SOAS Library’s Decolonisation Operational Group is a group of Library, Learning, Research and Enterprise (LLRE) directorate staff who are working together to decolonise SOAS Library and its collections. We started this as a grassroots, ongoing project in 2019, and are now proud to be a part of the Decolonising SOAS Working Group‘s formal library cluster. Our aim is work towards decolonising SOAS Library, as part of SOAS’s wider Decolonising SOAS Vision. In order to achieve this, we are keen to work on improving the accessibility of the indigenous material in our collections, to sustain relationships with overseas publishers, and to decolonise knowledge by challenging Western-centric epistemologies by bringing to light global histories and ways of thinking.
You can read our Terms of Reference at this link.
Ludi is China & Inner Asia Librarian at SOAS Library, is of mixed race white and Chinese, and is also co-chair of the Library’s decolonisation operational group. She completed her Ph.D. in Information Science at City, University of London’s library school, #CityLIS, where she is also a visiting lecturer. Her current research interests focus on fan information behaviour and participatory cultures. She is also co-founder of the FanLIS project, which seeks to build bridges between fandom, fan studies, and Library and Information Science.
She has recently written a chapter on decolonising SOAS Library, and is working on building a Hong Kong protest and pro-democracy collection within the Library’s China section.
Co-Chair of the SOAS Decolonising Library Operations Group.
Farzana Qureshi is an Arts and Humanities Librarian at SOAS. In 2015, she was a Principal Investigator for the Two Centuries of Indian Print, a digital collaboration with the British Library. In 2016, she was an International Courier for the Everlasting Flame exhibition held at the National Museum, New Delhi. She is currently a voluntary Outreach Coordinator for Project Dastaan working with Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums. Farzana is passionate about storytelling, diasporas and Asian and African/Caribbean narratives.
As a first generation African born in Britain, I have a real life connection with many items that form part of the collections in SOAS Library, as do many others who have not had the opportunity to walk through the bays of shelving stacks. So much of the history of peoples who are from, what we term, the global south, is buried in the archives of academies of western nations, far removed and unavailable to the very peoples it should be accessible to. Decolonising the library (and archives) in its truest sense must mean making materials that contain or form these histories available to those who feature and are central to them; as characters, but also narrators. How we do that is part of an ongoing discussion, some may even call it struggle, with the current gatekeepers and guardians of these histories, which includes academic institutions, like SOAS where I work. If I am able to make a modest contribution to releasing and revealing some of these histories to the peoples they’re about, then my time as a worker in the library at SOAS will have been worthwhile. These are their histories. It’s time we give it back.
Angelica Baschiera is the Manager of the SOAS Regional Centres and Institutes and
has academic expertise on the study of Swahili manuscripts from an historical
perspective. Previously, she has managed the SOAS Centre of African studies’ multi-
disciplinary activities and has expanded her expertise on Governance related issues
thanks to the Mo Ibrahim foundation ‘Governance in Africa Initiative’ run at the Centre
since 2007. More recently, she has developed links and activities in the field of
contemporary African and African Diaspora arts. Ms Baschiera advises
academics/students/visiting scholars/businesses/creative industries on a range of issues
relating to African studies, and she iis also a SOAS Alumna having done the MA in
African studies in 2000.