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Decolonising Archives 2020

Our Decolonising Archives programme is a partnership with UAL Library, Archives and Special Collections that aims to explore institutional histories, memories and what it means to decolonise the University from within.

We welcomed our first researchers in residence in January 2020 to provide critical decolonial perspectives on collections practice. Meet the 4 researchers and read their research papers:

Dr Elisa Adami

Decolonial Dovetailing: Potential Encounters and Archival Elisions in Thorold Dickinson’s Archive

Dr Elisa Adami recently completed her PhD at the Royal College of Art in London.

In this paper she adopts film director Thorold Dickinson’s rhetorical device of dovetailing – the suturing or juxtaposition of images taken from different reels – in order to apply it to the director’s own archive at the UAL’s Archives and Special Collection Centre.

In dovetailing, the paper aims to expand on what is not in the archive and to deconstruct what is there.

Elisa presents at the Decolonising Archives Symposium

Dr Khairani Barokka

Caption in Red Thread: D/deaf and Disabled Narratives in the African-Caribbean, Asian and African Art in Britain Archive

Dr Khairani Barokka (Okka) is a Minang-Javanese writer, artist and researcher from Jakarta, based in London.

Using the Indonesian term ‘benang merah’, or red thread, indicating connections between, this work of creative nonfiction serves as a caption (one of innumerable possible captions) for the African-Caribbean, Asian and African Art in Britain Archive at UAL’s Chelsea campus.

It shows anti-colonial disability justice narratives as already very much present in these archives, and all archives.

Okka presents at the Decolonising Archives Symposium

Dr Ana S González Rueda

Disorienting the Gaze: Ngozi Onwurah's Early Films

Dr Ana S González Rueda completed her PhD at the University of St Andrews in 2019.

In this paper she looks at Ngozi Onwurah’s early films The Body Beautiful (1990) and Coffee-Coloured Children (1988). She considers how they reflect on illness, sexuality and mother/daughter relations, and respond to 'the most tumultuous decade of Britain's domestic racial history' (Akala, 2019).

The paper explores how the films prompt us to unlearn our seeing, thinking and feeling habits. It adopts intersectionality as both a 'provisional concept' and an 'analytic sensibility' (Carastathis, 2016).

Ana presents at the Decolonising Archives Symposium

Dr Mohammad Namazi

Listening Back to the Archives

Dr Mohammad Namazi is an artist, educator and researcher based in London.

The discourse between cultural memory and coloniality underpins his research project. Mohammad’s archival investigation aims to test the role of archives as the embodiments of a collective cultural representation.

He reflects on his journey into the archive as a creative interloper, mirroring his journey as an Iranian artist in the UK.

Mohammad presents at the Decolonising Archives Symposium

More to explore

  • Black man researching in archives wearing white gloves
    Archive Research by Damilola Ayo-Vaughan BA Culture, Criticism and Curation CSM UAL © Alys Tomlinson

    Reflections from our researchers in residence

    Read more about our researchers in residence and their projects.

  • Gallery with placards made out of magazines
    Sonia Boyce, Devotional Wallpaper and Placards, 2008-2020. Acquired by the Contemporary Art Society for the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA) through the Rapid Response Fund, 2020.


    Learn about Decolonising Arts Institute activities.

  • People looking at artworks in an exhibition
    Image: Andrew Brooks, AHRC Black Artists & Modernism project, Speech Acts exhibition opening, Manchester Art Gallery. Image: Andrew Brooks

    Event recordings

    Explore our recorded events.