Academic Research in Critical Whiteness Studies

Is an international interdisciplinary network of scholars, activists, students and practitioners who share an interest in issues of whiteness in the context of the intersectional power dynamics of global coloniality. It was established in 2009 by Dr Shona Hunter when she was Associate Professor in Social Policy in the Centre for Ethnicity and Racism Studies (CERS)There remains a limited archive of that past network activity which can be explored. In 2018 the network moved its institutional location to the Centre for Race Education and Decoloniality (CRED) at Leeds Beckett University when Shona took up a Readership in the Carnegie School of Education. Please visit the White Spaces Project pages for more information. 


New Territories in Critical Whiteness Studies, UoL 2010.

Back L-R Richard Tavernier, Barbara Samaluk, Noémi Michel; Front L-R Shona Hunter, Maddy Abbas, Say Burgin,

Dieuwertje Dyi Huijg.


White Spaces Network Logo 2009-2019


White Spaces?
Racialising Femininities and Masculinities

The network has grown organically over many years through the efforts and ideas of many people. The ideas were seeded at a small conference stream organised collaboratively as part of the Gender Work and Organization conference at the  Keele University (United Kingdom) in 2007. It was officially established through a launch conference held in Leeds (United Kingdom) in 2009. In its early stages it was supported by three tranches of funds from the Worldwide Universities Network including one tranche from a partnership bid between Dr Shona Hunter and  Dr Catriona Elder at the University of Sydney which supported exchanges and workshops between Leeds and Sydney between 2010-2011. The WhiteSpaces digital masterclasses were established through this partnership running 2010-2013.  


Challenging Systems of
Institutionalised Whiteness

In conceptual terms the network engages with ideas from critical race and whiteness studies to advance multidimensional analysis of processes of gendering and racialisation which form part of the complex and shifting social dynamics in contemporary so called 'multicultural' societies established historically through the violent relations of intersecting global colonialities. In particular network members have been working with this set of ideas to understand how the reassertion of liberal narratives of tolerance serves to redraw the boundaries for national, institutional and organisational inclusion/exclusion in predictable, but also in new and surprising, ways.


New Territories in Critical Whiteness Studies

On a practical level the network engages in a range of international and interdisciplinary research collaboration activities including exchanges, workshops, seminars and teaching between partners. These activities are both virtual and face to face. Face to face events have been held in Australia, England, South Africa, and Sweden. Virtual events including a series of 10 digital Masterclasses have included partners in Australia, England, Germany, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States. There is an established early career/postgraduate arm of the network, originally forged through the efforts of Dr Say Burgin whilst she undertook doctoral research and later worked as a lecturer in the Department of History at the University of Leeds. Say’s work into Social Movement and African American History  including the life of Rosa Parks is ongoing and she is now based at Dickinson in the USA.

Other key members of the organising have invluded Gaia Giuliani Universidade de Coimbra as a visiting researcher with Shona Hunter at Leeds (2011-2012). Amanpreet Aluwhalia and later Naomi Anderson Whittaker contributed as interns with the network.  

The White Spaces Network 1.jpeg

New Territories in Critical Whiteness Studies Conference, UoL 2010. Back L-R Richard Tavernier, Barbara Samaluk, Noémi Michel; Front L-R Shona Hunter, Maddy Abbas, Say Burgin, Dieuwertje Dyi Huijvg. 


Institutional Whiteness in
Postcolonial Times

The network has also included a range of community activists and policy makers working across public, private, and third sector institutions. Indeed, many of the academics involved in the collaboration either have been or still are involved in activities outside of an academic context. Between 2012-2015 this practice engaged work was developed internationally as part of efforts to build global North-South collaboration in partnership with colleagues across 6 South African Universities as part of the British Academy funded bid ‘Challenging Institutional Whiteness in Postcolonial Contexts’ with Co-Investigator Professor Melissa Steyn at Wits Centre for Diversity Studies, one of the originators of Critical Whiteness Studies in South Africa.


 Interdisciplinary North/South Arts collaboration with VIAD

The network has also been involved in working collaboratively across the fields of art and design and especially via Shona’s five year association (first as a research associate and then as Visiting Associate Professor) with the Research Centre for Visual Identities in Arts and Design (VIAD) led by Associate Professor Leora Farber at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa.

Events, exhibitions and collaborations where WhiteSpaces participated include: 

WhiteWash I

By The  Rivers of Birminam - Photography Vanley Burke 

(Re)-Fashioning Masculinities: Identity, Difference, Resistance

The Front Room 'Inna Joburg' -  Micheal Mcmillan 

The Arrivants  - Christine Checinska

Intimate Archives//Autobiographical Acts:

Personal Surfacings as Expressed Through Material Culture

Relational Choreography 1.png

This association with VIAD also brought the opportunity to work with STAND (Scholarship of Teaching in Arts and Design) on decolonizing the curriculum. This included workshops on Building the Anti-Racist University with Brenden Gray and Tuliza Sindi.


Disorienting Race

Disorienting Race brought together publicly engaged interdisciplinary scholars, artists, poets, producers and performers to explore the ways in which intersecting hierarchies of race are disrupted and reinforced through everyday practices such as how we look, talk think and act though our biographies and identities, our institutions, in our common places at the local shop, in the school and in our governing spaces. Taking its starting point as the reality of the global colonial present where the construct of race frames, interactions, ideas and feelings, the event brings together differently positioned voices to think about how these complexly positioned perspectives can come together to intervene in our common life for anti-racist anti-colonial futures. 


Routledge International
Handbook of Critical
Studies in Whiteness 

This handbook offers a unique decolonial take on the field of Critical Whiteness Studies by rehistoricising and re-spatialising the study of bodies and identities in the world system of coloniality.

front cover copy.jpeg

Teaching Critical Whiteness Studies

The network supports the development of teaching in Critical Whiteness Studies globally. Currently at Leeds Beckett research led by Dr Hunter and other research generated by network members underpins the Critical Whiteness Studies module on the MA Race Education and Decoloniality. Dr Hunter has also disseminated empirical research from the network via teaching as part of her visiting positions in Australia, Germany, Switzerland and South Africa.


WhiteSpaces Masterclasses 2022

read more here

(more details will be posted here shortly)