Professor Hakim Adi Campaign: Report
For: w/c Monday, July 31st (on the campaign so far)
The campaign has gained traction so far, with almost 8,700 signatures to date on our petition and gaining 351 supporters on Sunday, July 30th alone.
The University of Chichester has kept quiet around the proposed axing of the MRes and Professor Adi's position, with 17 further redundancies being made. In the university's Humanities Department, a colleague of Professor Adi's, Dr Dion Georgiou, and the BA Modern History is also being threatened. A petition to support Dr Georgiou has begun by Modern History graduate Ray, who praised both the MRes and BA courses as integral to widening our scope and looking beyond White European history within and outside the academy.
UCU Chichester has finally begun to firmly back Professor Adi and the further members of staff that are threatened with redundancy and course dissolution. The union posted their statement on July 25th, with UCU general secretary Jo Grady stating the university's decision to axe the course and the first Black British professor of the History of Africa and the African diaspora as an 'attack on Black academia.' She went on to say:
"It is no surprise that only 1% of UK professors are Black when a university like Chichester is willing to sack the UK's first African-British professor of History and shut down a course created to train Black academics. Chichester's management urgently needs to show it is committed to widening access into higher education and reverse this awful decision."
On July 26th, many more supporters came together across all platforms, including Professor Adi's interview with Newzroom Africa presenter Dudizile Ramela. Professor Adi notes that the only other member of the history department at the university threatened with redundancy is "of Commonwealth heritage." Regarding Dr Georgiou's Cypriot and Guyanese heritage, and his teaching of history using a global, interdisciplinary framework. The university's decision to axe the only two academics centring these transnational and diasporic histories is reflective of the failure of higher education institutions and our current Government's lack of support for the employment and retention of Black, Asian and other academics from minoritised ethnic backgrounds and lack of willingness to include these histories in our collective memory of modern Britain and lack of marketise these courses.
Currently, just 11% of professors in Higher Education are of Black, Asian or other ethnic backgrounds, with just 1% of those identifying as Black. Further, Higher Education and our current Government have a track record of threatening and targeting courses that teach diverse histories, mainly to Britain and its empire from the late 16th century to the present day, such as the axing of the UK's only MA in Black British History at Goldsmiths, University of London (2021) and threats to cut courses such as the master's degrees in queer History and black British literature (2022) at the university. In addition, the publication of the Conservative Party's Inclusive Britain strategy, following the controversial publication of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report, further concretised the party's commitment to limit our histories being taught in schools too. Despite claiming to want to develop a more inclusive curriculum, the party is committed to pressuring teaching staff to adhere to its published impartiality guidance, limiting the opportunity to facilitate discussions around topics such as 'Critical Race theory' without penalisation. This hostility exists at the university level and permeates the entire education system. We must continue challenging this; supporting this campaign is just one way.
Further supporters this following week included the following:
The BNN reported on July 24th that Bell Ribeiro Adyy, Labour MP for Streatham, has tabled an Early Day Motion in parliament expressing disappointment at the proposed redundancy.
A feature on Talk TV with Professor Adi in conversation with Tricia Goddard. You can find the discussion here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cV5jL_PtaHU&t=9s
An open letter from the Black Cultural Archives, published July 25th, can be found here.
Feature on Hidden Truths at https://www.theinvestigator.org.uk/events
Active support from the student unions at the University of Nottingham, Bristol, Portsmouth, Warwick, Nottingham Trent, and more.
An article in the Voice featuring the testimony of History and current PhD student of Professor Adi states:
"I chose to study History at Chichester specifically because I had never had the opportunity to study African History at school, and the modules on offer dealt with this underrepresented History…. I was encouraged by Professor Adi to continue my research on Black women activists in 20th century Britain to PhD level, and it's hard to see how, without his encouragement, I would be conducting my PhD and nearing completion… It's worth mentioning that if Chichester moves forward with plans to axe Professor Adi's post, myself and 11 other PhD students will be left without a qualified supervisor."
Francis added: "Over the last eight years, I've witnessed and participated in many important projects that Professor Adi has co-founded and nurtured, both within academia and at community level… These initiatives have all encouraged more people of African and Caribbean heritage to train as Historians and promoted wider teaching of this area of History."
The UK's first Race Correspondent, Nadine White, writes on the backlash the University of Chichester has faced in moves to axe the flagship African studies course in the Independent on Wednesday, July 26th.
Joe Stack at the Sussex Express wrote a local feature on the axing of the course on Thursday, July 27th.
There was also a statement from Kehinde Andrews, Professor of Black Studies at Birmingham City University, published by https://make-it-plain.org/ on Friday, 28th July. Andrews identifies a pivotal moment in Professor Adi's interview on Newzroom Africa in which he states that the University of Chichester say that "the course didn't recruit sufficient numbers of students" despite a target never being set for the course, with a similar number of students on the programme as other masters courses at the West Sussex institution.
We hope to see the University of Chichester reverse its decision soon in the wake of the significant traction the campaign has gained. We must continue to fight.