Beyond Breaking the Chains: Decolonisation as transformation

Ibezim, Victoria Adaobi, Ajayi, Chinyere orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8098-5676, Ayub, Orooj, Chohan, Ambreen orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-0544-7832, Cooling, Peter, Huntington, Michael James, Kaur, Suntosh orcid iconORCID: 0009-0009-7345-7072, Manley, Julian Y orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-2548-8033, Mcgarvey-Gill, Che et al (2022) Beyond Breaking the Chains: Decolonisation as transformation. Social Dialogue Magazine, 14 . ISSN 2221-352X

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The eruption of anger that came about after the brutal murder of the African-American, George Floyd in 2021, was translated into a worldwide Black Lives Matter movement which has had long lasting repercussions in the UK. There is a new and generalised feeling of urgency for radical action and a growing knowledge and awareness of historical racial injustice has emerged into the mainstream and within higher education. This is exemplified by the new research centre, the Global Race Centre for Equality (GRACE) at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

The aim of this paper is to focus on efforts in transforming decolonisation in the School of Social Work, Care and Community at UCLan. Awareness of the need for decolonisation is an important first step to inclusivity in the curriculum. However, inclusivity is not an end in itself as, in the context of the UK, minority groups might be paradoxically included and excluded at the same time.

The complexity of attempts to truly decolonise the curriculum should begin with simple measures, such as reviewing reading lists for students. However, the successful interpretation of inclusivity requires a whole system approach to change, which is nothing less than a radical transformation of structures, norms, routines and habits which many ethnic ‘Anglo-Saxon’ teaching staff at university carry with them, often unconsciously. We say ‘Anglo-Saxon’ in inverted commas and in the knowledge, as described a long time ago by Fanon (1967), that people of different ethnicities are also capable of colonised behaviour, among themselves and towards different ethnicities, as part of the struggle to speak the language of Fanon’s ‘white world’ (p. 15). At the same time, it is also true that all people of colour are objects of difference compared to white people in the Western world. This is the point made by Robinson (1995, pp. 1-2) who chooses to include different ethnicities under the term ‘black’.

This article discusses the development of an innovative strategy for change being developed at UCLan.

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