London College of Communications – decolonisation through Wikipedia

  • November 25, 2020

Written by the London College Communications Teaching Hub for their blog.

Back in April and May we collaborated with London College of Communications students and staff around decolonising Wikipedia, building on work they’ve been doing to decolonise the curriculum. As part of that we are looking at a partnership with a focus on decolonisation, the visibility and credibility of under-represented figures connected to teaching and research across their subject disciplines. On the 25th November the college will launch a new Decolonising Wikipedia Network that aims to support students and staff to become Wikipedia editors and creators.

Decolonisation is not a metaphor or synonym for diversity and inclusion work (read Tuck and Yang, 2012); it is about equity, justice and reparation for people whose lives and life chances have been and continue to be negatively affected by colonisation. Under British colonial rule, entire communities and nations suffered the loss or oppression of traditional knowledge and ways of knowing (aka epistemicide).

To this day, the white western elite dominates global understanding of what and how to know, whilst the ways of knowing of those colonised, their ancestors and diaspora, continues to be oppressed, marginalised, othered and exoticized. And even knowledge production systems that are intended to be democratic and inclusive still maintain practices which can exclude and marginalise, for example through the credibility criteria of academic writing and notability criteria of Wikipedia.

Work to decolonise university curricula and collections has highlighted that it’s not just a matter of including more diverse authors on reading lists, but a matter of diversifying knowledge production itself, to allow for different knowledge and different ways of knowing to be visible and valued. LCC Changemakers are working with Wikimedia Education on this basis, to develop skills and confidence in LCC students and staff to play an active role in decolonising knowledge production and increasing the visibility and credibility of under-represented figures connected to our subject disciplines.

Building on the LCC Wikipedia Editathon in May-June 2020, this new network supports students and staff to edit and create Wikipedia entries through a decolonial lens at a scale and pace that suits them, supporting them to make anything from a small intervention to an existing Wikipedia page in a day, to a writing one new Wikipedia page over a month. The network will be launched here on 25 November with a video introduction and instructions for joining. Watch this space!

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