Nae Place for Racism

In the wake of the recent racist attack on a student outside the University library, CSAS students have penned the following open letter. We applaud them for taking this initiative, and stand with them in condemning racism of all forms and demanding action to create safe and equal spaces.

Nae Place for Racism
We the students of the Centre for South Asian Studies strongly condemn the racist attack on the seventeen-year-old East Asian student on the university campus. An attack of this nature is not the first of its kind and sadly the end to them does not seem very near. The University of Edinburgh, where many international students arrive every year and call home, must actively call out against perpetrators of racist and other forms of discriminatory crimes. Such crimes are structural in nature and the response to it must be nothing less than a structural shift in the ways universities perceive and treat its BAME staff and students.
It should not take a violent incident like this one to remind the authorities of the greater changes that must be made to not just aim but to create safe, equal and free university spaces for all. The immediate action expected from the university after this brutal reminder is to have a 24/7 helpline number specifically meant for crimes of racist nature ensuring quick medical and psychological help to the victim even before any formal complaint is made. Placing the responsibility of reaching out on the victim adds to their trauma and so the university must be proactive in its efforts to aid the victims of such crimes.
Several staff and students have been working towards creating spaces at the institutional level for dialogues and changes around the issues of race. However, much needs to be done from the side of the university in ensuring a zero tolerance to discriminatory and racist crimes on campus. An increased surveillance is not what is required, rather an increased sensibility towards issues of race, gender, sexuality, religion, region, caste, class, disability is.
We wholeheartedly support the ongoing protests organised by Racism Unmasked Edinburgh. And strongly condemn this incident and expect greater changes from the university.
Centre for South Asian Studies Students, University of Edinburgh

Black Lives Matter

As members of the Centre for South Asian Studies we, like millions around the World, have been sickened and outraged by the killing of George Floyd and the callous brutality of the violence inflicted upon him. We join in the global calls for justice, accountability and change and stand in solidarity with George Floyd’s family and the wider Black Lives Matter movement.

We boldly declare ‘Black Lives Matter’.

We are heartened by the widespread protests that have occurred, and the spaces that these have opened up to address endemic and institutionalised racism in different contexts.

As scholars of South Asia, we are aware that racism and discrimination exist in many forms against oppressed groups and minorities. Some of the earliest South Asian statements condemning the brutal killing of George Floyd came from Dalit (formerly untouchable) groups, who themselves continue to be marginalised and discriminated against both at home and in the diaspora. The outrage we express towards atrocities elsewhere, should not blind us to those that occur within our own settings either in Edinburgh or South Asia.

Expressing our anger at racist or casteist violence is not enough. We need to be more proactive in acknowledging popular and structural racism and seeking to address such inequalities. We are painfully aware that Scotland, and our own institution of The University of Edinburgh, are not innocent in this regard. Both have been shaped by colonial legacies. As a Centre we are committed to efforts to tackle racism and fully support ongoing efforts to decolonise the curriculum and deepen understanding of the past and its legacy. We also endorse moves to attract more BAME staff and students such that we better represent the communities we are part of.

Talat Ahmed and Hugo Gorringe, Co-Directors of CSAS, Edinburgh.