UWI St. Augustine’s Cultural Studies Society Engages In DE-CODING Equality For DE-CODE Session 2

On Tuesday July 14, 2020 the UWI St. Augustine’s Cultural Studies Society (CSS) hosted its first online dialogue in the DE-CODE series, ‘What are we worth? – Discussions on equality, human rights and social justice’. The CSS received a favourable response for this session which was evidenced through:
  • Pre-event media coverage generated;
  • 120+ registrations from persons in Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Barbados, Jamaica, the USA, Canada, the UK, Spain, the Netherlands, the UAE, Ghana and South Africa;
  • 70 attendees of which a significant percentage actively participated in the dialogue; and
  • Positive feedback documented via an audience poll.
These results demonstrate the relevance of the topic coupled with a keen desire from members of Caribbean diasporic communities to address, discuss and find solutions to these critical and very complicated issues.

Tessa Alexander
Visual artist, art educator, part-time lecturer, wife and mother, Tessa Alexander Sloane Seale, explores cultural identity as it relates to everyday aspects of life. Photo courtesy Tessa Alexander Sloane Seale.

The overarching imperative of Cultural Studies is to articulate conditions of struggle, oppression, subordination and disempowerment of the voiceless, the ordinary person and the working class. This focus on conditions of struggle and oppression, that is largely in relation to political, economic and social systems of power (political economy), aims to validate the cultural experiences of the oppressed while nurturing in them self-confidence to assert their values and agency. The multidisciplinary approach of Cultural Studies presents a broad perspective in critical questioning that challenges popular ideology thereby presenting complications, complexities and tensions that define the problematic. The relationship between Cultural Studies and political economy, underpinned by this far-reaching approach to inquiry, provides a fulcrum upon which to anchor our discussions with our objective to unpack and decode the complex topics of identity, racism, classism, colourism, structural inequality, representation, citizenship, social justice and so much more. 

Yvonne Webber
As a mother, teacher and theatre practitioner, Yvonne Webber, practises “service above self” with her passion for creating spaces for people to develop their communities. Photo courtesy Yvonne Webber.

As the CSS strives to fulfil its mandate, to achieve its DE-CODE objectives, to better serve its members and society and to keep improving on its efforts, the society felt it necessary to take time to review and evaluate Session 1. In this process, the DE-CODE organising committee spent time absorbing and reflecting on the various elements in the unfolding of the event as well as the rich, and at times, impassioned discussions which were engaged. In its evaluation, the committee came to a deeper understanding of the need for education and awareness surrounding key concepts, terminology and issues such as equality, the basic rights of human beings, social justice and privilege.

Sean Samad
With his passion for culture and communication, global citizen, Sean Samad, is a Brazilianist, a part-time lecturer and a Cultural Studies PhD candidate who has focused his research in part on Brazil. Photo courtesy Sean Samad.

In taking responsibility as Cultural Studies practitioners, for Session 2, the CSS will employ a Cultural Studies lens to narrow its focus on ‘DE-CODING Equality’ with a discussion between three (3) of its CSS members, visual artist, art educator and part-time lecturer at the UWI, St. Augustine, Tessa Alexander Sloan Seale, teacher and theatre practitioner, Yvonne Webber, and Brazilianist and communications specialist, Sean Samad. With its aim to nurture awareness, empathy, compassion and transformation, it is the society’s hope that participants leave the session with a more nuanced understanding of equality so that they may be energised and empowered to tap into their agency to effect positive change in their lives and communities. The second session will take place next, Tuesday July 28, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. AST via Zoom. To be a part of the second DE-CODE discussion, please register in advance at http://bit.ly/DECODESession2Reg to participate via Zoom and/or join the FB Event page at http://bit.ly/DECODESession2FBEvent to view the live stream. 

The CSS is an organisation at the UWI, St Augustine, led by students of the Cultural Studies programme. The purpose of the organisation is to promote discussion, debate and awareness of the various issues that underscore our society, culture and how we see ourselves and others as Caribbean people. For more information, connect with the CSS via IG and FB @culturalstudiessociety or email uwiculturalstudies.society@gmail.com.

WHAT:    DE-CODE Session 2: DE-CODING Equality
WHO:      Cultural Studies Society at UWI, St. Augustine
WHEN:    Tuesday July 28, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. AST
WHERE:  Zoom and streaming via FB LIVE @culturalstudiessociety
REGISTRATION:  Register in advance at http://bit.ly/DECODESession2Reg
FB LIVE STREAM:  http://bit.ly/DECODESession2FBEvent