Sara Ahmed’s Complaint! has inspired three responses that together offer an embodied review of the book, from a collective based at the University of East London (UEL).
UEL is a ‘post-1992’ institution where black and brown people comprise over 70% of the student population and are often first or second generation from ex-British colonies. In contrast, the majority of faculty are white, albeit also often immigrants and from a working-class background. Within this context of racial imbalance, the institution is ostensibly committed to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, with a particular emphasis on anti-racism following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020.
Our own collaboration and friendship erupted out of the School of Psychology during this time, when we came together to facilitate ‘White Anti-Racist Collectives’ – open to all Psychology staff and students for reflecting on and disrupting both their own and institutional whiteness. For the past 18 months we have met regularly to learn, strategise, cry, laugh, care and continue. This has included reading, discussing and feeling Complaint!, and coming to understand and appreciate ourselves as what Sara Ahmed calls a ‘complaint collective’. While written as three individual responses, there are more of us between the lines; our posts have emerged out of our embodied experiences of doing this work together.
Kellie Coretta Golbourne, Dona Henriques and Rachel Jane Liebert