Institutionalised whiteness, racial microaggressions and Black bodies out of place in Higher Education

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On the morning of Friday 3rd February 2017, Femi Nylander - a Black Oxford alumnus - walked through the grounds of Oxford University’s Harris Manchester College. Later that morning a CCTV image of Femi was circulated to staff and students who were urged to ‘maintain vigilance’.
Whilst ‘post-racial’ ideology insists on framing such incidents as isolated aberrations bereft of wider structural and institutional context, in this article I draw upon the theoretical concepts of racial microaggressions and bodies out of place in order to disrupt this hegemonic interpretation.
Adopting the Critical Race Theory (CRT) method of counter-narrative, I centralise the voices of student campaigns as sites of legitimate experiential knowledge. These campaigns reveal a web of whiteness that undergirds Higher Education. It is this web, I argue, that ensnares Femi on the day in question. Thus, Femi’s experience cannot be understood in abstraction from structural white supremacy and institutionalised whiteness.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWhiteness and Education
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2019


  • whiteness
  • racial microaggressions
  • bodies out of place
  • racism
  • Higher Education


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