Practical Support: a SPARK interview

Dialogue with SPARK Academia Chair - Harshad Keval

Publishing date
10 Jul 2024
Author
LianeR
Liane R
Communication Expert
SPARK Communities

Harshad Keval is a Sociology Lecturer (Race and Decolonial Social Theory) based in Scotland, and serves as Chair of SPARK Academia Community at Foundation ENAR.

What are your favourite things about your background?

The fact that it's all so wonderfully mixed up! It means that I can pick, choose, celebrate, communicate or drop elements of language, culture, sociology, knowledge, music, literature, film, socio-economic classes, ethnicities, nationalities, belonging, memory, humilities... all to help make life interesting, meaningful, fun and worth remembering!

How did you end up at ENAR Foundation as SPARK Academia Chair?

Word of mouth. A good colleague of mine sent me the advert saying that it was something that might interest me at this point in my working journey - they were right!

You’re an advisor for EU for a day. What change would you recommend here and now? Why?

Well, that's a BIG question, and probably requires more expertise than I have! But I guess what I am always looking for is the political intellect, will, and practical support to nourish networks of alliance, resistance and solidarity for the most marginalised in all aspects of everyday life.

For this network, this means looking at the complex, multiple ways that race and racisms work - invisibly and explicitly as discrimination and violence engines. 

  1. more coherent, cross-border working to produce for example, coherent data on the experiences of racialised academic staff and students across Europe; Several initiatives for close-working exist at the moment (e.g. Bologna process, European Universities Initiative, etc) but these are not comprehensive or widely known about.

  2. more explicit, anti-colonial, anti-racist intersectional stance across European countries - at the moment, this is not the case.

  3. local support hubs in each region, supporting staff and students, so that support is available in legal and academic terms.

  4. more grounded, community-based intersection between academia and social contexts, so that a joined-up advancement for civic society becomes the basis of belonging for as wide a community as possible. At the moment, especially in Europe but also in the UK, we are seeing classic cycles of the young, marginalised and excluded, preferring allegiance to right-wing groups because of the fantasy of 'quick-answers' to their problems. 

What book did you enjoy lately and would want to see more people reading it?

I always have about 6 books on the go at any given time... something of a fault of mine I try hard not to correct (reading should be about learning and curiosity moods, not a chore!). 

I recently read a very powerful book, not the most light hearted bed-time read, "The Disappearance of Josef Mengele: A Novel" by Oliver Guez, which I found profound because of what is happening right now in Gaza, and the genocide that has been normalised. Looking at the history of Europe, Germany and Nazism yields important questions about how European values and moralities have always been selective and based on racial ordering. The novel reminded me of how easy it can be to live everyday normal lives, whilst great atrocities are being carried out. As a theorist, writer, and activist in anti-racisms, decolonial social theory and practice, these things are never too far away, and are a feature of the last 500 years. 

The book I have with me at all times is "Do Pause: You are not a to Do List" by Robert Poynton, utterly invaluable, as pausing, being still is not about a lack of something; rather, it is rich, and full of important nourishment humans need. We live in a world dominated by the appearance of busyness and success - but I think this simply fuels a harmful inner erosion, something capitalism thrives on. 

*****

Foundation ENAR is building and powering up three SPARK Communities, and growing:

SPARK DEI; SPARK Academia; SPARK Teachers

Meet Harshad Comic Strip Orange Harshad Community comic strip Foundation ENAR Team comic strip

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