Dr Foluke Ifejola Adebisi

Senior Lecturer at the Law School

University of Bristol

The Research Ethics Conference team are very pleased to announce that Foluke Adebisi will be joining REC2021 as one of our keynote speakers.

Dr Foluke Ifejola Adebisi is a Senior Lecturer at the Law School, University of Bristol whose scholarship focuses on decolonial thought in legal education. In 2017, she co-designed a Law and Race unit, which is one of the very few of its kind within the UK.  In September 2019, she convened the first ‘Decolonisation and the Law’ conference at the University of Bristol. She is emerging as a thought leader on decolonisation in UK Higher Education. Her decolonial scholarship, which is pedagogical as well as jurisprudential, examines what happens at the intersection of legal education, law, society and a history of changing ideas of what it means to be human.

 

Foluke is particularly interested in academic concerns that arise from ensuring equality, inclusion and diversity within teaching practice in law and how these intersect with environmental degradation, massive global inequality and the potential for imagining an egalitarian future for humanity.

 

In recognition of her work, in October 2018, Foluke was included in the Bristol BAME Powerlist 2018 - A list of Bristol's 100 most inspiring people from BAME backgrounds. She is also the founder of Forever Africa Conference and Events (FACE), a Pan-African interdisciplinary conference hosted in Bristol. She blogs about her scholarship, pedagogy and interrelated ideas on her website ‘Foluke’s African Skies’. You can click here to take you to Foluke's website.

Keynote Speech: ‘To become the centre of your own life once more’: Self-possession, worlds otherwise and decolonial ethics in research 

 

When it comes to conceptualising research projects, we often turn to pre-existing theoretical frameworks and methods. However, most of the currently accepted research methods were developed alongside the European project of world domination and competition through colonisation. Hence, much of the established canon of disciplinary knowledge contributed to the imperial project of colonisation and thus the making of contemporary relations of oppression. On the other hand, scholarship, action and thought resisting and opposing colonisation also has had a long and deep history including scholars identifying with marginalised and oppressed racial groups in the Global North and scholars from the Global South. It should be noted, cast against this dichotomous background, that institutional ethical guidance, processes, and procedures are frequently inattentive to the differential power dynamics that result from the foregoing historical injustices as well as, more broadly, the experiences of communities marginalised, violated or exploited by colonialism and its legacies. Such communities often have their own ethical codes, which may be explicit or tacit, formally agreed or contested, communicated in writing, verbally or non-verbally. These codes are often grounded in ideas of reclaiming self-possession, as well as alternative ideas about personality, ownership, and property. There exists therefore, a tension in who is considered the natural object of research, the premises of research ethics, the purposes, and processes of research, among other things. Confronted as we are with massive global inequality, structural injustice at home and abroad, extreme poverty and environmental devastation… living through a global pandemic which has exacerbated these already existing fault lines such that the pandemic has had and continues to have the most impact on those already made most vulnerable in our world – we must continually rethink the axiologies and teleologies of research to produce ‘worlds otherwise’. 

Therefore, this presentation will examine some of the broad definitions of what decolonial thought entails and its implications for research ethics. Mention will be made of some of the more obvious historical and contemporary ethical missteps in researching the Other. I will also examine why, despite much change, some of the accepted and supposedly objective epistemologies within research in Higher Education may still reproduce the spirit of these missteps. I will conclude with some ideas as to what decoloniality can teach us about rethinking the role of ethics in research. For some populations who have perennially been the object of research, decoloniality may allow them the space to become the centre of their lives once more. Decoloniality may allow us to abandon the single story of the Other and reclaim a form of paradise. 

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