The Critical Race and Ethnicities Network (CREN) is an inderdisciplinary and cross-institutional network of postgraduate researchers based in the UK. Adopting a post-structural philosophy, which draws on the perspectives of post-colonialism, critical race theory, and black feminism, this network aims to divert discussions of race and ethnicity in academia away from the theoretical, and towards a recognition of the particular role that ‘race’ and ‘ethnicity’ play in academics’ everyday research and practice. A large part of the network’s role in achieving this will be to provide support for other postgraduate students working on these issues, so that they may form networks, create collaborations, and engage critically with their own work, and the work of others.
Initially set up by students at the Universities of Sheffield, Leeds and York, CREN was successful in its 2014/15 bid for funding from the White Rose Doctoral Training Centre (WRDTC). In spite of its ‘White Rose’ status, CREN has always been keen to develop the network in ways which push against the rigidities of academic hierarchy in the UK, and from the outset sought to form collaborations and alliances with other academic institutions, grassroots organisations, and community activists.
Through different pots of money, CREN hosted a series of events between 2014 – 2017, including 2 conferences and a number of seminars that pushed for a re-thinking of the purposes of academia.
In 2016/17, CREN committee members decided to organise a CREN edited book to signal the end of work to be done within CREN. This book came from an awareness of the struggles be facing racialised peoples in the Trump/Brexit era that we have entered, and a need for anti-racist organisers and scholars to begin analysing how to move within this new reality.
Our own desire to celebrate and finish the work that we have done with CREN stemmed from a belief in the importance of being upfront about the temporality of these networks: they crop up and disappear at different points in time, and CREN allowed us to go a certain distance with our thinking and our need to connect with other critical scholars. However, we went as far as we could with that particular iteration of anti-racist organisation, and we are now prepared to develop new and different ways to do the same work.