"Challenging global systems of power, domination and oppression through
the local practice of relationship"
WhiteSpaces is a multidisciplinary globally connected initiative which aims to reframe understandings around supremacy, power, category, system, institutionalisation, oppression and domination so that these relations can be seen and exposed as real features of daily life. That is as constitutive of all of our lived realities, and everyday relationships in our institutional spaces whether these spaces are formal organisations or places of informal gathering or of collective public practices; and as constitutive of lived realities in the places we call home, in our family and friendship intimacies and the places we feel belonging as well as the places that we feel we don’t.
WhiteSpaces creates opportunities to challenge received narratives about power and oppression. It does this through a range of activity which includes audio, digital and live events, writings and information curating.
Through the creation of these opportunities WhiteSpaces enacts an evolving meeting point, a shifting, multiply relationally articulated contact zone.
WhiteSpaces is challenging because it seeks to name and to rethink mainstream understandings and dominant narratives around power and inequality.
WhiteSpaces makes connections between people, ideas, organisations and activities which rarely meet.
WhiteSpaces believes in the capacity of relational practice to hold together the contradictions, the discomforts and the personal and intellectual challenges of working with and through differences in power.
WhiteSpaces roots its practice in its relational, non-binary ethos. This means that it is committed to working through the fullest recognition possible of our multiple locatedness temporally, geographically, physically intellectually and emotionally.
This commitment to relational location means a commitment to understanding human relationship and human interdependence as fundamental to action in the world; and as coming to be through the context of power drenched generational time and geopolitically ordered space which frames our contested and unequal location in culture and everyday relationships in the contact zone.
This commitment to the principle of relational locatedness is why WhiteSpaces names whiteness as the fundamental relation of power and inequality in the global colonial English present in which the initiative was originally conceived.
This relationally located ethos translates into a set of principles as starting points for WhiteSpaces activities and offerings.
These are the fractured foundations of its relational practice.
These principles are: Relationship; Difference; Situatedness; Partiality; Multiplicity; Connectedness; Dynamism.
WhiteSpaces is the broader common intellectual offering which has its origins in the White Spaces Research Network
That network was established by Shona Hunter in 2009 in order to provide a space for the sub disciplinary development of the academic field of Critical Whiteness Studies in the UK, and internationally. The network responded to the need for collaboration and ideas sharing across research, teaching and postgraduate work into whiteness and white identities in the context of global coloniality which was inclusive of scholars located intellectually, or institutionally outside of the areas of sociology, cultural studies and critical race studies. This included academic fields like social policy, social work, management and organisation studies. In its 13th year that network continues to provide an important hub for the latest development of Critical Studies into Whiteness.
WhiteSpaces works with a range of thinking rooted in psychosocial ideas about affect, culture and the material world of institutions, everyday experience and practice. This draws inspiration from a wide interdisciplinary range of Black, decolonial feminist and queer writing, research and activism.
Its particular way of understanding and working through relationality is articulated and developed in Shona Hunter’s writing, teaching and practice.
For WhiteSpaces writing is a relational activity. It is a way of being in conversation and community with others who are temporally, geographically and imaginatively elsewhere. As such it is a way of generating difference and change through relationship. This means that publishing as a way of sharing writing is also a complex enactment of power and vulnerability which can reproduce as well as resist and reconfigure inclusions and exclusions.
WhiteSpaces engages in various different forms of publishing, open access and commons as well as via traditional academic and mainstream publishing models as a way of redistributing relations of power and vulnerability differently.
Following our ethos WhiteSpaces events are carefully curated as public meeting points to consider global colonial power.
They are generally mixed format including discussion, film showing, readings, performance and Q & A.
They take seriously WhiteSpaces locatedness in Leeds/Bradford West Yorkshire and use that as a vantage point from which to intervene in national and global debates on global colonial power.
See for example WhiteSpaces 10 year anniversary event: Disorienting Race: Relationally Choreographing Resistance