We welcome you to the second edition of the Cambridge University Social Anthropology Society (CUSAS) Magazine, organised by the 2022-23 CUSAS Committee. We have entitled the Easter 2023 edition: ‘Methodologies for Decolonisation’. In selecting this focus, we hoped to allow room for a variety of inquiries and contexts of exploration within our Department’s scholarly community.
As we stated in our previous edition, CUSAS’ vision is of a Department wherein students and staff are exposed to challenging and diverse views which further their anthropological interest and facilitate both academic achievement and social change. We believe that focusing on methodology, broadly, and decolonising, in particular, are crucial to that aim. Decolonising our discipline and our institution requires us to take a look in the mirror and to dissect our histories, logics, and embodied experiences.
Throughout the year, CUSAS has created events that open up the opportunity for remembering, critically discussing, and learning about ‘decolonisation’ and ‘methodologies’ as explored in anthropology. This has included the inaugural bi-weekly CUSAS reading group, entitled ‘Decolonisation and Methodologies in Anthropology’, where members have been able to wrestle with a variety of scholarly work focused on questioning methodology and expanding our notions of ‘decolonisation’ within the discipline. This included an extended engagement with discussions of anthropology’s theoretical and methodological considerations in studies of the anthropocene, more-than-human relationships, and the environment. You can find a comprehensive bibliography from this year’s reading group here. Thank you to our 2022-23 CUSAS Committee for their contributions to and organisation of this reading group!
Building on our Lent edition, which focused on ‘Decolonisation’ (view our last edition here), the CUSAS Committee wanted to grant our members the opportunity to reflect on methodologies that align our discipline with decolonisation. Our contributors have written pieces that draw on personal experience, research context, histories, and popular culture.
CUSAS is pleased to feature the works of Jasper Waugh-Quasebarth and Toyin Agbetu. Dr Waugh-Quasebarth’s piece exemplifies how ethnographic research processes can be community-based and reciprocal and, therefore, decolonising through shifting power dynamics. Dr Agbetu’s discussion takes up the figure of the scholar-activist as an imperative for our discipline’s decolonial reckoning within our classrooms and research contexts.
We would also like to thank our student contributors for undertaking the topic of ‘methodologies for decolonisation’, a difficult endeavour to undertake, in impressively nuanced ways. Their work considers how decolonisation can appear in our ethnographic research and subsequent presentation in various contexts around the world, and suggests extensions for anthropological analysis to aid our discipline toward decolonisation.
As always, the pieces by our contributors do not aim to provide definitive answers. However, their arguments act as a starting point for discussions of decolonisation and methodologies in the discipline of anthropology. This is a vital conversation as we consider the future trajectories of our discipline and its ability to grow its capacity to contribute to our world.
We, the editors, would like to thank you for allowing us to initiate deeper discussion about decolonisation and methodologies within the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge. This experience has been more than humbling. It has been instructive, liberating, and affirming. We look forward to seeing how these conversations flower within the Department in the coming academic year.
The CUSAS Magazine Co-Editors
Adaiah Hudgins-Lopez, PhD Social Anthropology
Edurne Sosa El-Fakih, MPhil Social Anthropology
Adaiah Hudgins-Lopez is a writer, dancer, and creative pursuing a PhD in Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge. She is a 2021 and 2022 Gates Cambridge Scholar and a member of Trinity College. Her writing and creative work centres Afrofuturist musings, narratives of migration, and explorations of community and movement building. She believes in the power of reciprocal storytelling to change the trajectory of how people relate to each other and the value of uplifting voices from the margins.
Edurne Sosa El Fakih is an MPhil student in Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge. She is a member of Girton College and Maria Luisa de Sanchez Scholarship recipient. Edurne has served as a content writer for BELatina and Nuestro Stories, focusing on Hispanic culture, heritage, and complex experiences in the United States. Her book, Al borde de un viaje (2021), is a creative project that addresses issues of uprooting, migration, and nostalgia.