What is it about?

This paper traces the impact of Critical Race Theory in academia in the UK since 2003. It examines the spread of CRT-influenced research and writing, particularly among English education researchers. The paper traces the landmark writing, networks and events through which CRT has become embedded in the UK. It reflects on why CRT has become influential among black and anti-racist scholars in the UK and why it has also attracted often vitriolic opposition. Why has CRT polarised academic opinion?

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Why is it important?

This paper is important because, at a time when debates about the 'decolonisation' of higher education abound, the influence of Critical Race Theory as a conceptual framework for understanding racism and 'minoritisation' has been significant. In research on race, education and social justice, CRT has been successfully transferred from its US origins and embedded in the English context. Yet its US origins and its unapologetic roots in critical black Atlantic thought have prompted opposition in some academic quarters. The paper argues that this antipathy tells us very little about CRT or about contemporary race and class relationships but is actually rooted in a longstanding paternalistic suspicion of race-conscious social analyses.

Perspectives

The growth of Critical Race Theory in the UK has been testament to the continuing strength of race-conscious scholarship in the UK, despite such work often being marginalised in academia. However, as someone who has worked in the field of race and social justice for over thirty years I have also been struck by how criticisms of CRT have echoed previous disparagement of race-conscious social analyses in the UK, wherein black Atlantic thought has often been seen as an interloper that has distracted us from 'real' political and sociological concerns.

Paul Warmington
University of Warwick

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This page is a summary of: Critical race theory in England: impact and opposition, Identities, March 2019, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.1080/1070289x.2019.1587907.
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