” says Tahir. “Thinking about, discussing and questioning our personal stances on these issues is itself a form of talking, writing and fighting back, as an institution. It’s not literally ‘fighting back,’ it’s a more intellectual pursuit and it’s different for each person.”