In this Keynote Presentation at The European Conference on Education 2014 (ECE2014), Professor Heidi Safia Mirza draws on black and postcolonial feminist perspectives to explore ways in which professional black and female academics engage in ‘embodied’ work towards decolonising dominant regimes of ‘diversity’ in higher education. In the context of the significant numbers of Muslim, Black and Asian students who are now entering British higher education Prof. Mirza unpacks the ways in which ‘just being there’ creates unsettling spaces of contestation in our still overwhelmingly white and male universities. Drawing on her research on the pedagogic practices of teacher educators and their dilemmas of teaching race, faith and culture, she explores the challenging and difficult concepts of ‘white hurt’ and ‘spaces of safety’ which offers us the radical possibility of transcending the ‘stuck’ institutional discourses of ‘race equality’ and ‘social inclusion’ that dominate higher education.
Professor Heidi Safia Mirza
Heidi Safia Mirza is Professor of Race, Faith and Culture at Goldsmith’s College, University of London. She is known for her pioneering research on race, gender and identity among black and Muslim young women in school and processes of racialisation in higher education. Her recent work explores current debates on multiculturalism and diversity in education, as well as cultural and religious difference, Islamophobia and gendered violence. Professor Mirza’s research includes the European Union (EU) project ‘Young Migrant Women in Secondary Education, and the Ethnicity Strand of ‘Understanding Society’, the ESRC’s UK Household Longitudinal Study. She directed the Rayne Foundation study ‘Unlocking the potential of refugee teachers’ and ‘Respecting Difference’ a TDA project on race, faith and culture for teacher educators. Professor Mirza established the Runnymede Collection at the BCA (Black Cultural Archives) which documents the 20th Century civil rights struggle for Multicultural Britain and is also an expert consultant to English Heritage on bringing in under-represented groups to the English national story. Professor Mirza is author of several best-selling books including Young Female and Black (Routledge); Black British Feminism (Routledge); Race Gender and Educational Desire: why black women succeed and fail (Routledge 2009); Black and Postcolonial Feminisms in New Times: Researching Educational Inequalities (Routledge 2010), and most recently, Respecting Difference: Race, Faith, and Culture for Teacher Educators (IOE press 2012).