Legacy in Action Fellows Programme
The Legacy in Action Research Fellowship is a pilot programme based in the Stephen Lawrence Research Centre at DMU.
The fellowship aims to support talented early career researchers in becoming future leaders in the study of race and racism within the UK higher education sector and beyond. This programme reflects DMU’s ongoing commitment to putting the legacy of Stephen Lawrence into action by developing the careers of academics who are pursuing ground-breaking work that speaks to the research agendas of the SLRC.
An exceptional career path
The Fellows will embark upon a five-year enhanced postdoctoral research fellowship designed to facilitate and accelerate their career progression from Early Career Researcher to consideration for Associate Professor-Research by the end of the fellowship period. This distinctive post-doctoral research and teaching programme is rooted in the development of cutting-edge research agendas that speak to some of the urgent and critical issues of our time. Each fellow will be supported to make significant scholarly contributions in ways that support the SLRC’s mission to honour the legacy of Stephen Lawrence and his family’s continued fight for justice.
A sector leading programme
Many UK universities have not traditionally offered significant institutional support to early career academics whose research focuses explicitly on race, racism and social justice. The establishment of this programme at DMU is thus a leading initiative that we hope will set a benchmark model to be replicated and delivered elsewhere across the sector.
Programmes like Legacy in Action are needed to urgently address the racialised disparities that exist within HE institutions and across many disciplines. This issue has been highlighted in recent studies, including Race and Racism in British Sociology (2020) co-authored by one of our Fellows, Dr Karis Campion that points to the continuing underrepresentation of BME staff in the discipline of sociology. It follows earlier research reflected in the Race, Ethnicity and Equality Report issued by the Royal Historical Society (2018) that draws attention to the underrepresentation of ‘Black and Minority Ethnic’ (BME) students and staff in university History programmes and the racial and ethnic inequalities in the teaching and practice of History in the UK.
While the student demographics of many UK universities are increasingly diverse, higher education institutions and their staff still remain overwhelmingly white. This programme appears at a time where research on race, racism and social justice continues to be urgent and necessary to spur action and change. Ultimately, this is part of the mission of the SLRC—to develop and support talented scholars to produce impact-oriented research that engages people with different perspectives in ways that can facilitate positive change that is enduring.
Legacy in Action Fellows
Dr Karis Campion
Karis’s current research focuses on barbershops and examines their function as key social institutions for Black communities in Britain.
She says: “If we can open a window to these intergenerational spaces where people can relax and be themselves, talk about politics, have debates about the state of society, discuss health concerns, all free from an oppressive gaze, there is so much to learn about the complexities of black identities and how community knowledge and history is maintained, cultivated and passed on.”
Prior to becoming a Legacy in Action Research Fellow, Karis was a Research Associate at the Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity at the University of Manchester and held a lectureship at City, University of London.
Karis obtained her PhD in Sociology from the University of Manchester in 2017. Prior to that she completed an MSc in Social Research Methods and Statistics at Manchester.
She is currently writing a book entitled Making Mixed Race: A Study of Time, Place and Identity. Her research interests span areas of (mixed) race/ethnic identity, geographies of race in urban space, intersectional inequalities, Black feminism, youth identities, anti-racism and institutional racism in education.
Dr Fatima Rajina
Dr Rajina’s research is focussed on the relations between Bangladeshi and Somalian communities in Tower Hamlets in the East End of London.
She will be looking at how the Bangladeshi community constructs notions of blackness and how this construction unravels vis-a-vis the Somali community.
Dr Rajina says: “I am fascinated by the East End of London and I want to see what the interactions are between communities as they have moved around the world.”
After completing an MA in Islamic Societies and Cultures, Dr Rajina went on to do a PhD at SOAS, University of London. She has also worked as a Research Assistant at the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge, looking at police and counter-terrorism. Dr Rajina was also a Teaching Fellow at SOAS, Research Fellow at UCL and worked as a Lecturer in Sociology at Kingston University.
Dr Rajina has a passion for languages and is fluent in German, Spanish and Bengali and can read and write in classical Arabic.
Dr Yusef Bakkali
Yusef grew up in Brixton, South London, and from an early age became aware of injustice and inequality operating in society.
His key research focuses around the lives of young people involved in ‘Road Life’ - a contemporary street culture of which elements have recently been the subject of popular media representations in shows like Top Boy (Channel 4/Netflix) and films like Blue Story (BBC Films/Paramount Pictures).
Yusef says: “It is important to me to be working with people who have a lot of faith in what we are trying to do. We have to respect the legacy of the Lawrence family and our research has to have an activist dimension to it. Activism is about taking a stance. We do not necessarily want to be part of the current research canon. Our research needs to challenge and it needs to take risks.”
Yusef’s areas of expertise are youth, social exclusion, race, crime, music, youth cultures, road life, austerity, decoloniality and masculinities. He holds a PhD in Sociology, an MSc in Social Research Methods and a BA in Politics and Society.
Meet the rest of the Stephen Lawrence Research Centre team.