“Decolonise STEM: Resisting, Unlearning and Imagining” has taken place, and it has been a wonderful day! Thoughts were shared, friendships started, and we hope it was just a first step.

More good things are on their way. Email us at decolonisestem@gmail.com if you wish to be kept up-to-date. And don’t worry about spam: we just don’t have the time for it!

If you’ve just met us, and are interested in the programme and ethos of the event, read on.

Date and Location: Saturday 5th October 2019, Elvin Hall, Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London, WC1H 0AL.

Keynote Speakers: Dr Arianne Shahvisi and Dr Christine (Xine) Yao


09:30-10:30Coffee and Registration
10:00-10:30Welcome/Opening Statement from the Decolonise STEM Collective
10:30-11:30Keynote: “Decolonising STEM Should Not Be a Metaphor”, Christine “Xine” Yao, University College London
12:00-13:00Panel 1: Experiences in STEM: Strategies of Survival (Sultanah Parvin, Alex Fitzpatrick, Nuzhat Tabassum; Chair: Maymana Arefin)
14:00-15:00Panel 2: Decolonising STEM (Divya M. Persaud, Furaha Asani, Andrea Jimenez, Syed Mustafa Ali; Chair: kat cecil)
16:30-17:30Keynote: “Medicine for the Margins: Why It’s Time to Decolonise Global Health”, Arianne Shahvisi, University of Sussex
17:30-18:00Closing Remarks
18:00-21:00Drinks at The Marquiss Cornwallis (31 Marchmont Street, Bloomsbury, London, WC1N 1AP)


The creation of a Decolonise STEM Collective is born from anger. We are angry. Angry that a hegemonic understanding of science and technology is weaponised to facilitate pervasive politics, and that those politics are used against us and our planet. Angry that those of us that engage in science, who are experts in its creation, are doubted, silenced, and have to work ten times as hard. Angry that systems of care supported by science, such as access to medicine and mental health services, are distributed first and foremost to the intersectionally privileged, and that this distribution reproduces stereotypes and spirit injury. Angry at being objectified through diversity schemes as mere statistics and good news stories. Angry that institutional buildings are named after eugenicists, racists, and colonialists, who are then heralded as bastions of scientific objectivity. Angry at the degree awarding gap, the PhD funding bias, access to promotion, access to jobs, access to access. Angry that in the whole of the UK we have only 26 Black women professors. 26.

We are angry at not being ‘allowed’ to be angry, because, as Audre Lorde says, our anger is powerful and frightening.

Today’s symposium is a reaction to that anger. It is an opportunity for us, as scholar activists, as scientists, as practitioners, as educators, as friends, to share our stories of existing angrily in the heteropatriarchal white space of STEM, to collaborate ideas and strategies, to dismantle and reimagine a scientific world outside of coloniality and empire. Today’s symposium is about changemaking, empowerment, and radical care. Today’s symposium, we hope, will be the beginning of something much larger, a network of support and a toolkit for change.

This symposium is for us. Welcome to the Decolonise STEM Collective.

The ethos of the symposium is one of respect, nurture and radical care. Within this space, we wish to ensure that all perspectives are not only heard but listened to as valid, especially those that are so often silenced by the structuring forces of race, gender, education, sexuality, age, class, nationality, indigeneity, ability. As such, together we strive to maintain a space where all ideas are heard equally and articulated with the respect of difference in mind.

This event is just the beginning of what we hope is the start of a vital, lively and supportive network committed to a common cause.

The Decolonise STEM Collective

kat cecil, Maymana Arefin, Shelley Saggar, Santiago Guzman Gamez, Trupti Patel, Elena Falco, Sandra Ogundele, Benjamin Weil, Rakhshi Memon, Claudia Cristalli, Roween Rawat

About the Keynotes

Christine “Xine” Yao hails from Toronto, Canada. She joined UCL in 2018 as Lecturer in American Literature in English to 1900. She held a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of British Columbia (2016-2018). In 2016 Xine acted as PhD Marshal for her graduation from Cornell University where she completed her PhD in English with minors in American Studies and Feminism, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Her MA is from Dalhousie University and her BA Honours is from the University of Toronto, Trinity College where she earned the Chancellor’s Gold Medal in the Arts. She is the co-host of PhDivas, a podcast about academia, culture, and social justice across the STEM/humanities divide. Xine is the founding chair of the podcast initiative for C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists. You can find these podcasts on iTunes.

Arianne Shahvisi is a Kurdish-British academic philosopher. Originally trained as a physicist, Arianne went on to complete a doctorate in the philosophy of science, and is now Senior Lecturer in Ethics at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School, where her research focusses on race, gender, and social epistemology. Arianne has written commentary for Prospect, Media Diversified, New Statesman, and Jacobin, and has featured on BBC Radio and Channel 4 News. Arianne serves as an editorial board member for Kohl, a feminist journal on gender and sexuality in the Middle East, and is science editor for literary magazine The Offing, which seeks out and supports work by those marginalized in literary spaces

About the Panellists

Panel 1: Experiences in STEM: Strategies of Survival

Sultanah Parvin has been an educator for the last 20 years in a variety of small independent schools in East London. Her current work has involved inspiring activities to allow for young BME children to carve our spaces for joy and fun within the context of living within deprived and underfunded areas of London. This includes a project called PLAYSTREETS, activities around speech making, and sports. She is also a mother of three children.

She has spent the last 25 years working in her community and engaging with issues impacting Black and ethnic minority communities specifically anti blackness in the South Asian community, misogyny, white supremacy and the emotional well-being of Muslim women. She has spoken on a number of panels regarding such issues and written on such topics for Middle East Eye and Media Diversified.

Alex Fitzpatrick is a zooarchaeologist and current PhD candidate at the University of Bradford. Her current research concerns faunal remains recovered from the Covesea Caves in north-east Scotland and involves focused analysis of the taphonomic characteristics from these remains to further investigate complex Later Prehistoric cosmologies and funerary rites.

In her spare time, Ms. Fitzpatrick dabbles in science communication, as a blogger (www.animalarchaeology.com) and as the host of a zooarchaeology podcast called ArchaeoAnimals on the Archaeology Podcast Network (www.archaeologypodcastnetwork.com/animal

Nuzhat Tabassum is a Geology PhD student at the University of Bristol. Her research combines lab analysis of diamond inclusions and high-pressure experiments to investigate the volatile cycle of the solid Earth. She is passionate about carving out space for PoC in academia; her earliest efforts include founding the Cambridge University Bangla Society and as a postgraduate, her efforts continue through a wide range of diversity projects, including the Being BME in STEM: Bristol University’s One Day conference. She is producing a podcast with Dr. Jazmin Scarlett to make Earth Sciences more accessible and exciting to the public.

Nuzhat reported a harassment case in 2017 and has first-hand experience in generating tangible mitigative measures to combat inequality in the work-place. She maintains a visible and vocal social media presence, where she addresses equal representation, decolonization in academia, LGBTQ+ rights and the trappings of selective white sympathy.

Panel 2: Decolonising STEM

Divya M. Persaud is a planetary scientist, writer, and composer. Her research focuses on developing new methods for remote sensing analysis to understand planetary surfaces and the interiors of Mercury, Mars, and the moons of Saturn, while her artistic work has focused on deconstructing the performer/audience dichotomy to address refuge and place. Divya is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at UCL’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory, where she is employing 3D image processing and visualization for Mars surface geology. Divya holds a B.A. in geology and music composition from the University of Rochester and is an alumna of the NASA Academy.

Furaha Asani is a researcher, mental health advocate, and teacher born and raised in Nigeria to a Congolese father and an Armenian-Ukrainian mother. She obtained her undergraduate and Master’s degrees in Biochemistry from the University of Johannesburg and her PhD in Infection and Immunity from the University of Sheffield. She’s also a writer who has written for several online platforms about issues in higher education, healthcare, and science in pop culture. Furaha is passionate about taking steps towards an equitable higher education system and amplifying the voices of Black students and staff in Higher Education.

Andrea Jimenez is Lecturer at the Information School’s University of Sheffield. For 7 years she has been interested in exploring how the concept of innovation has entered the development sector as a buzzword, to mean everything and nothing at the same time. Through this exploration she has come to the realisation that most of what we know around innovation is embedded in Western thinking, characterised by individualism and an obsession with growth and progress. She suspects that there is a need to adopt alternative epistemologies that work in conjunction – not opposition to ontologies and value systems in the global South. In this path she is exploring the concept of Buen Vivir (Sumak Kawsay), an indigenous Latin American intercultural approach, and exploring the theoretical implications of changing the lens on innovation to a Buen Vivir Approach.

Syed Mustafa Ali is Lecturer and convenor of the Critical Information Studies (CIS) research group in the School of Computing and Communications at The Open University. His transdisciplinary research focuses on developing a hermeneutic framework grounded in Heideggerian phenomenology, critical race theory and postcolonial/decolonial thought, and using this framework to explore how race, religion, politics and ethics are ‘entangled’ with various technological (more specifically, ICT) phenomena. In this connection, he has published work in the area of Decolonial Computing and Algorithmic racism, interrogating Trans-/Posthumanism, the discourse of ‘Big Data’ and internet governance