‘Throwing our bodies against a white background’: Article published

I am excited to announce that my latest article “Throwing our bodies against the white background of academia” has been published by Area as part of their Ethics feature. This paper addresses the difficulty of conducting research about non‐white racialised persons while working within predominantly white academic institutions.

The thinking behind this paper can be traced back to a conversation I had with Pat Noxolo and Parvati Raghuram at my first ever academic conference: as I was wrestling with my anxiety about entering academia and seeing so few People of Colour (and even fewer Black people), both of them provided me with the support I needed to realise that this was a systemic problem that so many anti-racist academics have been working against. Even as (for them) this must have just been one of the many off-hand conversations had during a conference break, their naming of the racist structures that persist in academia helped me to find a space where I could add my own intervention: I am forever grateful for their words and work.

I also need to say a massive thank you to the reviewers for this article and the Area journal. Their feedback was always incredibly generous and thoughtful, and it taught me so much about the type of reviewer that I hope to be.

Thank you to all of the people who commented on drafts of this paper, and helped to clarify my argument: Alison Blunt, Richard Phillips, Eric Olund, Maryam Jameela, Shereen Fernandez, Shabna Begum, Imran Jamal and Musab Younis.

Finally, thank you to the Black Muslim women who developed this research with me. As I have often said, I hope first and foremost that my work can be seen as a labour of love and recognition for all of us.

You can access the article here.

Abstract

This paper addresses the difficulty of conducting research about non‐white racialised persons while working within predominantly white academic institutions. Specifically, I examine how to conduct research without representing Black bodies as a fixed, exoticised Other that is oppositional to a disembodied white Self. To do so, I use double consciousness alongside Black feminist work on dialogues as a methodological framework to centre Black Muslim women as knowledge producers. This novel approach moves away from simply describing (and fixing) racialised bodies to a particular performance/experience, and instead explores how performances shift as we negotiate different bodies, objects, and spaces. The paper advances discussions in critical race studies and the ethics of geographical research by illustrating how the situated experiences of the researcher and the participant are embedded in processes of knowledge production: I look to subvert the fixing of racialised bodies as deviations from the normative white background of academia.

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