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Changing Institutions: Common Sense, Complaint and Other Lessons in Legacy

Thursday, May 9, 2024 at 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Organised by the Intersectional Humanities Research Hub

Online and In person

Lecture Theatre 2, English Faculty, St Cross Building, Manor Road, Oxford OX1 3UL

Register here to join the seminar in person only

Speaker: Sara Ahmed

‘In my book, On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life, published over a decade ago, I explored how diversity is used by institutions as a way of appearing to doing something. The appearance of change can be a form of resistance to change. And yet, diversity is increasingly framed as forced change, an ideological imposition, or as compelled speech. Given these attacks on diversity and equality initiatives, it might seem that it is time to abandon our critiques of what diversity is not doing. One of my aims in this lecture is to show how these critiques give us the tools to explain and challenge what is going on. I will draw on two projects: the first on complaint; the second on common sense. For the former, I spoke to academics and students who had made or considered making complaints about abuses of power and inequalities within universities. I am now working on a new book A Complainer’s Handbook: A Guide to Building Less Hostile Institutions, in which I pull out the significance of this research for an understanding of institutional change. I will also draw on a new project on common sense. Common sense is increasingly appealed to as a legacy, an alternative to “wokeism,” and as an argument against institutional change.’


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St Cross Building
St Cross Building
Oxford, England OX1 3TJ United Kingdom


TORCH | The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities
View Organiser Website

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