Sites Of Resistance: Round Table

“My second job as a teenager was shelving books at the only library in Lorin, Ohio. Every shift started with a tall stack of returned books – fiction, history, drama, poetry, everything. It didn’t pay much, but it was magical. Then I got fired. The trouble was that instead of replacing the books on the shelves, I kept reading them. A title would catch my eye, I’d crack the book open for just a quick look, and pretty soon I’d forget the stack of returns. I didn’t get far in my career as a librarian but that experience opened my eyes and shaped my future. That’s what libraries do.” – Toni Morrison, Letter to Queens Public Library, 2018.

“For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.  They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.” – Audre Lorde

Libraries are often the first places that many of us discovered books, reading, writing, and even a community. As libraries face cuts and closures, how are we independently and collaboratively self organising to provide each other with safe spaces, places for creativity and learning? Have libraries, in any case, always been curated spaces: who has defined them as spaces? Who has written, published and chosen the books within them?

Why have so many decolonising struggles taken place in universities? Can universities be sites of resistance? Is it possible to be radical within an institution? Why are we so often filled with shame and anxiety when we are critical – including or especially of each other? How do we build sites of resistance, where critique is encouraged?

How do we support each other and critique each other from a place of love and care, and not fall into the pits of competition? And living in a patriarchal capitalist system, how can we avoid our selves and our narratives being commodified? How do we avoid falling into the traps of self-orientalising or of performing resistance? These are some of the questions we will be asking on our roundtable of writers and activists, who have all been committed to their own forms of resistance.

Panellists: Lisa Palmer, Sara Khan, Sham Murad, Darren Chetty, Roseanne Chantiluke
Chair: Aliyah Hasinah