We’re a collective of academic activists, seeking to start a conversation about coloniality in STEM. Our first initiative is a symposium, aimed to critically explore coloniality, privilege, and power in and around science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and the institutions that bolster and support the colonial matrix. For information on how to apply to participate, see “The Symposium” section.
Our ethos is one of respect, nurture and radical care. As a collective we will foster an environment for action-led, theoretically informed, strategies for robustly unpacking the landscape of STEM, with an understanding that ‘empire’ and ‘whiteness’ are multifaceted, and as such intertwined with, and embedded in, other supremacist frameworks of control – such as patriarchy, heteronormativity, ableism, and the ‘Other’ – all of which contribute to a scientific rationality that facilitates and reproduces a colonial mindset.
The creation of a collective to decolonise STEM is born with a sense of urgency and recognition that we must act if we are to survive the pervasive politics of the moment. This collective recognises how these politics – of empire and white supremacy – are deeply embedded and upheld by our hegemonic understanding of science, institutional practice, and emerging technologies. The intellectual and political well-spring of science and technology studies (STS) is activism: it is our belief that this ethos has to be reclaimed if STS is to robustly contribute to the position of science in such turbulent times.
The decolonising STEM agenda is shared across the UCL STS PhD and MSc community, and touches on all aspects of our research. It re-unites the STS desire for interdisciplinarity, which at times, under a neo-liberal system gets lost or is engaged with only in an attempt to appease the marketised logics of academia: the creation of ever-individuating ‘bankable’ niches as opposed to sites of collective action, change and genuinely new insight . Our collective seeks to reclaim these bonds, and utilise our shared knowledge of sociology, philosophy, history, politics and communication, as well as our lived experiences as early year academics in a time of political, social, and environmental change, which touches everything we engage in, scientific or otherwise.
As such, we are willing and demand to have uncomfortable conversations, regarding issues such as eugenics and our institutional relationships with eugenicists; climate poverty and our accountability both locally and globally; and supremacy within STEM more generally – who gets access and who doesn’t? Who gets to speak and who gets smothered? We recognise that we are all at times complicit in the reproduction of hegemony, of oppressive systems. We lean into these tensions as a means to disrupt them, as opposed to turning away.