Image: Dr Margaret Byron speaking at the National Theatre’s “Culture After Windrush” debate

Creating real opportunities for Black futures in Geography

Part of the RGS Annual Conference, this is the RACE working group pre-conference, focusing on early-career black and brown geographers. The event will be on Tuesday 31st August 10.30-3.00.

The morning session (10.30-12.30) will focus on early career researchers (ECRs) and pre-career researchers (PCRs – undergraduates and PGTs). It will be led by Professor Parvati Raghuram (Open University), and is an informal problem-discussion session for black and brown UG/PG/ECRs. If you have questions that you would like to raise/be discussed, please contact

The afternoon session (1-3pm) is called ‘Creating real opportunities for Black futures in Geography’. This will be more formal, with a couple of short talks, followed by discussion and action planning.

You can register for this free event here.

Towards guidelines for good practice in supervising Black Geography PhD students

Date and time: Wednesday, 30th June 2021, 11-12am UK time
Venue: Online – for a FREE link to enter, please register:

About this event
This roundtable event will discuss good practice in the supervision of Black Geography PhD students in the UK

Chair: Dr Pat Noxolo (University of Birmingham)
Roundtable Participants: Victoria Okoye (University of Sheffield, author of a new report on the supervision of black PhD students in Geography); Dr James Esson (Loughborough University); Dr Margaret Byron (Leicester University) and Dr Angela Last (Leicester University).

Funded by the Royal Geographical Society’s Ray Y Gildea Award, and based on interviews with Black PhD students, a postdoctoral fellow and supervisors, this roundtable event will discuss good practice in the supervision of Black Geography PhD students. Despite its crucial role in reproducing academic research, PhD supervision is one of the least-discussed areas of higher education teaching. Yet the low recruitment, low funding and high withdrawal rates of black PhD students, across all disciplines, is well publicised (Williams et al, 2019). In Geography, there is a well-documented need to recruit and retain more black PhD students (Desai, 2017), especially as the discipline’s push towards diversity, including the development of the field of Black British Geographies (Noxolo 2020), becomes more urgent. This roundtable will center the lived experiences and reflections shared by these students, postdoc, and supervisors, along with their recommendations on good practice to support Black students in Geography.

Please join us for a lively discussion about how black PhD students can be better supervised, and ultimately how we can produce a more diverse discipline. If you have any queries about this event, please contact Dr Pat Noxolo (

RACE group pre-conference : Resources for black-focussed research in the UK

This pre-conference event, which takes place at the most high-profile black-focused archives in the UK, features the launch of the RACE group’s report on resources for black-focused research in the UK, presented by Natalie Hyacinth. Professor Rashad Shabazz will also talk about his research and Black Cultural Archives’ Hannah Ishmael will also talk about the importance of the archives for researchers. There will also be discussion about black-focused research in the UK and the resources that we need to support it.

RGS-IBG Annual Conference 2019

The Race, Culture and Equality (RACE) Working Group is sponsoring five sessions at the RGS-IBG annual conference 2019.

1) Resistance in the Master’s House: Researching race in troubling times
2) Doing anti-racist and decolonial geographies in praxis
3) Heteroactivism, Homonationalism and National Projects
4) Author meets readers of David Simon (2019) Holocaust Escapees and Global Development: Hidden Histories
5) England as a diaspora space

Here are the abstracts:

Resistance in the Master’s House: Researching race in troubling times
Session Convenors: Shereen Fernandez (QMUL) & Azeezat Johnson (QMUL)

The proposed session works from Audre Lorde’s (1984) warning against using the Master’s tools to dismantle the Master’s house (i.e. the evolving implicit and explicit logics of white supremacy). This is an opportunity for us to confront our role as academics in the reproduction of white supremacy: how does anti-racist scholarship and activism occur alongside and/or in spite of the white supremacist logics that sustains the Master’s house? This is particularly important to address at the RGS-IBG conference given the expense of participating in these spaces of knowledge dissemination, thus controlling who can (literally) afford to participate in the development of academic scholarship. We explore these questions in light of our neo- and re-colonising contexts (Esson et al. 2017), as well as the intertwined histories of coloniality, white supremacy and the discipline of Geography (McKittrick 2006; Noxolo, Raghuram, and Madge 2008; Yusoff 2018). This interrogation of our role in academia is used to re-imagine racial justice in these troubling and uncertain times.

Please send abstracts (max. 300 words) to Shereen Fernandez ( and Azeezat Johnson ( by Monday 4th February.

We invite abstracts that relate (but are not limited to) the following questions:

How do we move beyond self-flagellating statements about reflexivity and positionality, and towards challenging power structures and racial inequality within and beyond the academy?
How do we organise effectively as academics given the urgency of these systems of oppression? What are some practical methods of activism that we as academics can take up across different local, national and regional contexts?
How do we resist the depoliticization of tools that critique the functioning of white supremacy? What can be done to re-engage with the explicitly political rationale of decolonisation, postcolonialism and intersectionality?

Where does/can racial justice take place? How do we account for shifting constructions of race across different temporal and regional contexts?
What are the benefits and limitations of social media and ‘private’ communication for activists and scholars working on racial justice?
How do we perpetuate legislation and border controls within the academy (e.g. through the Prevent Duty or immigration checks), and how does this impact work on racial justice?

We are particularly keen to engage with scholars located outside of the “Global North” and under-represented groups within the “Global North”. We encourage scholars within and beyond Geography to apply.


Esson, James, Patricia Noxolo, Richard Baxter, Patricia Daley, and Margaret Byron. 2017. ‘The 2017 RGS-IBG chair’s theme: decolonising geographical knowledges, or reproducing coloniality?’, Area, 49: 384-88.

Lorde, Audre. 1984. Sister Outsider: essays and speeches (The Crossing Press: California).

McKittrick, Katherine. 2006. Demonic grounds: Black women and the cartographies of struggle (University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis).

Noxolo, Patricia, Parvati Raghuram, and Clare Madge. 2008. ‘‘Geography is Pregnant’ and ‘Geography’s Milk is Flowing’: Metaphors for a Postcolonial Discipline?’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 26: 146-68.

Yusoff, Kathryn. 2018. A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None (University of Minnesota Press: Minnesota).

Doing anti-racist and decolonial geographies in praxis

Session Convenors: Aya Nassar and Divya Tolia-Kelly (University of Sussex)

This session focuses on the experience of scholars who are undertaking anti-racist, decolonial and postcolonial work as well as research within geography. It aims to create a forum through which lived experiences of research, scholarship, writing, travelling, mentorship -to name only few of the everyday lived experience of academia- are discussed. It further aims to reflect on the politics of conducting postcolonial and decolonial work on the infrastructures of Higher Education. In what ways is research on places of the ‘elsewhere’ positioned within geography? How do designations of area studies, regional geographies of the Global South, the Middle East…etc, get positioned in relation to, or against ‘international’ case studies? In terms of political strategy, how do calls for ‘decoloniality’ sit within material conditions at HE that create the BAME attainment gap at universities? or institutional racism? The sessions are about sharing, creating dialogic spaces and building capacity amongst researchers across the discipline and providing a support network for researchers, staff and students. Themes for suggested papers include but are not restricted to inclusion, materiality, race, racisms, exclusion and resistance. We welcome papers that reflect on personal and/or collective experiences, hesitancies and uncertainties of navigating these terrains. We also welcome reflections on methodological, theoretical practices and imbrications within the life-worlds and infrastructure of the contemporary university.

Heteroactivism, Homonationalism and National Projects

Session Convenors: Stefanie C. Boulila (University of Göttingen), Kath Browne (Maynooth
University) and Catherine Jean Nash (Brock University)

It has long been argued that the national project is inherently
heteronormative – creating and celebrating specific family forms, as
well as reiterating nationalistic visions through gendered and
sexualised normativities (Binnie and Bell, 2000; Sharp, 1996;
Yuval-Davis 1997). More recently, investigations of homonationalism have
explored the cooption and use of (white) lesbian and gay ‘acceptances’
often in the form of civil unions to reproduce the national project,
affirm racial hierarchies and engage in postcolonial military conflict
(Puar, 2007; El-Tayeb 2011, Haritaworn 2012). At the same time there
have been new forms of resistances to sexual and gender equalities,
including anti-gender campaigns. As an analytical category,
heteroactivism opens up a space to examine these phenomena relationally
as well as in their heterogeneity (Browne and Nash, 2017).

The securitization of borders, the rise of populism and the far right in
allegedly post-racial times require sexual and gendered analyses that
engage with the multiplicities of support and oppositions to rights,
equalities and intersectional justice. This session seeks explore the
multifarious intersections of heteroactivism and nationalist projects.
Topics might include, but are not limited to:
– Race, religion and oppositions to/acceptances of sexual and gender
– Modernity, Europeaness And LGBT/Women’s rights
– University Cultural wars and governmental interventions
– Sexualities of the far right/populisms
– Gender Norms and nationalisms
– Opposing the Oppositions/acceptances Confrontation, debate and
protest, the promise of oppositional politics
– Heteroactivism and homonationalist affirmations

If you are interested in submitting a paper, please send an abstract of
no more than 250 words,,
and by 31st January 2019.

Author meets readers of David Simon (2019) Holocaust Escapees and Global Development: Hidden Histories

Session Convenors:
Miles Kenny-Lazar, Department of Geography, National University of Singapore (
Felix Mallin, Department of Geography, National University of Singapore (
James D Sidaway, Department of Geography, National University of Singapore (

This panel session will bring together readers of David Simon’s (2019) Holocaust Escapees and Global Development: Hidden Histories (University of Chicago Press and Pluto Press). The author will respond to their comments.

England as a diaspora space

Session Convenors: Amy Clarke (Queen Mary), Saskia Papadakis (Royal Holloway)

Twenty-eight years after Avtar Brah first published Cartographies of Diaspora, this session encourages Geographers to re-engage with her ideas, and those of other post- and decolonial scholars, to examine how nation is made, claimed and contested. At a time when national spaces, narratives and histories are being fought over around the world, we ask what it might mean to think of England as a diaspora space, somewhere created by movers and stayers, and intimately connected to other places, spaces and times. How might such theories trouble dominant understandings of the ways in which England is seen, experienced and reproduced? Is there a space for rethinking England and Englishness? And what potential does such a rethinking offer for creating more inclusive and hopeful futures?

In addition to papers relating to Brah’s ideas, we seek papers that engage with:
– Inclusive/exclusive national hi/stories
– Plurality, multiplicity, complexity
– Routes and roots
– Postcolonial continuities and discomfort
– Autochthone politics, whiteness, myths of origin and authenticity.

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