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Durham University

School of Modern Languages & Cultures

Events in Modern Languages & Cultures

Professor Sara Ahmed [Goldsmith's College, University of London]: 'Diversity Work as Institutional Work'

26th January 2011, 12:00, ED101, School of Education, Durham University

Research paper organised by the MLAC Culture and Difference Research Group.

This paper offers a set of reflections on how diversity is "done" within institutions as a way of asking a broader set of questions about the nature of power, resistance and social change. I will focus on some of the paradoxes that follow when institutions that have historically been sites of whiteness, racism, and inequality express a commitment to diversity. The paper will draw on interviews with diversity practitioners based in universities in the UK and Australia as well as my own experiences as a person of color working within higher education in the UK. I will ask what it means to think of diversity work as institutional work. Diversity practitioners do not simply work at or in institutions, they also work on them, given that their explicit remit is to redress existing institutional goals or priorities. An explicit attention to institutions can teach us about their implicit significance and meaning. I will suggest that diversity work can be understood as a "phenomenological practice": it is by coming up against institutions that we generate knowledge about them.

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