Image for Research Festival Decolonising Research talk

This event took place on 28 June 2021.

Global research brings many benefits, but also responsibilities to those involved or impacted by research outputs.

  • Who has access to conducting or participating in research? Who is left out?
  • How is research selected or assigned value and funding?
  • What does ‘decolonisation’ mean to you?

‘Decolonisation’ refers to consciously challenging and questioning the viewpoints and assumptions commonly held as a direct or indirect result of colonisation, seeking to unpick and refocus narratives for a more rounded and representative picture and re-balance unequal power structures.

As a provocation, the term ‘decolonisation is capturing imaginations and gathering momentum in the UK, because it exposes bias across geographies and cultures of knowledge production that have gone unchallenged for too long. If postcolonial theory and thought articulated and foregrounded this unevenness, the term ‘decolonisation’ appears as an altruistic call to action and to change.

This interactive workshop opened thought-provoking questions on current research practices with a view to sharing experiences, insight and models of better practice. Participants were encouraged to share their research experiences through short pitches and then to work together to create a series of quick-fire posters to ‘voice’ concerns visually. Experiences and viewpoints from inside and outside the University contributed to the workshop conversation.

The aim was to share experiences of research practices from across the arts, humanities, social sciences, science and engineering, from researchers at any stage of their careers and research journeys, who feel their methods offer equitable and/or original approaches to tackling issues associated with decolonising research.

Who was this event for?
This event was of most interest to those who conduct research in any field, including but not limited to those who carry out research located in or in partnership with countries and organisations outside of the UK.



13:00 | Welcome and introduction by Dr Joanna Griffin and Dr Kathryn Gray

13:15 | Research pitches
Participants have the opportunity to deliver a three-minute pitch of research experiences, followed by break-out room discussions.

14:00 | Keynote speaker: Depth of experience with Dr Jahnavi Phalkey, Founder Director at Science Gallery Bengaluru, providing viewpoints on issues, approaches and questions.

14:45 | Breakout poster-making led by Fingerprint Collective
Collaborative space for participants to develop, articulate and visualise ideas, priorities and actions to take forward for wider distribution

15:45 | Group sharing and discussion

16:00 | Round up and conclusion

Our speakers

Dr Joanna Griffin

Dr Joanna Griffin 

Dr Joanna Griffin is an artist and educator from the UK with a research interest in the experiential dimension of space technologies. She has taught fine art and design in the UK, Ireland, and Canada and in India at Srishti Institute in Bangalore and CEPT University, Ahmedabad. In 2019 she convened the AHRC project Exchange & Flow at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale and in 2017 the symposium Creative Encounters with Science and Technology. She currently serves in research development and equality, diversity and inclusion in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business.

Dr Jahnavi Phalkey

Keynote speaker: Dr Jahnavi Phalkey

Jahnavi was appointed Founding Director of Science Gallery Bengaluru in 2018, the first Asian member of the Global Science Gallery Network, with a remit to engage and inspire visitors at the interface between science and art. Previously Jahnavi was faculty at King’s College London. She started her academic career at the University of Heidelberg, following which she was based at Georgia Tech-Lorraine, and Imperial College London.

Jahnavi is the author of Atomic State: Big Science in Twentieth Century India and has co- edited Science of Giants: China and India in the Twentieth Century.

She is the producer- director of the documentary film Cyclotron. Jahnavi read civics and politics at the University of Bombay and the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. She holds a doctoral degree in history of science and technology from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta.

Harshada Desai

Harshada Desai

Born in India, raised in Egypt, studied in the UK – Harshada is what one would call a Third Culture Kid. From a very young age, she has been a cultural chameleon that is quick to adapt and spot different cultural nuances.

This is exactly, what she does now as a qualitative researcher. She is the founder of theObservatory – an India focused consumer research company. Harshada and her team work with brands to authentically position them in a culture by understanding the beliefs and values of the people they’re engaging with. She strives to identify value for Indian consumers and help brands to add value to the communities they serve.

Asmita Sarkar

Asmita Sarkar

Asmita Sarkar is Faculty member at the Srishti Institute of Art. She is a practicing artist, and her research interests include contemporary drawing and painting, art-science collaboration in art & design, and phenomenological aesthetics. She has published peered reviewed articles in Tracey, Drawing Research Theory and Practice, Visual Inquiry (upcoming), Leonardo (upcoming) amongst other, and currently working on her practice-based PhD (registered in Manipal Academy of Higher Education,) thesis on phenomenology of contemporary painting.

Fingerprint Collective 

Fingerprint Collective

Udit Parekh, Dharun Vyas and Meghana Walimbe

We started in 2016 with a simple intention of doing stuff together. Over time it became clear that ideas have a way of finding design resources. Rooted from Ahmedabad, we have woven a large network of friends in different realms of design, art and creativity with clients in India, UK, Singapore and France. Collectively we are a continuously expanding umbrella of creative and innovative minds. We leave our fingerprints in what we do, but only together, we blossom.

Research Festival 2022 visual ID - web header