Quilting: for making anticolonial futures

With Mindy Ptolomey (University of Glasgow and Glasgow Caledonian University), Julie McAdam (University of Glasgow) and Srabani Maitra (University of Glasgow) / April 2022 – present.

What is the radical potential of quilts and quilt-making for mobilising different ways of knowing and being in the world? / How might quilt-making, and craft more generally, support Higher Education towards more anticolonial futures?

This project invites past and present staff and students of the School of Education (SoE) at the University of Glasgow to write themselves into the fabric of the School. Through a series of quilt-making and storytelling workshops, participants are supported to assemble the pieces of a patchwork quilt that illustrates, celebrates, and upholds the diversity of the SoE; all the while reflecting upon and discussing the issues that surround contemporary ‘decolonising the curriculum’ debates. This project draws on the radical potential of collaborative quilting, as well as the affordances of the medium to perform alternative stories into being. In doing so, the project is designed to shift from a responsive to generative mode, manifesting something else in place through process (collective quilt making and storytelling) and end result (a SoE quilt). In doing so, the project moves beyond ‘decolonisation’ as a ‘thing’, towards activating anticolonial ways of knowing, being, and becoming within a real-world site of Higher Education.

This project started in collaboration with an Advisory Group, comprised of early career academics in the SoE. The Advisory Group helped refine the research methodology, and collaborated with the researchers in the making of the prototype project quilt (shown below). We sincerely thank the following Advisory Group members for their invaluable contributions: Abimbola Abodunrin, Preeti Dagar, Nihaya Jaber, Qiao Dai, Sundas Mahar, Brittney Nathaniel, Natalie Naihuei Hsieh, and Humera Qazi.

If you have a past or present affiliation with the School of Education at the University of Glasgow and would like to take part in this project, you can register your interest by completing this form.

‘Prototype quilt’, 2023

Thread, fabric, fusible backing.

Embroidered squares by Abimbola Abodunrin, Nihaya Jaber, Qiao Dai, Natalie Naihuei Hsieh, Julie McAdam and Mindy Ptolomey.