CARICUK: Creative Approaches to Race and In/security in the Caribbean and the UK was a year-long collaboration between artists and geography educators, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). It aimed to transform discussions about race in UK higher education institutions, by redefining race as an in/security.
What is an in/security?
This is based on the model of Caribbean In/securities, which sees security and insecurity as perspectival and relational terms that people negotiate in their everyday lives and through creative means. Understanding race as an in/security in UK education means that education institutions and black communities will negotiate better outcomes between them, with listening and change on both sides. The implication of this is that CARICUK aimed to push institutional race discourse beyond inclusion and deficits, and towards education institutions actively participating in anti-racist learning and institutional transformation.
What did CARICUK do?
Over a twelve-month period, CARICUK moved through three stages: provocations, participation and transformation. Three artistic provocations, designed to stimulate discussion about Caribbean and racialised in/securities, were each followed by public discussion events. An online learning pack for schools, about Caribbean and racialised in/securities, led into a large-scale arts participation and exhibition. Finally, three short films and a publishing experiment pushed towards institutional transformation.
Why the Caribbean and the UK?
The bedrock of the project is that UK higher education can learn from Caribbean In/securities, because the UK’s current racial disparities are an outcome of its historical relationships with the Caribbean, whilst the environmental and climatic in/securities that the region is now facing show the UK, itself a collection of small islands, the in/securities it will have to deal with in the future.
Historically it was in the Caribbean, during the five centuries of European colonial rule and enslavement, that the UK created its own peculiar forms of racialised hierarchy. These broadly informed the racialised hierarchies in Britain’s later colonial practice across Asia and Africa, and have also informed everyday struggles over race relations in the UK for at least the last seventy years, including differential outcomes in higher education (see UK government figures on ethnicity). Moreover, in the 21st century the Caribbean, rich in global resources and connections, is also key to revealing everyday negotiations over many other forms of in/security that the UK will have to negotiate for survival – climate catastrophe, sea level rise, food in/security and the struggle for sustainable livelihoods. Defining race as a shared in/security insists that links between colonial histories, racialised inequalities and global catastrophes should be made strongly and consistently.
Geography is a key discipline through which to engage a range of overlapping publics – academics, educators, black communities, and arts practitioners – in thinking about race as one of a range of shared in/securities. In addition to its expertise around climate science, UK Geography is undertaking a slow and painful process of reflecting on the discipline’s historical and contemporary complicity in the explorations and exploitations that laid the groundwork for the racialised inequalities and global catastrophes that we now face. In particular, decades of calls to transform institutions and to promote anti-racist practice in secondary and higher education teaching and research are building towards an effective shift.
UK Geography is therefore a highly fertile terrain for mounting a year-long programme of creative engagements that drew on existing research on Caribbean in/securities to transform institutional practices around race.