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Art sculpture made of braided shredded paper, hanging in an ornate room with wooden floors and oil painting portraits


Creative Approaches to Race and In/Security in the Caribbean and UK

Research by Professor Pat Noxolo, Dr Tia-Monique Uzor, and Dr Rita Gayle

CARICUK: Creative Approaches to Race and In/security in the Caribbean and the UK was a year-long collaboration between artists and geography educators, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), which ran from 2021-22. It aimed to transform discussions about race in UK higher education institutions, by redefining race as an in/security. The project was led by Professor Pat Noxolo, alongside Dr Tia-Monique Uzor and Dr Rita Gayle.

Over a twelve-month period, CARICUK moved through three stages: provocations, participation and transformation. Three artistic provocations, designed to stimulate discussion about Caribbean and racialised in/securities, were each followed by public discussion events. An online learning pack for schools, about Caribbean and racialised in/securities, led into a large-scale arts participation and exhibition. Finally, three short films and a publishing experiment pushed towards institutional transformation.


Dreading the Map

CARICUK’s third provocation set the keynote for the concept of race as in/security, and is an original art installation by Sonia Barrett, called Dreading the Map, which was installed in the Map Room of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) building during March 2021. Using carefully curated paper maps of the Caribbean and UK that have been shredded into strips, the artist and several black women co-creators used African-Caribbean hair styling techniques to plait the shredded maps. Culturally, such female spaces of hair styling are filled with discussions around self- and community-care, and this black woman-centred cultural practice juxtaposed the wood-lined walls, globes and portraits of white explorers that typify the building with the music and laughter of black women talking and working together. As a response to the RGS-IBG’s stated desire to reflect on their history and their building, this was a filling of the space with black women’s language, perspectives and practices, a reimagining of what the space can and should mean.

This dramatic and large-scale installation was photographed by Damion Griffiths and Oliver Barrett. It was created by artist Sonia E Barrett, with Map-lective members, Dr Pat Noxolo, Dr Tia Monique Uzor, Obafeyikemi Luther, TheArtistEvie, Lea Bematol, Bea Tizzy, with contributions by the staff of the RGS-IBG: Dr Catherine Souch, and Dr Sarah Evans. CARICUK’s related provocation event was livestreamed from the Society’s Ondaatje Theatre. The recording is available from the CARICUK youtube channel.

In addition, Gennaro Ambrosino’s beautiful film features interviews and footage of the sculpture.  

Watch the Dreading the Map film