Race Equality Action Group (REAG)

The Faculty of History has established a Race Equality Action Group (REAG) that will build on and consolidate past initiatives in taking significant action to address racism in the Faculty. The project will be led by a committee including expert External Advisors and drawing on existing Faculty, Staff and Student expertise.  The plan will include short-, medium- and long-term projects that will focus on five key areas, in liaison with other relevant bodies.

  1. Data collection and listening
  2. Recruitment and staff experience
  3. Admissions and student experience
  4. Events and community history
  5. Curriculum

The first year of the project will focus on collecting both quantitative and qualitative information about race in the History Faculty, both in terms of the experience of staff and students, and in terms of how ideas of race and raced experience are taught and studied. Alongside this, we will develop concrete proposals to swiftly address some of the concerns and issues identified, as well as starting to identify and develop longer-term projects. The fundamental objective of the REAG will be to embed sustained anti-racist practices and structures within the Faculty, to make a significant contribution to improving understanding of the histories of raced experience in Britain and globally, and to foster the careers of Black, Asian and minority ethnic students and scholars.

Activities coordinated by the REAG for Hilary Term 2021 include:

  • 26 February (week 6) Histories of Race: three introductory historiographical lectures on will be made available on Canvas (see Panopto folder: General, including skills lectures > Histories of Race)

Race and Medieval History – Dr Mirela Ivanova
Race and Early Modern History – Professor Giuseppe Marcocci
Race and Modern History – Dr Michael Joseph

A Q&A session with all three speakers will be held on Friday 5 March (week 7), 12-1pm via Teams; an email invitation will be circulated to all undergraduates; you can also email reag@history.ox.ac.uk for details.

  • Week 3: Student Surveys on race equality in the History Faculty - all current History Faculty Undergraduate and Postgraduate Students will be invited to respond to an anonymised questionnaire gathering information about matters relating to race equality in the History Faculty.  Students - please check your email for your unique log-in to the survey; the deadline is Friday 12 March (week 8)
  • Monday 8 February (week 4) 15:00-16:00 - Undergraduate Listening Exercise – All current History Faculty Undergraduate students are invited to share their views and experiences in considering how the Faculty can work with students to address racism, to diversify our research, teaching and personnel and to promote equality.  The session will be facilitated by REAG Steering Committee External Advisor Naomi Kellman, founder of Target Oxbridge, and members of the History Faculty and REAG will be present to listen and learn.
  • Thursday 11 February (week 4) 17:00 - Reading Group in collaboration with The Oxford Transnational and Global History Seminar to discuss ‘Race, Teaching and the University: Historians’ Approaches’.
  • Thursday 18 February (week 5) 12:00-13:00 Postgraduate Listening Exercise –  All current History Faculty Postgraduate students are invited to share their views and experiences in considering how the Faculty can work with students to address racism, to diversify our research, teaching and personnel and to promote equality.  The session will be facilitated by REAG Steering Committee External Advisor Dr Sadiah Qureshi, and members of the REAG and History Faculty will be present to listen and learn.

Please see ‘Selected further resources for research and study’ for information about further events of interest to those thinking about the histories of race running in Hilary Term.

In Michaelmas Term 2020, the REAG coordinated a Black History Month Roundtable on ‘Oxford and the Legacies of Slavery and Empire’, offered students the opportunity to join an Uncomfortable Oxford Online Tour on ‘Historical Memory and Empire in Oxford’ and collaborated with The Oxford Transnational and Global History Seminar to discuss. Professor Maria Misra has been appointed as one of the Faculty’s Harassment Officers; she is particularly available to Black and Minority Ethnic students with concerns.


The REAG will draw on and reinforce the important work already undertaken in a number of areas by students and staff, particularly in the wake of the Rhodes Must Fall Campaign since 2016, and in response to the Royal Historical Society’s 2018 report on Race, Ethnicity and Equality in UK History. That work includes initiatives across several areas:

Admissions:

Environment and staff and student experience:

  • A Race Equality Working Group was established in 2016 and has met regularly since to discuss issues around questions of equity and discrimination, and to develop proposals to address concerns arising. The Working Group seeks to integrate student activist organisations keen to address issues of equality among the student body and curriculum into the Faculty’s decision-making processes. In 2018 the REWG met to discuss the Royal Historical Society Report on Race and Ethnicity, and agreed 11 points of action, some of which are underway, some of which it is hoped the REAP will address.
  • The History Faculty is contributing to the work of the University’s Bullying and Harassment Group with a view to developing more effective mechanisms for reporting inappropriate behaviour
  • The Faculty has published a Statement of Values including an expression of our commitment to creating an environment in which everyone – at every academic level from undergraduate to professor, and among professional and support staff, regardless of background and identity –  can fulfil their potential
  • In the Faculty building, a seminar room has been dedicated to Professor Merze Tate, the first African American woman to graduate from Oxford.  In 2018-19, we had the opportunity to learn more about Merze Tate from Harmsworth Visiting Professor, Barbara Savage, who has been working on her social and intellectual milieu.
  • The ‘Oxford and Empire’ project, headed by Erica Charters, funded initially by the Humanities Division through a teaching award, and subsequently directly funded by the History Faculty has led to a series of plaques in the city that commemorate individuals whose lives help to demonstrate the range of scholars who have been part of Oxford
  • The Faculty also supported the development of the Uncomfortable Oxford project, founded by students, which offers tours of the city that raise awareness and create conversations about racial inequality, gender and class discrimination and legacies of empire.

Staff Recruitment and training:

  • The Faculty has identified Black British History as the target for the next available position in Modern History in the Faculty to be appointed in 2020.
  • Incoming academic staff, admissions interviewers and selection panel members are provided with implicit bias training; face to face when possible, online if not.

Curriculum:

  • The History syllabus was substantially reformed in 2017-18. They now have to study at least one period of global history along with British and European history. New options have been introduced, including (second year) ‘The Global Twentieth Century, 1930-2003’ and (first year) ‘Haiti and Louisiana: the problem of Revolution in the Age of Slavery’. There is a Masters degree in Global and Imperial History and global and colonial options make up a good part of the revamped masters courses launched in 2018
  • The Faculty ran Race ‘Teach-In’ events in 2018 and 2019.
  • Research on colonialism in the Faculty is feeding into the school curriculum. Miles Larmer received a Vice Chancellor's Diversity Award in 2018 for providing resources to underpin a new GSCE module on ‘Migration, Empires and Peoples’. 

Supporting research:

Selected Events and Exhibitions: