Akwugo Emejulu leads this panel discussion on Black women collectives and grassroots organising featuring Yon Afro Collective founders Layla-Roxanne Hill and Francesca Sobande, Fania Noël from Mwasi Afrofeminist Collective and Rianna Walcott, co-founder of website Project Myopia
The impetus for staging Fugitive Feminism
now responds to current cases of Black women’s struggles for recognition. In a recent introduction of the series at ICA, Emejulu described a particular example, ‘Women of colour activists undertaking creative and innovative work in the UK – occupying prisons, doing refugee survival work, supporting migrants at Yarl’s Wood – are doing work that can’t be recognised as legitimate political activism. They can’t be seen as allies in struggle, they can’t be read as legible.’
Supporting a transnational conversation on grassroots organising by women of colour, this panel presents testaments of organising in Glasgow, Paris and London. Layla-Roxanne Hill and Francesca Sobande discuss their work organising around the misrepresentation of Black women in Glasgow, including their co-founding of the Black-led Yon Afro Collective, Fania Noël presents the work of Mwasi Afrofeminist Collective, a Parisian collective of Black and African women, and London-based organiser Rianna Walcott shares her work on researching Black identity formation in digital spaces and in promoting diversity in academia.
Akwugo Emejulu is Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick. Her research interests include the political sociology of race, class and gender and women of colour's grassroots activism in Europe and the United States. She has co-authored Minority Women and Austerity: Survival and Resistance in France and Britain (2017) and co-edited the forthcoming publication To Exist is to Resist: Black Feminism in Europe. Emejulu’s work has appeared in the journals Ethnic and Racial Studies and Politics & Gender among others. Her new project The Politics of Catastrophe explores women of colour’s organising against austerity and the far right and for migrants’ rights in the UK, the Netherlands and the US.
Layla-Roxanne Hill is a writer, curator and researcher. Hill’s areas of interest focus on the (de)construction of cultural production, marginality and Black Scottish lives. She recently exhibited at Glasgow International 2018. She is Head of Engagement at investigative journalism platform The Ferret
and sits on the National Executive Council of the National Union of Journalists and the Black Workers’ Committee of the Scottish Trade Union Congress. She is a co-founder of the Yon Afro Collective.
Francesca Sobande is a Lecturer in Marketing and Advertising at Edge Hill University, with a background in sociology and politics. Her work addresses issues regarding identity, ideology and intersecting inequalities in relation to digital media and markets. Francesca’s PhD thesis focused on online and media experiences of Black women. She has published work in the European Journal of Cultural Studies
and contributed edited collections such as HBO’s Original Voices: Race, Gender, Sexuality and Power
. She is a co-founder of the Yon Afro Collective.
Fania Noël is a Haitian-born, French activist-organiser. She is an experienced organiser in grassroots movements against racism, specifically anti-Blackness and Black feminism in France. In addition to being part of the Mwasi Afrofeminist Collective, she is the co-creator of the Decolonial Summer Camp, a five-day anti-racism training course in France. In 2014, she founded AssiégéEs (Besieged), a political project led by women, queer and trans people of colour. She is also member of the Afro Liberation Movement and the Pan-African League – Umoja.
Rianna Walcott is a graduate from the University of Edinburgh and a PhD candidate at King’s College London, researching Black identity formation in digital spaces. She co-founded Project Myopia
, a website that promotes diversity in academia and a decolonised curriculum, and frequently writes about feminism, race and literature for publications including gal-dem
, The Skinny
and The Guardian
. She is associate editor of the forthcoming anthology The Colour of Madness
Mwasi Afrofeminist Collective is an organisation founded in 2014 by a group of black and African women who felt the need to unite, exchange and express themselves on black women’s issues. The organisation’s intersectional approach to the struggles it encounters positions it on many battlefields; they agitate against discrimination based on class, gender, sexuality, ability and religion and against the institutionalisation of heteropatriarchal domination.