CFP: Decolonise STEM: Resisting, Unlearning and Imagining, University College London, Oct. 5, 2019 (deadline: Aug. 17, 2019)

Keynote Speakers: Dr Arianne Shahvisi and Dr Christine (Xine) Yao

We are pleased to announce the symposium – Decolonise STEM: Resisting, Unlearning and Imagining – taking place on Saturday October 5th 2019 at University College London, supported in part by the Department of Science and Technology Studies and the Wellcome Trust. We are welcoming applications for panellists to take part in what we hope will be an important and empowering day. Please continue reading for details about the organising collective, the aims of the symposium and panels, as well as how to apply. Alternatively, you can follow the link here to read a longer version of this on our website: Please do feel free to circulate this call to anyone/any groups that you think might be interested in applying to the symposium. 

The collective

The creation of a collective to decolonise STEM (the material and theoretical outputs of what is broadly conceived as science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as the institutions that support them) is born with a sense of urgency and recognition that we must act if we are to survive the pervasive politics of the moment. This collective recognises how these politics – of empire and white supremacy – are deeply embedded and upheld by our hegemonic understanding of science, institutional practice, and emerging technologies. The intellectual and political wellspring of science and technology studies (STS), which provides some tools to unpack the relationship of science, technology and politics, is activism. It is our belief that this ethos has to be reclaimed and enacted in concrete, shared decolonising practice.

The symposium

The symposium is first and foremost an act of activism, and of academic humility. We hope to provide a space to interrogate accepted ‘truths’ about STEM and to make room for and learn from overlooked lived experiences, which may highlight how colonial power is embedded in, emboldened and reproduced by STEM and help to empower or create new and alternative knowledges/spaces and practices to move beyond the dominant system. We hope this symposium forms the roots to  support an ongoing and much bigger, longer-term movement to decolonise STEM. For more details, please visit our website: 

Call for panellists

We are accepting applications (of no more than 300 words) to take part in one of the two panels below. Panellists will be asked to give 5 to 10-minute responses to the topic of the panel, which will then open up into a chaired discussion.

Panel 1:Experiences in STEM: Strategies of Survival

This panel will centre on the lived experiences – past and present – of those working within or engaging with STEM institutions, exploring strategies of survival within the coloniality of STEM. Panellists may wish to draw upon and to share personal narratives of navigation, resistance and survival within STEM.Panellists may want to consider basing their responses on any of these deliberately open-ended topics:

  • Thoughts, feelings and lived experiences within STEM: e.g. Laboratory life, academic departments, exclusion from these spaces etc.
  • Navigating institutions: How do they operate? What opportunities and challenges do they present? Can we change them? (Or do we need something different?)
  • Encounters, struggles and/or successes: How can we resist? Are there stories of resistance? (Is leaving/staying an option?)
  • Personal choices and collective struggles (What are allies? Do they (really) exist?)

Panel 2: Decolonising STEM

This panel will provide the opportunity for academics to present responses to the topic of decolonising STEM. Whilst we don’t wish to narrow the scope of possible discussion in advance, potential topics for consideration might include but are not limited to:

  • How is the history of STEM colonial?
  • What does it mean to ‘decolonise’? Can we decolonise STEM?
  • What does the coloniality of STEM look like in contemporary contexts?
  • How is colonial power maintained through STEM?
  • How does this sustain or materialise systems of oppression based on race, gender, nationality, indigeneity, disability, sexuality?


We are looking for imaginative and open responses – not formal abstracts! – and are interested in hearing what applicants can contribute to each panel. We therefore welcome applications from a range of backgrounds, and in particular, we encourage submissions from early career researchers/academics (affiliated and unaffiliated), activists, from inside and outside of STEM and related fields, who are currently engaging in the ‘decolonising’ work. 

To submit your proposal for one of the panels, please click on the following link: submissions are due by midnight on 17th August 2019. Feel free to get in touch with us at: with any queries, questions or concerns. 

A decision on all proposals will be made by 1st September 2019. Authors of accepted proposals will also be eligible for funding to cover travel expenses.

See more on our website: 

Follow the conference on Twitter for updates:

Decolonise STEM (@DecoloniseSTEM) | Twittertwitter.comThe latest Tweets from Decolonise STEM (@DecoloniseSTEM). Community of academic activists. Exploring coloniality, privilege, and power in and around science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)

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