In Our Own Voices: Learning and Teaching Toward Decolonisation

In Our Own Voices is a refreshing and engagingly critical look at academia from the students, teachers and activists that inhabit the margins. The essays, stories and poems are predominantly written by female students and activists of colour from the University of Victoria. They write of their experiences in academia, in disciplines like women’s studies, sociology, and social work that espouse a progressive attitude but continue to perpetuate white Euro-centric ideologies by silencing, fetishizing or tokenizing the visible minority students in the class. Essays ask why there are no works by people of colour discussed in a Can Lit class, why disabilities are only discussed for one week (the last week) in a Social Work program, why First Nation students are continually ignored or singled out in classes discussing colonisation. Some particularly great essays are “An Uppity Memoir and Some Cheeky Tips” by Michelle La Flamme, on surviving as a First Nations student in academia. Another noteworthy essay by Lisa Okada on feeling silenced and different as a woman of colour even in classes that acknowledged and discussed racism. I’m delighted that such a fierce, funny and bang-on anthology has come out of my alma mater. I remember sitting and seething in the same classes described so well in this book. It’s time the students from the margins had their say, because there is much to criticize about our academic institutions, particularly within the “progressive disciplines” where we expect so much and can be so disappointed. (Krisztina Kun)

edited by Proma Tagore, $19.95, 135 pgs, Larkuma Press, larkuma2003@yahoo.com

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