Question Twenty One

21. The Location of Bristol 

  • Q: Why is Bristol well placed for this centre?  Anonymous 

A: There are, perhaps, two parts to the answer. 

The first concerns reasons why a UK University is well-placed to host a Centre on Africa research and cooperation. 

As noted earlier, we consider Global North-Africa research cooperation a key element of the larger global research ecosystem – and believe that change, or transformation, in such cooperation is required as an important part, or even an enabler of wider structural shifts in the system as a whole.  As parties in global North-Africa research cooperation, UK Universities generally, have an active part to play, indeed have a responsibility to play a part, (in conjunction with African constituencies), in advancing the necessary transformation; ensuring that needed change on their side happens.   

The second concerns reasons why the University of Bristol (UoB) is well-placed in the UK to host a Centre on Africa research and cooperation.  

We consider that transformation will, inevitably, mean a ceding of authority and resources on the part of global North institutions, and a reorientation to ways of doing or seeing things.  Both may be difficult, even uncomfortable.  Bristol – both the University and the city –  is, we feel, particularly well positioned to champion such transformation, given: UoB’s long-established culture of social and civic responsibility, alternative thinking and activism (including its readiness to face difficult questions about its own links to colonialism and the slave trade – and about implications for the future); and the city’s communities’ central role in anti-racism movements and, more recently, Black Lives Matter. PARC will be able to draw richly on both.