Decolonising the curriculum: Starting with the New Postcolonial African Literature Display at the Kedleston Road Library
It is now October, which means that everything will begin to darken with nights being prolonged as the clocks go back on Sunday 28th October to the emergence of the grotesque and macabre as Halloween awaits us in the distance. However, October is also Black History Month in the UK, which aims to celebrate the cultural history and achievements of people from both the African and Caribbean diaspora, who have made an impact in our world.
The University of Derby has taken considerable lengths to advance equal opportunities for all by creating an open and diverse community of students and yet it does not stop there. The University has also empowered students to undertake their own research endeavours in furthering our understanding of cultural heritage and this can be seen in the new display on Post-colonial African literature commissioned by the Decolonisation and Literature Network that can be found in the Kedleston Library.
The new display was championed by Kiran Singh, the Network’s organiser, a leading postgraduate and aficionado of post-colonialism in literature, who is currently researching the topic at the University of Derby. Singh, was also supported by both undergraduate and fellow postgraduate students at the university, who are affiliated with the Decolonisation and Literature Network and contributed to the creation and arrangement of the display.
The display itself is comprised of African totems, art work and literature curated by the students associated with the network. The display also features books from award-winning authors such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Chinua Achebe.
The literary works exhibited in the display contains a framework of both fictional and non-fictional literature that provides an interdisciplinary study on the African experience and diaspora, ranging from the geographical, social and cultural histories of pre-colonial Africa to colonisation under European imperialism and post-colonial African society and politics.
The Decolonisation and Literature Network launched on the 4th June 2018 at the University of Derby, and was well received with both the Vice Chancellor, Kathryn Mitchell and Jo Bishton, Head of Diversity, Equality & Inclusion at the University of Derby, in attendance. Since its inauguration, the Network has been a tour de force and has shaken up the university’s literary scene by re-racialising the curriculum, specifically, the English syllabus, in a positive way to allow students to familiarise themselves to world literature by interacting with texts and philosophies from the perspectives of the colonised as opposed to the coloniser.
The network strives to encourage students to engage with literature as a decolonised tool to empower voices that are often marginalised if not excluded from public knowledge systems. It is also a celebration of the diverse racial, ethnic, and social backgrounds that make up both the city of Derby and the University of Derby alike, which can be seen in their diverse group of members made up of people from different ages, years of study, and cultures.