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Letter to the University from Professor Nemata Blyden, MRes external examiner

Updated: Aug 6, 2023

Dear Professor Longmore

I have served in the role of External Examiner for the MRes program in History of Africa and the African Diaspora since September of 2022. In that time, I have had the pleasure of serving on Vivas for several outstanding students. I was therefore quite shocked to hear that you have plans to shut down the program without any discussion. Though a relative newcomer I have been extremely impressed with the module run by Professor Hakim Adi, and look forward to continuing my association with the program. This is a very important and innovative program of study that has given space to dedicated, driven, and highly motivated students. In my many years of teaching it has been rare to find the kind of student that the MRes attracts. I have been highly impressed by the quality of student work produced in these modules. The work put in by Dr. Adi is evident in the work students produce. I am saddened by the idea that the program might be cut. How disappointing.

I hope that this is in fact a misunderstanding of a kind that is easily rectified. This is important work that is extremely relevant to the world we live in today. Cutting this program would make me wonder what vision Chichester has of, and for itself. I am disappointed to know that it would sit well with your institution to have a curriculum that does not include the subject matter covered by this program, and that the University could do without the valuable work of a highly regarded scholar of African diaspora studies. I think you know how well regarded Dr. Adi is in the field of African Diaspora Studies. It goes without saying that those of us who know his scholarship are disturbed by the idea he could be made redundant.

I would also add that I was disappointed that I was not made aware of a possible decision relevant to my work as an external examiner. More importantly, the fact that students seeking to enter the program might find it no longer available is of great sadness. I would hope that Chichester rethinks this decision.


Nemata Blyden

Armstead Robinson Professor of 19th Century African American History, Carter G. Woodson Institute, University of Virginia

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