Contribution to Decolonising Geography

This week Gavin Brown has contributed a post about the Non-Stop Picket and the forms of informal, anti-racist political education that took place on it, to the Decolonising Geography blog.

Gavin concludes his contribution by stating:

Although the Non-Stop Picket had the release of Mandela as its central demand, the group never restricted their solidarity to Mandela’s African National Congress. City Group was committed to providing ‘non-sectarian’ solidarity to all those political tendencies who opposed apartheid in South Africa. In practice, this meant that the Non-Stop Picket created space on the streets of London to amplify the voices of those South Africans from Pan-Africanist and Black Consciousness traditions who didn’t limit their demands to achieving democratic rights for all South Africans, but who wanted to undo settler colonial structures and relationships in their country and build a decolonized Azania in its place. For teachers who are committed to decolonizing Geography, the Non-Stop Picket provides a useful case study in how to build a grassroots movement in Britain that is in solidarity with decolonial movements elsewhere. An archive of City Group’s papers is now publicly available at the Bishopsgate Institute, offering a wealth of resources for thinking through these issues. Studying the decolonial analysis and praxis of the Southern African movements who opposed apartheid helps challenge Eurocentric assumptions about who produces geopolitical theory and knowledge. But I also think it is a powerful reminder (to quote Eve Tuck and Wayne Yang) that decolonization is not a metaphor.

The Decolonising Geography Educators Group is a group of geography educators who are looking at ways to decolonise the curriculum. They aim to challenge the reproduction of colonial practices of knowledge in our classrooms. The Decolonising Geography website contributes to developing curricula that challenge ‘universal truths’ and ‘objective knowledge’ in Geography by offering: pedagogical techniques to empower students to co-create knowledge and build critical geographies; a space for critical reflection on the content we teach in geography education; and practical teaching resources.

In this context, Gavin’s contribution asks what the historical experiences of the Non-Stop Picket can teach us about both picketing and geography today. His contribution was timed to coincide (and as an act of solidarity) with the latest wave of strikes by members of the University and College Union at 63 universities in the UK. This strike is motivated by a wide range of grievances, including the significant racialised pay gaps amongst staff in the British university sector.

About Gavin Brown

Professor of Political Geography and Sexualities University of Leicester
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