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Contemporary Womanist research post George Floyd: compelling developments in Black Feminist Theory

Venue: Online

  • Please note: this event will be recorded
  • This event will take place on Blackboard Collaborate. A guest link to join the sessions will be sent out at 5pm on Monday 7th March

Keynote speaker: Professor Patricia Daley, : 'Lives lived globally: Black women's cartographies of being: the importance of relationality in research on black women'

Keynote speaker: Dr Tanja Burkhard, 'Black Feminism and Qualitative Research'

Other speakers: Carla Bascombe, Jen Davis, Dr Jan Etienne, Professor Uvanney Maylor, Professor Phillis Sheppard, Professor Marcia Wilson

Performance: Poppy Seed


At a time of a worldwide resurgence of collective anti-racist struggle, how can Womanist research promote social justice and actively include research participants in knowledge production? Since the murder of George Floyd there is a new urgency to confront structural racism and patriarchal forces in education, which continue to marginalise the contribution of black women as activist researchers. This conference brings together those interested in using black feminist theory as a reflective lens to ultimately improve black lives.

How are we able to collaborate with social justice minded researchers in developing a strategic way forward?

Contemporary Womanist research seeks to resist as it generates intergenerational, collaborative approaches for change, elevating the narratives of black women and building on the dimensions of an Afrocentric feminist epistemology.  Contemporary Womanist research centres the voices of black women at each stage of the research process. In this way the knowledge claims of the black woman, the lived experiences, and the ethic of caring and personal accountability become vital elements of the research journey. 

The conference considers the influence of black women academics and their potential to change the scope, discourse, and agenda of research on black communities. It acknowledges the invisibility of research participants and practitioners in the field of doing Womanist research and in particular, the under-representation of black, British womanist voices.

How can collaborative Womanist strategies help to strengthen approaches in black feminist research? How do we develop and strengthen our collective roles as progressive, activist educators and researchers as we collect and analyse challenging narratives set to bring about critical change aimed at decolonising education establishments?  What evidenced based strategies should we be adopting when working collaboratively with others in education and in community setting?

The conference is aimed at activists working in education, social justice, community arts, health, social work, and related areas; Researchers and academics in social sciences interested in black feminist and critical race theory, post-colonial and decolonial methodologies; Students of Sociology, Psychosocial studies, Politics; Humanities, Youth and Community Development studies; Individuals focused on constructions of Motherhood; intersectionality, faith, disability, sexualities; 'race', racism, ethnicity and culture.

Conference programme


11-1 - Conference Videos:

  • Inside of who you are: For the Black Womanist Researcher - Angela Harvey – Poppyseed
  • Researching ‘Self’ and the voice of the black woman in the research process: Acts of Decolonization: A Discursive theory study from the borderland/La Frontera - Dr Joao Tinoco.
  • Black Feminist Theory and Practise and the “Refugee Crisis” – Revisiting theory and struggle on the margins - Nandita Sirker
  • Windrush women’s wisdom - Visual narratives as tools for Womanist research - Iesha Denize Ledeatte
  • In Her Shoes: Interrogations of Intersectional Colourism’ in Évelyne Trouillot’s Short Fiction - Carla Bascombe


Conference Chair: Elizabeth Charles

2.00: Welcome - Professor Karen Wells (Director, Birkbeck Institute for Social Research)

2.05: Brief introductions to conference papers:

Dr Clare Choak, Professor Patricia Daley, Mel Green, Carmelita Kadeena Whyte, Iesha Denize Ledeatte, Professor Uvanney Maylor, Nandita Sirker, Professor Phillis Sheppard, Dr Joao Tinoco, Professor Marcia Wilson, Palmela Witter.

2.15: Contemporary Womanist Research Post George Floyd, Dr Jan Etienne

2.30: Black Feminism and Qualitative Research: Dr Tanja Burkhard

2.50: Questions and Discussion

3.15: Performance Poet – Poppyseed


4.30: Plenary

5.00: End


*Speaker Panels (3.30-4.30pm) details:

Title / Panel speaker(P)/Welcome(W)  /Chair(C) /Note taker(NT)
1.Windrush women’s wisdom - Visual narratives as tools for Womanist research. Iesha Denize Ledeatte(P)/Julia Barratt-Mowatt(W)/Dr Beverley Hayward (C)/Dr Beverley Hayward(NT)
2. Saving Black Lives: Black Women’s research and leadership in Higher Education. Professor Marcia Wilson (P)/Lurraine Jones (W)/Lurraine Jones (C)/Lurraine Jones(NT)
3. Black feminist research as a tool for Black women’s survival. Professor Uvanney Maylor (P)/Dr Titus Mathurin (W)/Dr Titus Mathurin (C)/Jen Davis(NT)
4. Black Lives Matter – A black womanist approach to fighting racial injustice in the Voluntary Sector. Palmela Witter (P)/Yasmin Adan (W)/Yasmin Adan (C)/Yasmin Adan(NT)
5. Black Feminist Theory and Practise and the “Refugee Crisis” – Revisiting theory and struggle on the margins. Nandita Sirker (P)/Funmike Alonge (W)/Natasha Cox (C)/Funmike Alonge(NT)
6. A voice for black women’s art in society - a charter. Carmelita Kadeena-Whyte (P)/Rosalind Harris(W)/Lou Miller (C)/Lou Miller(NT)
7.  Raising disability: Exploring the intersections of a Black mother raising an autistic child. Mel Green (P)/Dr Jan Etienne (W)/Dr Jan Etienne(C)/Dr Jan Etienne(NT)
8. Researching ‘Self’ and the voice of the black woman in the research process: Acts of Decolonization: A Discursive theory study from the borderland/La Frontera. Dr Joao Tinoco (P)/Agatha Modeste (W)/Dr Sue Dunn(C)/Dr Sue Dunn(NT)
9. Decolonisation and Higher Education: Adopting a black and postcolonial feminist approach to the degree awarding gap. Dr Clare Choak (P)/Yolanda Royer-Yarde(W)/Dr Christina Howell Richardson(C)/Dr Christina Howell Richardson (NT)
10. Womanist Research in a Double Pandemic. Professor Phillis Sheppard (P)/Dawn Joseph(W)/Dawn Joseph(C)/Dawn Joseph(NT) 

This event is organised in partnership with the Womanism, Activism, Higher Education Research Network 

Contact name:

  • Carla Bascombe -

    Currently based in New York City, Carla Bascombe is a PhD candidate in French at the University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago where she also earned a BA in French and Latin American Studies and an MPhil in French. She also holds an MA in Languages and International Business from the Université d’Orléans, France. Her PhD thesis, entitled “Fac[ing] the pages”: Rescripting the Haitian Problematic in the Prose of Évelyne and Lyonel Trouillot,” focuses on the work of two writers who write from and about their native Haiti. Carla’s research engages with historical revisionism and the Trouillot siblings’ treatment of gender, narratology, colourism and transgenerational trauma. Her other interests include literary onomastics, return migration in the Caribbean and decoloniality. Her publications on Haitian literature have appeared in Karib – Nordic Journal for Caribbean Studies and Short Fiction theory and practice.

  • Dr Jan Etienne -

    Dr Jan Etienne is a Birkbeck Fellow and Associate Lecturer in the School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy. She is a Womanist researcher and Chair of the Womanism, Activism and Higher Education Research Network. Jan is also an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Geography and a graduate of the School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol. Jan teaches on the MSc Education, Power and Social Change programme in the Department of Psychosocial Studies. She is Module Leader for Education Globalisation and Change and is a member of the Decolonising the Academy Collective and Hub Leader for Student Experience.

  • Dr Tanja Burkhard -

    Tanja Burkhard is a postdoctoral associate at the University of Pittsburgh and recent graduate from the Ohio State University‘s doctoral program in Multicultural & Equity Studies in Education. There, she worked as a research and teaching associate centering issues of race, gender, and migration. This work culminated in her dissertation “Horizons of Home and Hope: A Qualitative Exploration of the Educational Narratives and Identities of Black Transnational Women.” Tanja’s background is in applied linguistics and translation studies, which makes language the starting point of all of her work.

    Dr. Burkhard is currently revisiting the data from her dissertation for the purposes of delving deeper into the radicalized and gendered narratives of Black transnational women as they seek access to formal education.

  • Jen Davis -

    Jen Davis is co-author of 'Whiteness in Denial: Promoting culturally specific conversations in higher Education.' She works in Parliament and is a law graduate, currently completing a master's degree in politics. She is creator and co-host of Consensus Podcast, a platform which discusses current affairs and politics from the viewpoints of young black women. She is a member of the Womanism, Activism, Higher Education Research Network, and the Diverse Communities Advisory Board, which advises the Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities on issues impacting black and minority ethnic communities. She is actively involved in youth and community activism and works with young people on criminal justice and raising awareness of sickle cell.


    Angela Harvey, alternatively known as Poppy Seed, is a writer/composer/performance poet that takes performance poetry to a new level. She presents poetic jazz-roots and culture that has been described as being on the 'cusp of poetry and song.' She sheds a positively appealing 'light' on urban music scene. Born in London on Poppy Day (11.11) of Jamaican parentage, Poppy Seed embraces remembrance of past generations.

    Poppy Seed has been making steady waves on the London poetry scene for the past seven years. Appearances include Glastonbury, Chats Palace, ICA, The Albany, Base, and Oval theatres, Africa Centre, Yaa Asantewa Centre, Rock Garden, Portabella Jazz Fest, Subterania, The Fridge, various Community Festivals, London Colleges, Prisons and social injustice campaigns. 1998 saw extensive work on the first album, and 1999 marked the Poppy Seed debut in Jamaica where she received an overwhelming reception and notoriety. She was acknowledged at International Black Woman 2000 in London where she gave an outstanding performance, and went on to be a hit in New York, performing live on the circuit and radio.

  • Professor Marcia Wilson -

    Professor Marcia Wilson joined The Open University as Dean of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in December 2020. Previously, she established the Office for Institutional Equity (OIE) at the University of East London (UEL) to address inequalities within UEL and across the education sector. Her work included equality projects with Universities UK and London Higher to tackle racism in higher education institutes.   

    Marcia has spent 29 years teaching and conducting research in higher education. Throughout that time, she also worked for eight years in sport psychology and performance enhancement at the English Football Association. Marcia has won multiple awards for her work in higher education, including the UEL Student-Led Teaching award for Best Lecturer, where she was nominated by her students and beat 400 lecturers to the prize. Other accolades include the Pay It Forward Inspirational Women’s Award and the Precious Leadership Award.  

  • Professor Patricia Daley -

    Professor Patricia Daley is Professor of the Human Geography of Africa. She is also Vice-Principal and The Helen Morag Fellow in Geography at Jesus College, Oxford. She served as the University Assessor (2015-2016) and was co-founder of the Oxford University Black and Minority Ethnic staff network. She sits on the University’s Academic Conduct Panel.

    Her previous academic appointments were at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, Loughborough University and Pembroke College, Oxford. She has taught a range of human geography topics, as well as specialist courses on African societies and environments. At Jesus College she held the administrative offices of Tutor for Admissions (1999-2002) and Tutor for Women (1998-2004). She has sat on various College committees, including the Academic Committee, Disciplinary Panel, and the Accommodation, Catering and Conference Committee (ACC), and chaired the Staff Liaison Committee. As Vice-Principal, she chairs the Personnel and ACC committees and the Equality and Diversity Working Group.

  • Professor Phillis Sheppard -

    Phillis Isabella Sheppard is E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Associate Professor of Religion, Psychology, and Culture at Vanderbilt University, and the Director of the James Lawson Institute for the Research and Study of Nonviolent Movements. Her research engages the intersection where the social and the intrapsychic meet. In her book Self, Culture and Others in Womanist Practical Theology (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) she argued for a psychoanalytic dimension to womanist approaches to practical theology. The book was the focus of a panel discussion at the American Academy of Religion’s Womanist Approaches to Religion and Society session.

    Dr. Sheppard interests in institutional service and administration are a longstanding feature of her career. In addition to having served as the Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the Divinity School, she is the Chair for Religion, Psychology, and Culture area. In 2016, she was elected as Chair of the faculty and as Chair of the Personnel and Policy Committee. She was Co-Chair of the Curriculum Transformation Committee, and is the faculty convener for the Spirituality and Social Activism Concentration. Prior to joining Vanderbilt Divinity School, she served as Co-Director of the Center for Practical Theology and Chair of the Spiritual Life Committee at Boston University School of Theology.

  • Professor Uvanney Maylor -

    Professor Uvanney Maylor is Professor of Education. She is a member of the Institute for Research in Education at the University of Bedfordshire, and leads the 'Participation, citizenship, rights and equity issues' research group.

    Prior to joining the University of Bedfordshire, she was a Reader in Education at the Institute for Policy Studies in Education at London Metropolitan University, and Director of Multiverse (a professional resource network for initial teacher education).

    She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. From 2008-11 she was an elected member of the British Educational Research Association Executive Council. She was an academic panel member of the Education Unit of Assessment in the Research in Excellence Framework (REF) (2014) and has been invited to serve for a second time in REF 2021 (UK RI Research England). In 2019 she was invited to be a member of the UK Council for Graduate Education, Working Group on Black and Minority Ethnic participation in postgraduate research.