“Education to empower”: intersectional Remembrance at St Hild & St Bede


Content warning: mentions of sexual violence

Durham University’s College of St Hild & St Bede are running an Intersectional Remembrance event on Sunday 12th November at 12pm, which will include music, a two minutes’ silence, and a lecture.

The event will take place in Bede Chapel and will feature a talk by Professor Geetanjali Gangoli, a Professor of Sociology at Durham University, on ‘Refugee and asylum seeking women and girls: forgotten survivors of war and conflict’.

Prof Gangoli specialises in the field of gender based violence, particularly in India and in the UK, and in looking at how intersectionality can shape responses to and the experience of reporting gender based violence.

Hoping to encapsulate the theme ‘education to empower’, the Remembrance service aims to motivate people to use Remembrance as a way to shape positive change. Robin Shakespeare, an organiser of the event, told Palatinate that “it’s important to commemorate victims of war and conflict in a way that strengthens and empowers us to continue the fight for peace and equality.

“Remembrance isn’t just about who we remember, it’s about how we remember,” they continued.

“Remembrance isn’t just about who we remember, it’s about how we remember”

Robin Shakespeare

The service hopes to bring greater awareness to survivors of sexual violence during conflict. Prof Gangoli, who is speaking at the event, told Palatinate that, “At the present moment, Remembrance Day is associated with the image of the white British soldier in the world wars, but we can change this by bringing into focus the voices of the forgotten victims and survivors of war and conflict, by seeking them out consciously and being respectful.”

Prof Gangoli’s talk discusses how “war and conflict are intrinsically linked to gender based violence and abuse.

“Women and girls from countries where war and conflict is present are exposed to a higher risk of these forms of abuse while in their country.”

Robin Shakespeare continued to explain that the event “deliberately centres and aims to empower women and people of colour”, using the example of sexual violence to show how we should “broaden” our image of who is impacted by war.

“Where is the room in Remembrance for us to confront this, commemorate that pain, and take away the shame?” Shakespeare asks, “How can we do better without publicly addressing that [sexual violence] happens?”

A list of trigger warnings can be found on the Facebook event page, with a break room at the back for attendees who require it. Food and drink will be provided for free after Prof Gangoli’s lecture.

Image: Rowan Aufrichtig, provided by Robin Shakespeare

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