Decolonial and feminist writing workshop for Early Career Researcher at BAICE Conference 2022: ‘leaving’ our comfort zone

Photo of a traditional mobile home
Source: Eva Bulgrin

Making time for writing in academia remains to be challenging. As initial studies have shown, it is especially difficult for young female researchers in the ongoing context of the pandemic, with sharp inequalities in knowledge production often at the expense of researchers in and from the Global South. This contrasts with the requirement, particularly for early-career researchers (ECRs), to publish fast and in high-ranking journals to ‘develop’ and ‘sustain’ in academia.

Our workshop for ECRs takes up the conference theme of ‘Partnerships in education’ to offer a shared and collective space for writing and reflecting. As ECRs ourselves, we conceptualise the workshop to think collaboratively and write generatively from feminist, post- and decolonial perspectives (Ashcroft et al., 1995; Danvers et al., 2019; Griffiths & Tiffin, 2003; Richardson, 2001). The 90-minute workshop provides balanced input, time to write, and space to exchange and cover a combination of academic and creative writing techniques.

Dealing creatively with the private and the public self in academic writing, we introduce participants to two types of writing: internal and outreach writing (Connell, 2015). Writing for the self, internal writing is mainly informal writing and includes, but is not limited, to fieldwork diaries, observations, interview transcripts and even emails. Outreach writing takes the findings to wider audiences, such as workshops, popular science and social media.

In the taking up of our ‘selves’, we focus on the fluidity and ‘dynamic’ of writing to challenge fixities through our work and research in education. Our interest in this workshop lies in the (re)claiming and foregrounding of the ‘I’ or self to acknowledge writing as personal as well as political. By critically reflecting on the centrality of power, researcher positionality and language in writing, our aim is to discuss the inseparability of the researcher from the writing and the im/possibilities and un/certainties of capturing truth (Hunt, 2013; Wadhwa, 2021).


F marks the start

E adds a horizontal line

M changes directions

I abstracts

N re-orients

I abstracts again

S shows equilibrium

T marks the start of feminist.

D like Discovery

E like Embodiment

C like Context

O is involved in pOwer relations

L like (colonial) Language

O hides in pOsitionality

N like Non-conventional writing

I like I, myself and my positionality

A like Alongside each other

L like writing about our Lives.

Writing-up ideas

Reflexive and collective thinking

In shared and collective spaces

To reconceptualise writing

In between-ness of spaces

Non-linear temporalities

Generating new knowledge.

Poem by Eva Bulgrin

Image Source: Public Domain Pexels

Approach and contribution

Thinking of feminist writing as a method of discovery, always done in specific, local and historical contexts. Academic writing is always writing about our lives (Richardson, 2001), simultaneously acknowledging that we are part of a wider community. As such, feminist writing helps us to think collectively and reflexively about the process and product of writing in creative and critical ways (Danvers et al., 2019).

Thinking of post- and decolonial writing as a commitment to language and epistemic recognition: Unlearning institutional language still dominating knowledge frameworks, reinstating unequal power relations and patterns of coloniality. Listening to the tonality of words and conveying endogenous meanings, e.g. ‘language’, ‘home’, ‘here’, as suggested by Dennis Lee in his claim to the ‘cadence of the presence’ (in Ashford et al., 1995, 397-401).

Thinking of feminist, post- and decolonial writing is about paying attention to context, our positionality and involvement in the research as colonial subjects or writers in between colonial spaces. Playing with language, getting out of our comfort zone, pushing our thinking and writing towards an end, we don’t know yet. So we look forward to welcoming you and engaging together in a collaborative process of thinking collectively and reflexively about ourselves as writers and our writing.


Ashcroft, B., Griffiths, G., & Tiffin, H. (1995). The post-colonial studies reader (B. Ashcroft, G. Griffiths, & H. Tiffin (eds.)). Routledge.

Connell, R. (2015). Writing for research strategies. Research Strategies, 1–43.

Danvers, E., Hinton-Smith, T., & Webb, R. (2019). Power, pedagogy and the personal: feminist ethics in facilitating a doctoral writing group. Teaching in Higher Education, 24(1), 32–46.

Griffiths, G., & Tiffin, H. (2003). Empire Writes Back : Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures. Taylor & Francis Group.

Hunt, C. (2013). Transformative Learning Through Creative Life Writing : Exploring the Self in the Learning Process.

Richardson, L. (2001). Getting personal: Writing-stories. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 14(1), 33–38.

Wadhwa, G. (2021). Ethics of Positionality in Capturing Adivasi Youth ‘Voices’ in a Village Community in India. In G. Spencer (Ed.), Ethics and Integrity in Research with Children and Young People (pp. 89–103). Emerald Publishing.


  • Eva Bulgrin

    Dr Eva Bulgrin is a Research Fellow at the University of Münster (Germany), a Research Associate at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (South Africa), and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Sussex (UK). Her research interests extend from basic to higher education, and include post-structural, feminist and postcolonial theories; issues of quality, equity & inclusion; governance, globalisation, democracy & power.

  • Gunjan Wadhwa

    Dr Gunjan Wadhwa is a Lecturer in Education at Brunel University London and a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Sussex. Her research interests involve sociology of education and international development, with a focus on identities, youth, gender and citizenship and drawing on postcolonial and decolonial studies, enriched through feminist and poststructural frameworks.

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