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Decolonising your reading list: Tips and advice

Decolonising your reading list

Tips and advice

Some modules choose to adopt a textbook as the primary resource for their programme. You are likely to find that the majority of academic textbooks you find are written by authors from the Global North. You will likely need to look beyond traditional textbooks and publishers to find materials offering different perspectives.

Pin board

You are likely to need look beyond mainstream academic publishers to find literature that represents marginalised voices. The University of Kent has collated a sources of diverse material Padlet that may help broaden your search.

Open access logo

Open access journals can be a good place to start to engage with the global research literature in your discipline. The following resources provide access to a range of open access journal articles:

 

Africa

Latin America

India

Consider searching for grey literature in your subject area focusing on the perspectives of ethnic minority communities. Grey literature refers to literature published outside of traditional publishing and distribution channels. Search engines are useful in tracking down this type of information. Here are some tips: 

Archives are not neutral 

It is important to remember that archives are not neutral. The archives you will encounter in archive repositories today exist due to decisions made in the past about their historical value by recordkeepers or archivists, who as a profession are still predominantly white and middle-class. These decisions were often based on colonial structures and influenced by the dominant historical narratives of the time, which in the UK have largely centred around the white, middle-class British experience. As a result, many voices - particularly those of Black, Asian and minority ethnic people - have been marginalised, misrepresented or excluded from archives. A growing understanding of systemic racism, greater engagement with diverse communities, and efforts to diversify the workforce are slowly leading to positive change in the archive sector, though there is still much more work to be done.

When using archives, you should consider both what the records reveal and conceal.

Are there any gaps? What is not recorded? Are there any absent voices? Why?

Below are details are some of our digital archives that may be helpful in your search for diverse perspectives.

Seeking out alternative formats of information can be a good way of including a wider range of voices in your reading list. The following resources may be good places to start:

Searching for authors from specific regions

World mapWiden the scope of authors included in your reading list by focusing on geographical regions

A number of research databases allow you to carry out searches on specific topics and then explore the results by geographical region. 

Once you have identified some key authors in your field of practice to explore, you can carry out additional searches using their names or institutions to identify any books, papers or conference proceedings that may be relevant to share with your students. Click through the tabs to view more information and demonstrations.

Video (4 minutes) detailing how to refine your search results on Web of Science to specific regions and institutions.

Use the 'analyse search' option and filters in SCOPUS to explore published work on specific topics by region. This will help you identify prominent authors publishing in your discipline area.

This video (2 minutes) demonstrates how to do this using SCOPUS.

Special collections

The University of Exeter Library's Special Collections hold many archives, which are available for everyone to use for learning, research and pleasure. These include archives relating to the Middle East and Africa, as well as archives recorded in different languages, such as Arabic or Nubian languages. 

The Special Collections team is currently working to make its collections more representative and inclusive of its communities. As a first step, they are reviewing their catalogues and have recently created guides to Black History & LGBTQ+ research resources. If you have any feedback or would like to get involved in this work, please email the team at libspc@exeter.ac.uk

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