Interview with Shirley Tate

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Caribbean/Latin America, Interviews, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2017-04-30 01:42Z by Steven

Interview with Shirley Tate

Times Higher Education

John Elmes, Reporter

Source: Kiran Mehta

We discuss realising what it means to be black in the UK, dealing with insomnia, and institutional racism in the academy, with the renowned race and black identity scholar

Shirley Tate is a cultural sociologist and researcher in the areas of institutional racism and black identity. Previously an associate professor in race and culture at the University of Leeds, she took up a new role as professor of race and education – the first of its kind in the UK – at Leeds Beckett University in April.

Where and when were you born?
In Spanish Town, Saint Catherine, Jamaica, in March 1956.

How has this shaped you?
I was brought up in Sligoville, which was the first free village in Jamaica set up after the enslaved population were granted full freedom in 1838. Being a black African-descent Jamaican is still pivotal to me in terms of how I identify as a person. I was very fortunate to be brought up there at a time of independence, Black Power, a resurgence of Rastafarianism and, with it, Garveyism. It was during this time that my cousin gave me a copy of Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks. I always look back at this as a really important moment in my coming to awareness as black and Caribbean because it helped me to understand how colonialism continued to work in the Western hemisphere for black people, people of colour and white people. Jamaica became independent from the British Empire in 1962, so I was British for five and a half years, then became Jamaican and then became a naturalised British citizen in the 1980s. I left Jamaica in 1975 for the UK, which was a very difficult transition. For the first time, I really realised what it meant to be a black person in a white country. I was really taken aback the first time that I was asked, by a seven-year-old mixed-race girl, whether I was “half or full”, meaning was I mixed race or not. For her, that was an important way to judge whether she had a connection with me. I was also asked by my boss, in the first job I had in the UK, where I had learned to speak and write such good English and was “complimented” by being told that I didn’t sound at all Jamaican. I cling to my Jamaican accent with a vengeance, so I didn’t feel the compliment…

Read the entire interview here.

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First Professor of Race and Education appointed at Leeds Beckett

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2017-03-17 01:30Z by Steven

First Professor of Race and Education appointed at Leeds Beckett

Leeds Beckett University
Leeds, United Kingdom

Carrie Braithwaite, Press Officer

Leeds Beckett University has appointed the UK’s first Professor of Race and Education, Shirley Anne Tate.

Professor Tate is a world-leading researcher in the areas of institutional racism and black identity. She will join Leeds Beckett’s Carnegie School of Education on Monday 3 April from the University of Leeds, where she is currently Associate Professor, giving a boost to Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) data, which shows that there were only 25 Black female Professors in the UK in the academic year 2015/16.

Professor Tate has written widely on topics including the body, ‘mixed race’, beauty, and the cultures of skin. The focus of her research is Black diaspora politics and she will begin a new international research project this summer, looking into what needs to be done to tackle racialisation across the UK, Sweden, South Africa and Brazil and how National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) play a vital role in national approaches to countering racism…

Read the entire article here.

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Posted in Live Events, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2016-04-20 23:55Z by Steven


London South Bank University
K2-VG10 Keyworth Street
London, SE1 6NG, United Kingdom
Thursday, 2016-04-21 17:30 BST (Local Time)

Join us for this Black History Event organised by EquiNet, a network for Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) staff at LSBU. This event is supported by the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Unit.

This event brings together three speakers who will explore the social impact of gradations in skin tone. Skin colour is a potent signifier of both racial difference and sameness with the desire to have lighter skin evidenced by the increasing use of bleaching products across the globe. Shade∙ism or colourism is experienced intra-racially and is described as discrimination based on (darker) skin tone. The speakers take up the complexity of colourism by exploring skin bleaching and its relationship to shade∙ism. Can the colour complex be dealt with effectively or is it an age-old problem that won’t go away?


Skin Bleaching: is colourism to blame?
Shirley Tate, Associate Professor in Race and Culture, Leeds University

Shade∙ism: the age old issue that won’t go away
Yvonne Robinson, Senior Research Fellow, Weeks Centre, LSBU

The Colour Complex
Kavyta Raghunandan, Commonwealth Institute

Followed by a reception on the Mezzanine, Keyworth Centre

For more information, click here.

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Caribbean Racisms: Connections and Complexities in the Racialization of the Caribbean Region

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science on 2015-10-25 22:40Z by Steven

Caribbean Racisms: Connections and Complexities in the Racialization of the Caribbean Region

Palgrave Macmillan
May 2015
216 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9781137287274
Ebook (EPUB) ISBN: 9781137287298
Ebook (PDF) ISBN: 9781137287281

Shirley Anne Tate, Professor of Sociology
Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, United Kingdom

Ian Law, Professor of Racism and Ethnicity Studies
School of Sociology and Social Policy
University of Leeds, United Kingdom

This book identifies and engages with an analysis of racism in the Caribbean region, providing an empirically-based theoretical re-framing of both the racialisation of the globe and evaluation of the prospects for anti-racism and the post-racial.

The thirty contemporary territories of the Caribbean and their differing colonial and post-colonial contexts provide a highly dynamic setting urging a re-assessment of the ways in which contemporary processes of racialisation are working. This book seeks to develop a new account of racialisation in this region, challenging established arguments, propositions and narratives of racial Caribbeanisation.

With new insights into contemporary forms of racialisation in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti, this will be essential reading for scholars of Race and Ethnicity.


  • Acknowledgements
  • About the Authors
  • 1 Racial Caribbeanization: Origins and Development
  • 2 Racial States in the Post-Emancipation Caribbean
  • 3 Mixing, Métissage and Mestizaje
  • 4 Whiteness and the Contemporary Caribbean
  • 5 The ‘Post-Race Contemporary’ and the Caribbean
  • 6 Polyracial Neoliberalism
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index 
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Foucault, Bakhtin, Ethnomethodology: Accounting for Hybridity in Talk-in-Interaction

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Philosophy, Social Science, United Kingdom, Women on 2012-01-02 02:31Z by Steven

Foucault, Bakhtin, Ethnomethodology: Accounting for Hybridity in Talk-in-Interaction

Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research
Volume 8, Number 2, Article 10
May 2007
18 pages

Shirley Anne Tate, Senior Lecturer and Director of Studies
Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies
University of Leeds

Theorising hybridity within Postcolonial Studies is often done at a level which seems to exclude the everyday with the exception of its relevance for the cultural productions of migrants and dominant culture’s “eating the other”. This article uses the exploration of hybridity as an everyday interactional achievement within Black “mixed race” British women’s conversations on identity to look at the production of an analytic method as process based on the task of the analyst as translator. This method as process thinks the links between FOUCAULT and BAKHTIN in the emergence of an ethnomethodologically inclined discourse analysis (eda) which is called on to make sense of a hybridity of the everyday where Black women reflexively translate discourses on identity positions in order to construct their own identifications in conversations. FOUCAULT’s discourses and BAKHTIN’s heteroglossia and addressivity allow us to theorise this movement in the talk which ethnomethodological transcription and theory enables us to first pinpoint occurring. The article begins by looking at first, how hybridity as identification emerges in talk-in-interaction through both speaker and analyst translations. Having established this, it then goes on to look at the theoretical convergences and divergences between FOUCAULT and BAKHTIN on the subject, identity and discourses in the eda enterprise. Looking at data through the lens of eda means that we must be aware of the subject positions which speakers identify as having the effect of constraining or facilitating particular actions and experiences and there is always the possibility for challenge to subjectification.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Method as Process—Talk, Hybridity, Translation
  • 3. Blurring the Line Between Theory and Story
  • 4. Discourses, Translation as Reflexivity and Dialogism in Talk on Identification
  • 5. FOUCAULT and BAKHTIN—”Race”, Discourses and Dialogics
  • 6. FOUCAULT and BAKHTIN: Ethnomethodology, Discourse Analysis and the Membership Category “Black Woman”
  • 7. Conclusion
  • Acknowledgements
  • References
  • Author
  • Citation

Read the entire article here or here.

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Black Beauty: Aesthetics, Stylization, Politics

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science, United Kingdom, Women on 2010-05-07 19:59Z by Steven

Black Beauty: Aesthetics, Stylization, Politics

March 2009
188 pages
234 x 156 mm
188 pages
Hardback ISBN: 978-0-7546-7145-9
eBook ISBN: ISBN 978-0-7546-9140-2

Shirley Anne Tate, Professor of Sociology
Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, United Kingdom

Previous work discussing Black beauty has tended to concentrate on Black women’s search for white beauty as a consequence of racialization. Without denying either the continuation of such aesthetics or their enduring power, this book uncovers the cracks in this hegemonic Black beauty.

Drawing on detailed ethnographic research amongst British women of Caribbean heritage, this volume pursues a broad discussion of beauty within the Black diaspora contexts of the Caribbean, the UK, the United States and Latin America through different historical periods to the present day. With a unique exploration of beauty, race and identity politics, the author reveals how Black women themselves speak about, negotiate, inhabit, work on and perform Black beauty. As such, it will appeal not only to sociologists, but anyone working in the fields of race, ethnicity and post-colonial thought, feminism and the sociology of the body.

Table of Contents

‘Beauty comes from within’: or does it?
Anti-racist aesthetics in the 21st century: the matter of hair
‘Race’, beauty and melancholia: shade
The shame of beauty is its transformative potential
The ‘browning’, straighteners, and fake tan
Hybrid black beauty?
Conclusion: is it all stylization and is there a need for black beauty citizenship?

Read the introduction here.

What is beauty?
Writing a book on Black beauty has made me face many challenges. One of these has been unease about knowing just where to start when looking at beauty itself. Should I start with Rastafarianism as a Jamaican or should I start with Ivan Van Sertima’s (1989) Black Women in Antiquity or should I start with the words of Black British women who participated in my research? As you would expect, I suppose, knowing that I am an ethnographer, women’s words are my first port of call. When I asked Ray, a twenty-three-year-old Black ‘mixed race’ British student what Black beauty meant to her she replied:

Black beauty to me is – it’s a tricky question. But I think a really beautiful Black woman or a ‘mixed race’ woman out of them all is the one that has the potential to be stunning. My ideas of Black and beautiful I would say that they originate from my mother’s side of the family also the media probably influenced it. Being at home in Jamaica, what I call home in Jamaica and also even here which has a high Black population and even just within myself as well. Accepting myself as being beautiful I believe was a big step in knowing more about and having ideas on what Black and beautiful are especially from childhood experiences as an example because I grew up in a predominantly white neighbourhood. When I was eleven or twelve I met my best friend and I started to chill with her etc. and go over to Hud and I discovered that my hair, my nose, my lips, my skin colour, everything was actually beautiful and normal if anything above normal standards, normal or better than the norms that I was used to. That is, white straight hair, thin lips you know all that kind of thing, even the colour of the eyes, blue eyes.

With these words Ray orients us to the difficulty of defining once and for all what Black beauty is or could be claimed to be. Instead she points out its complexities when she first says that beauty is about having the potential to be stunning as she makes it clear that beauty is about an appeal to the senses and a judgement is made based on that appeal. For her such judgements have a context in her home in Jamaica, her mother’s family, Black community acknowledgement and acceptance of your beauty, your own acceptance of yourself as beautiful and a continuing uneasy interconnectedness with ideals of white beauty. Black beauty then is lodged in diasporic sociality, sensibilities and processes of transculturation. It is also about racialized aesthetics, the link between the psyche and the social mediated by the surface of the skin and a process of self discovery throughout one’s life…

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Black Skins, Black Masks: Hybridity, Dialogism, Performativity

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Monographs, Women on 2010-05-04 18:07Z by Steven

Black Skins, Black Masks: Hybridity, Dialogism, Performativity

Ashgate Publishing
February 2005
188 pages
234 x 156 mm
Hardback ISBN: 978-0-7546-3641-0

Shirley Anne Tate, Professor of Sociology
Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, United Kingdom

Black Skin, Black Masks: Hybridity, Dialogism, Performativity offers a timely exploration of Black identity and its negotiation. The book draws on empirical work recording everyday conversations between Black women: friends, peers and family members. These conversations are discussed in the light of the work of Homi Bhabha, Stuart Hall, Gerd Baumann, Claire Alexander and others on questions of hybridity, identity, otherness and the development of ‘new ethnicities’. Tate aims to address what she sees as significant omissions in contemporary Black Cultural Studies. She argues that theorists have rarely looked at the process of identity construction in terms of lived-experience; and that they have tended to concentrate on the demise of the essential Black subject, paying little attention to gender.

The book points to a continuation of a ‘politics of the skin’ in Black identities. As such it argues against Bhabha’s claim that essence is not central to hybrid identities. The conversations recorded in the book reveal the ways in which women negotiate the category of Blackness, in what Tate calls a ‘hybridity-of- the-everyday’.

The book introduces a new interpretative vocabulary to look at the ways in which hybridity is orchestrated and fashioned, showing it to be performative, dialogical and dependent on essentialism.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Foucault, Bakhtin, ethnomethodology
  • Critical ontologies and racialized gender
  • Storied hybridity and gendered readings of ‘Race’
  • Beyond hybridity: bodily schema and the ‘Third Space’
  • Resisting Black skin
  • Hybridity, dialogism, performativity
  • Fetishizing community: a politics of skin, homes and belonging
  • Conclusion; Bibliography
  • Index
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