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Support Professor Hakim Adi & the MRes in the History of Africa and the African Diaspora!

Professor Hakim Adi Campaign Report:

For: Monday 21 August


The campaign has been gaining even more traction in the last two weeks, kicking off with a Soweto Live article by Pedro Mzileni published on Monday, 7 August identifying the axing of the MRes and the role Professor Hakim Adi as part of the global erasure of black history. The article goes on to state that "The move by the University of Chichester is, therefore, an expression of a symbiotic relationship between neoliberalism and white racism" and that the commercialisation of higher education is deemed a priority over the teaching of Black history to people of African and Caribbean descent as well as the rest of the global population about the history of Black people in Europe.


On Tuesday 8th, an open letter from academics and heritage professionals was penned and published in solidarity with Professor Adi and the ongoing campaign. Supporters included Black and Asian Studies Association member, MRes graduate and Visiting Research Assistant at the University of Hong Kong and Lead Curator at the British Library, Dr Aleema Gray, among many others. You can read the open letter here.


The level of campaign support has also grown following the launch of our campaign defence fund on Wednesday, 9 August. As our fund page asserts, we ask and urge our peers to support over half a dozen MRes and 10 PhD current students in their fight against the University of Chichester to help us retain Professor Hakim Adi's position and reinstate the MRes in the History of Africa and the African Diaspora, which was suspended arbitrarily and abruptly without consultation indicating a clear breach of the Equality Act 2010. On the same day, History Matters published the latest comments from the petition here and our campaign posters available to be shared the following day, which you can find here.


On Friday 11th, MRes graduate and first PhD graduate Dr Claudia Tomlinson spoke at the Jessica Huntley Community Garden to launch Professor Gus John's two new publications: Blazing Trails and Don't Salvage the Empire Windrush.


On Monday 14th, TRT World, a Turkish broadcaster, published Professor Adi's account of his experience. His opening statement reads:


"23 August is designated by the UN as the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. The theme of many of the events for this year's commemoration has been 'Fighting slavery's legacy of racism through transformative education.' The UN Secretary-General, speaking earlier this year, pointed out that the resurgence of white supremacist hate can be fought with the most powerful weapon in our arsenal: education.


Five years ago, at the University of Chichester, this is exactly what we did. We established a Master's Degree by Research (MRes) in the History of Africa and the African Diaspora. The aim was not just to present that important history, but also to train students as historians to carry out their own research into any aspect of this history. We were particularly intent on recruiting students of African and Caribbean heritage who are so poorly represented at all levels in universities in Britain."

He goes on to state:


"Everything changed in May 2023, however, when the university announced that it was reviewing all of its taught postgraduate degrees. It was subsequently revealed that this review had come about due to numerous financial shortcomings, a serious problem throughout the education sector in Britain caused by inadequate government funding. The University of Chichester then claimed that the MRes programme was not recruiting a sufficient number of students and suspended all recruitment until the next academic year, telling the students who had enrolled that the programme was unavailable."


On Tuesday 15th, the Oxford and Chichester UCU branches released a short statement calling upon UCU General Secretary Jo Grady to support the campaign at a national level. On the same day, History Matters published Professor Adi's radio interview featuring statements of support here.


On Wednesday 16th, Professor Hakim sat down with Peter Dwyer from the Review of African Political Economy (ROAPE). ROAPE was founded in 1974 and is a peer-reviewed academic journal covering African political economy. Professor Adi, an editorial working group member of ROAPE, has been known to the organisation for years, with critical contributions such as his interview on the anniversary of the 1917 Revolution and his article on The African Diaspora, 'Development' & Modern African Political Theory.


The interview went in-depth into the subject of universities in the UK who had claimed to have taken a stand for equality with the documentation of EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) initiatives and documents. However, when Dwyer asked Professor Adi about his experiences of communication with the University of Chichester regarding the axing of the MRes, he recalled that:


"When I went to the person responsible for [the] EDI, he said: Well, I can't say anything, and I can't do anything. So if the person, Senior Manager, and responsible for these things cannot do anything, where you have a course on the history of Africa, the African diaspora that brings black students to the university- And we have to remember that Chichester… is one of the most monocultural…if I can use that expression, universities in the country…


Now what's happened, because we've been able to establish this kind of cohort[s] of black postgraduate history students, probably the biggest concentration of British based, you know, black historians in the country, we've not managed to do that… And as I say, in the past, they have boasted about it. But now, it's as if it doesn't really matter. You know, that's the impression you get: it doesn't really matter, the students don't really matter, the Professor definitely doesn't matter. But more important[ly], even though the students and myself [are important], the history doesn't matter."


The behind-closed-doors nature of the University of Chichester's decision to axe the course indicates an apparent disregard for the well-being of its students and a dedicated member of staff, an employee of the institution since 2012.


On Thursday 17th, the Voice published a letter from current students studying Professor Adi's course at the University of Chichester. You can read testimonies from past students Tirivashe Tele, Claudius Steven, Leonard Phillips, Petra Toyin Haynes and others here.


On Saturday 19th, the Socialist Worker's Sophie Squire published a piece on Professor Adi's experiences of discrimination from the University of Chichester, reporting that when the Professor was in a meeting following the suspension of admissions to the course, management said he should think about getting funding through the Crowdfunder or Kickstarter websites. This shocking suggestion from the university indicates the broader disregard for Black history and knowledge across UK institutions. It emphasises the false promises made by institutions to reflect on their role in perpetuating racism and discrimination.


As of Sunday 20th, we have gained over 12,000 signatures, with almost 290 signers on Sunday alone. Please continue to spread the news of the latest campaign updates far and wide. Watch for Professor Adi's Dorothy Kuya Slavery Remembrance Memorial Lecture on Tuesday, 22 August, at Liverpool Town Hall ahead of Slavery Remembrance Day on Wednesday, 23 August.


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