We are working to diversify and decolonise our Library collections to ensure a wide range of voices, perspectives, and issues are available to our users. You can download and read our full University Library statement on decolonising collections and catalogues (PDF). For support in decolonising reading lists visit our SkillsGuide Decolonise, democratise and diversify reading lists.
This webpage provides an introduction to what diversification and decolonisation is, a summary of the Library’s activity in this area, guidance on how you can help, and a listing of recent items added to the Library’s collections that showcase different voices.
What is diversification, and decolonisation?
Historically, white, male, middle- and upper-class voices of the Global North have been privileged in publishing and, therefore, in library collections. Today, while marginalised voices are starting to be more widely heard, the Global North remains over-represented in publishing.
Diversification focusses on ensuring many voices and perspectives are heard. This means purchasing materials created by, and about, marginalised people. That marginalisation may arise from society’s perspectives on, for example, race, ethnicity, physical ability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic class. We recognise that many people are negatively affected by the intersectionality of two or more of those societal perspectives.
There is no one simple definition of decolonisation. Here are three:
Decolonising universities is not about completely eliminating white men from the curriculum. It's about challenging longstanding biases and omissions that limit how we understand politics and society...to interrogate its assumptions and broaden our intellectual vision to include a wider range of perspectives. While decolonising the curriculum can mean different things, it includes a fundamental reconsideration of who is teaching, what the subject matter is and how it's being taught (Guardian, 2019).
What do I mean by decolonise? It is not a question of retrieving knowledge of non-Eurocentric origin and of viewing them as relics of the past. It is rather a question of trying to see that other knowledge developed in other space and time contexts may be important for understanding our time, not only in the countries and regions where they originate, but also in other contexts, such as the European one (de Sousa, 2017).
First, it is a way of thinking about the world which takes colonialism, empire and racism as its empirical and discursive objects of study; it re-situates these phenomena as key shaping forces of the contemporary world, in a context where their role has been systematically effaced from view. Second, it purports to offer alternative ways of thinking about the world and alternative forms of political praxis (Bhambra, Gebrial & Nişancıoğlu, 2018).
Diversification and decolonisation of the Library’s collections
We intend to make our collections more diverse, and are in the process of creating a three-year workplan which we will publish when it is finalized.
It is our intention to diversify the collections by providing access to:
- Resources created by people from a diverse range of nationalities, and backgrounds
- Resources written about equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI)
- Resources that focus on EDI in relation to particular disciplines or subject areas, e.g. health, history, business, law, biology
This will take time, and we welcome your help in making our collections more inclusive, and representative of the University’s diverse communities. You can access some titles covering aspects of equality, diversity, and inclusion by searching our eBook collection at Ebook central.
Hull University Archives is also working to uncover diversity in archives, and has created a guide to diversity in archives which will be further developed.
How you can help
If you are a student, send your suggestions to us via the suggest a purchase form. We welcome ideas for reading lists, the leisure-reading collection, and the wider library collections.
When you complete the form, simply tick the box to show if your suggestion is to help diversify and decolonise the collections.
If you are a member of staff, either add the resource to your reading list or submit a request via the research book order form.
Items bought to diversify library collections