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'Activism as Leadership: Black feminist politics of resistance, impact and change’

25th of October 2022


Dr Jan Etienne, who has supported our network on previous occasions, spoke eloquently on the topic of leadership for the 1st expert seminar for the Work & Learning Research Centre SIG/CERS, a collaboration with the ‘Explorations in Leadership, Followership and Transformational Change Expert Seminar Series’ for the Specialist Pathways Doctorate for Professional Studies (HSCE/SAT) at Middlesex University.


The well-attended talk discussed the need to actively support decolonisation of the curriculum and the advancement of younger professionals within higher education through an understanding of womanist principles and black feminist epistemology.

As Jan put the question: “How do Black women at the sharp end of activist struggle propel, collaborate, and inspire?”


Please see the slides from this research seminar as a PDF on this page.


The independent Womanism Higher Education Research Network is an international forum for black women in higher education. Please follow the link below if you are interested in more information about the network. Jan invites you to get in touch!


Jan also referenced Chapter 2 ‘Black women academics: Politics of representation and community activism in the African diaspora’ by Patricia Daley from her edited book Communities of Activism: Black Women, Higher Education, and the Politics of Representation (2020) London: UCL Press. We thoroughly recommend this book as a part of your personal or professional university reading list: CLICK HERE 



Dr Jan Etienne is a Fellow in the School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London, where she earned her PhD. She is a Womanist researcher and Chair of the Womanism, Activism, Higher Education Research Network and a graduate of the School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol.  Her major research interest is around Black Feminist Epistemology, and Womanist learning for community activism, exploring women’s involvement in transforming community spaces into thriving matriarchal learning hubs. She is a member of the Decolonising the Academy Collective and Hub Leader for Student Experience.  Jan teaches on the MSc Education, Power, and Social Change programme where she is Module Leader for Education Globalisation and Change.  Her ethnographic research experience includes conducting and managing fieldwork studies for an ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) funded national project into Lifelong Learning and the Women’s Institute. She is the author of ‘Learning in Womanist Ways: Narratives of first-generation African Caribbean women’, (Trentham Books 2016) and editor of ‘Communities of Activism: Black Women, higher education, and the politics of representation’, (UCL Press, 2020).  Her forthcoming book entitled ‘Contemporary Womanist Research Post George Floyd: Compelling Developments in Black Feminist Theory (2023) explores the practical application of Womanist research in communities where racial violence disproportionately impacts black youth.


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