Launch of the Anti-Racist Research Toolkit

By Dr Katy Sian, published: 10/06/2024.

As the Centre’s Lead for Race and Ethnicity, I am delighted to announce the launch of the Anti-Racist research toolkit. The toolkit has been developed to support development of anti-racist research within the Centre and in the wider academic community, offering information and ideas around how to produce anti-racist research.

Anti-racist research relies upon a commitment to actively dismantle systemic and individual forms of racism, and promises to empower communities through research that centres social justice. The purpose of the toolkit is to support researchers and practitioners from different disciplinary backgrounds to generate projects that can create meaningful change in society.

The toolkit focuses on conceptual, methodological, and structural concerns, and encourages researchers to reflect upon their practice and positionality. By applying an anti-racist approach to our research we are able to think critically about how we can design, create and disseminate research that serves public interest and contributes to positive transformation.

For too long, social and scientific research has been guilty of perpetuating racial inequalities and harmful stereotypes. The toolkit calls for researchers to confront their power and privilege and develop new practices that foster inclusivity and criticality. Under-represented and marginalised communities have been exploited across all areas of research in the Global North. An anti-racist approach prioritises collectivity and diversity to ensure that different voices, perspectives, and understandings are integrated into research designs, processes and outputs.

The toolkit invites researchers to develop innovative methodological frameworks through collaboration and co-production. It develops new ethical protocols to prevent harm and exploitation, whereby participants are viewed as active agents in shaping research and knowledge agendas. By engaging with the toolkit, users will learn about responsibility and accountability to ensure that the rights and dignity of participants are respected at all times. The toolkit also examines at the structural level, how research teams, centres, and projects can implement good practice through Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity initiatives (EDI) that will contribute to the development of an equitable research environment for all.

The toolkit is a vital framework to support the further development of anti-racist research in the Vulnerability & Policing Futures Research Centre. As a Centre that works on issues of policing and vulnerability, we are involved in research that is highly complex and sensitive and therefore have a collective responsibility to reflect upon our own practices and develop new ways to eradicate harm and exploitation by holding ourselves to account. We cannot escape the fact that the fields of policing and vulnerability are inherently shaped by racism, and we must acknowledge this truth across our research. People of colour across the world remain vulnerable to over-policing, and through the routinisation of racial profiling, incarceration, police brutality and use of excessive force, they continue to experience high levels of trauma, fear, and a deep sense of mistrust. Historically and presently, people of colour have been criminalised and failed both by the police and wider support services.

At the Centre, we plan to use to toolkit to bring questions of race to the fore across our research teams and projects, to drive forward work which has the opportunity to support and empower the most vulnerable in our society. Embedding anti-racist principles within our centre not only enhances the integrity and quality of our research, but also contributes to a more equitable and just society. This is the heart of anti-racist research, that is, to provide alternative, critical narratives that promote and facilitate social justice, by challenging hegemonic forms of whiteness. We are aware that we still have a long way to go, but we are committed to continuous learning and improvement to ensure that our Centre can play a vital role in driving anti-racism forward.