CentreSECP are excited to announce two incredible speakers, Zeinab Badawi and William Beinart, will be joining us to discuss the debates about the Rhodes statue at Oriel College, University of Oxford that were brought to wide public attention through the Rhodes Must Fall campaign.


2-4pm Friday 12 November 2021 (online)
Centre for Spatial, Environmental and Cultural Politics
University of Brighton

Debates about the Rhodes statue at Oriel College, University of Oxford: historical evidence, commission report, and the College’s response.

Zeinab Badawi and William Beinart

The statue of Cecil Rhodes (1853-1902) was erected in 1911 on a new Oriel College building for which Rhodes donated money in his will.  Following the Rhodes Must Fall protests in Oxford in 2015-6, the College governing body decided to keep the statue in place; pressure from alumni was one important factor.  However, they changed their minds in July 2020, after the mass protests in Oxford associated with RMF and global Black Lives Matter movement that followed the murder of George Floyd. The College then publicly indicated an intention to move the statue and appointed a commission to advise on the arguments and processes involved.  Both speakers served on the commission.  However, despite majority support in the commission for this 2020 decision to move the statue, the College governing body changed its mind again in May 2021. The College has decided that it will be too expensive to start the process of applying for planning permission. The Rhodes Building (now called the High Street Building) is a grade 2* listed building which requires a complex process and government consent for any changes.  The government has indicated that it will not accede to such planning requests and prefers instead to ‘retain and explain’.  The College has decided that it should do the latter, with contextualisation both on the web and on site (now in place). This seminar addresses three issues relating to the Rhodes legacy at Oxford.  William Beinart will discuss briefly the historical evidence and arguments for moving the statue, as well as the College’s recent decision. Zeinab Badawi will discuss her experience of the commission and her views on the debate about the statue as well as initiatives to promote diversity and African Studies.

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Zeinab Badawi was born in the Sudan. she moved to London with her family when she was two years old. Zeinab has a BA Hons in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University and a post-graduate degree in history (awarded with a distinction) from SOAS, London University.  Zeinab has worked extensively in the British media for four decades and is now best known for her work in the BBC’s international division at BBC World News TV and BBC World Service Radio on programmes such as ‘Hard Talk’, and ‘Global Questions’ as well as films about opera and a major 20-part TV series on the history of Africa which she produced and presented through her own production company for BBC World News. Zeinab is President of SOAS London University, a member of the International Advisory Boards of think-tanks Afro-Barometer and MINDS – the Mandela Institute for Development Studies, a member of the high-level panel of the Africa Europe Foundation, a board member of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, and she serves on several other Councils and Foundations. She was a member of the Rhodes Commission (2021) on the future of the statue of Cecil Rhodes at Oriel College, Oxford. Zeinab has been Chair of the Royal African Society and the freedom of speech advocacy organisation Article 19.  Zeinab has received many media awards as well as honorary doctorates from SOAS, London University and the University of the Arts London, and other awards such as the President’s Medal of the British Academy for her services to broadcasting and education and the UN Association-UK Sir Brian Urquhart award for distinguished service to broadcasting, education and the UN.

William Beinart is emeritus professor at St Antony’s College and the African Studies Centre, University of Oxford.  He was Director of the African Studies Centre at Oxford, President of the ASAUK and is a fellow of the British Academy. Publications include Twentieth-Century South Africa (2001), The Rise of Conservation in South Africa (2003), Environment and Empire (2007, with Lotte Hughes); Prickly Pear (2011 with Luvuyo Wotshela); African Local Knowledge (2013 with Karen Brown); and The Scientific Imagination in South Africa, 1700 to the Present (2021 with Saul Dubow).

Chair: Nichola Khan (Centre Director); Discussant: Heba Youssef (Senior Lecturer, Politics)



A video of this event is available here: https://blogs.brighton.ac.uk/secp/2021/11/19/update-video-debates-on-rhodes-with-zeinab-badawi-and-william-beinart/

William Beinart’s historical appendix to the commission report that is referenced above is available to read here