Abstract: Rhodes Must Fall is a movement that calls for the decolonization of higher education. It recognizes that the current education system enshrines indicators of success associated with, or prescribed by whites or whiteness. This is a legacy of European ‘civilizing missions’ that have created a white value system and credibility that exists to this day. Some of these indicators of success include the lack of diversity in student populations, institutional racism and the continued ambition to be white kept alive by curriculums associated with whiteness.
Rhodes Must Fall started on March 9th, 2015 at the University of Cape Town when student leader Chumani Maxwele hurled excrement at an enormous 19th century statue of Cecil Rhodes as a symbolic gesture to call for the fall of white supremacy and white privilege implicit at UCT embodied by the statuesque glorification of Cecil Rhodes. Protests in solidarity with the students of UCT sparked all over the world in places like the University of Oxford, Stellenbosch University, Rhodes University, the University of Pretoria and the University of the Free State etc.
At the University of Oxford, protestors used the statue of Cecil Rhodes at Oriel College as a visible, tangible symbol of the whiteness of the Oxford education system. Protest tactics at Oxford included having university wide debates about the statue, petitions to colleges to increase the number of non-white students and faculty in department and petitions to decolonize the curriculum. Students also made use of the internet, with the Rhodes Must Fall Facebook page and the #RhodesMustFall twitter hashtag being used to organize around the movement. Students at the University of Oxford were attacked in the press for protesting against figures such as Cecil Rhodes despite ‘benefiting’ from the money he and other colonizers had invested in Oxford and in scholarships such as the Rhodes Scholarship
Research Questions: What were the tactics used by the Rhodes Must Fall activists at the University of Oxford?How did the protestors at Oxford navigate the accusations that they had lost the right to protest having accepted their offers to study at the University of Oxford that had benefited greatly from Cecil Rhodes and other colonialists pillaging? How were the tactics used by activists at Oxford similar/different from protests used by Rhodes must Fall protesters at other universities?
Case selection: This project shall focus on the Rhodes Must Fall protests at the University of Oxford.
Methods: A detailed analysis of the Rhodes Must Fall Facebook page, and Twitter account shall be conducted to understand how the movement at Oxford was organized. Newspaper articles shall be studied to see how the protests were presented in mass media. Interviews with protestors shall also be conducted
Detailed work plan:
3/23: Project Proposal
3/30: Conduct interviews with student leaders of the RhodesMustFall movement
4/8: Parse through twitter and facebook pages and form a timeline of protests
4/13: Parse how the movement was presented in the mass media by examining
4/27: First draft
5/4: Complete any additional analysis
5/18: Final Presentation
5/28: Final paper due
Preliminary annotated bibliography:
#RhodesMustFall Nibbling at Resilient Colonialism in South Africa by Francis Nyamnjoh