Roundtable: Education, Intersectionality and Social Change

This Roundtable will reflect on numerous issues surrounding antiracism, intersectionality, education and social change as well as summarise the contributions, ideas and dialogues of the day.

Roundtable participants: Heidi Safia Mirza (University of London), Aretha Phiri (University of Edinburgh), Janine Bradbury (University of Sheffield), Michelle Keown (University of Edinburgh) and Mike Shaw (University of Edinburgh)

Participant details:

Heidi Safia Mirza:
Our keynote speaker’s biography is available here.

Aretha Phiri

Aretha is of Zimbabwean nationality and is a third year PhD candidate in the English Department at Edinburgh University. She spent six years in South Africa at Rhodes University where she obtained Undergraduate, Honours, and Masters Degrees, all with distinction, in English. At her current university, Edinburgh, Aretha is a Teaching Assistant in the English Department. Aretha’s research focus is American, African-American and African literature and her specific area of interest is subjectivity/identity which, more broadly, incorporates race, gender and sexuality/body studies and, very recently, ecocriticism. While she is normally at home in race and gender theory, Aretha is currently, and somewhat uncomfortably, immersed in existential philosophy. Her PhD is an investigation into the violence of subjectivity but also textual/discursive violence and, perhaps because of her philosophical angst, the limits of philosophy therein. Aretha’s is a comparative study of the fiction of American (South) authors Toni Morrison, Cormac McCarthy, and (southern) African writers, J. M. Coetzee, and Yvonne Vera. Her project is provisionally titled: “‘Unspeakable Things Unspoken’: Violent subjectivities, textual violence and the limits of philosophy in the fiction of Morrison, McCarthy, Vera and Coetzee.” She has published on the dialectics of race in South Africa, and Africanism in Mark Twain.

Janine Bradbury

Janine Bradbury is a doctoral researcher, teaching associate and project officer at The University of Sheffield. She is currently writing up her PhD in African American women’s writing, which she has pursued, part-time while working at her University. She has a particular interest in equality and diversity issues and a professional background in student recruitment and outreach. She is a member of The Runnymede Trust’s Emerging Scholars Forum, has appeared in The Guardian and on Radio 4 and can be followed on Twitter: @janinebradders.

Michelle Keown

Michelle Keown is Senior Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Edinburgh, where she teaches courses on Postcolonial writing, New Zealand and Pacific literature and film, and Modernism and empire. Her research specialism is Postcolonial literature and theory, particularly that of the Pacific region. She has published widely on Maori and Pacific writing and is the author of Postcolonial Pacific Writing: Representations of the Body (Routledge, 2005) and Pacific Islands Writing: The Postcolonial Literatures of Aotearoa/New Zealand and Oceania (Oxford University Press, 2007). She is co-editor (with David Murphy and James Procter) of Comparing Postcolonial Diasporas(Palgrave, 2009); co-editor of The Edinburgh Introduction to Studying English Literature (Edinburgh University Press, 2010); and has edited (with Stuart Murray) a special issue of the Journal of New Zealand Literature (no. 21, 2003) focusing upon diasporic connections between Aotearoa/New Zealand and the UK. Current research projects are focused on postcolonial diasporas; postcolonial translation studies; Anglo-American imperialism and the Pacific; postcolonial reception theory; and the medical humanities.

Mike Shaw

Mike Shaw is an undergraduate Mathematical Physics student at the University of Edinburgh and a campaigner for public education. He is a trustee of Edinburgh University Students’ Association and is provisional President of the Edinburgh University Socialist Society. As a member of the National Committee of the National Campaign Against Fees & Cuts (NCAFC) he supports and advises education activists across the UK. Mike is currently leading a scheme to establish student housing co-operatives in Edinburgh and to form a national representative body for student co-ops. As a sufferer of mental health problems, Mike has a keen interest in the ties and frictions between political radicalism and mental health issues.  During his time at University he has successfully campaigned for fixed international fees, better bursaries for rest-of-UK students, and to prevent a major deal between the University and the Bahraini government. In his spare time he is Commissar of Visual Stimuli for the Edinburgh Rascal, a contemptuous muck-rag of satire and whimsy. Mike also takes a particular interest in anarchism and bunting.


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