A Blueprint study for a Master in Critical Diaspora, Race and Liberation Studies

UCOS, WeDecolonizeVUB, BCUS, RHEA and BIRMM together with other individual partners inside and outside of the VUB, like professors and students, created the Blueprint study for a Master in Critical Liberation/Ethnic Studies

The project looks at how we can create a master program that starts from the notion that racialized and marginalized people’s lives are not sufficiently archived within Belgium’s society. This project also wants to take into account the structures that already exist and look at them from a critical perspective while creating safer spaces where people’s lives and stories can be archived and used in a way to function as a decolonial tool to challenge the way we see structures. Creating such a master programme, can bring new, or silenced and better knowledge, while contributing to more racial and social justice.

Next to that, this project also wants to find out what a critical liberation/ethnic studies master would look like with an institution such as the VUB while rooting it within communities outside of VUB, in a truly decolonized way.

This project’s ultimate goal would be to create a critical ethnic studies master program. However, a short-term objective would be to create for example modules and courses within already existing master programs centered around a decolonial approach in creating knowledge. We believe that by working with short-term goals, we can stay productive and work towards our bigger goals.

Hopefully these objectives will be realized through allies within our partner institutions. As mentioned before there might already be knowledge available around this topic or other people doing similar work as us, which is why we find it important to connect finding synergies with people who are already doing this work and link their knowledge to this project. Important to note, however, is that this work is often not possible without funding, which is why we will look for funding outside of the university in order to realize the master.

This project has been awarded research funding by BCUS, and is co-funded by BIRMM and RHEA-Fatima Mernissi Chair.

For this ‘Blueprint Study’ we realized a literature review on how similar master programmes in the USA, the UK and elsewhere have contributed (or not) to more racial justice. We also interviewed and conducted focus groups with students, individuals from communities and academics of colour. We asked them which decolonial archiving and teaching practices already exist, and what an ideal critical ethnic and racial studies master should look like.