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Oxford University is hiring a researcher to study its colonial past – inspired by SA’s ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ movement

Phillip de Wet , Business Insider SA
 Mar 22, 2019, 03:21 PM
  • St John's College at Oxford University is hiring a postdoctoral researcher to spend two years digging into its own role in colonialism – at a salary of some R1.2 million.
  • The research is inspired by the Rhodes Must Fall movement, the college says in its job ad.
  • But if you're from a former British colony such as, oh, say South Africa, don't bother applying unless you already have the right to work in the United Kingdom.

St John's, a constituent college of Oxford University, is looking for a postdoctoral researcher to look into its role in British colonialism, the establishment of the British Empire, and how it benefitted from colonialism – inspired by Rhodes Must Fall.

The college this week posted a job ad for the position, which will pay a minimum of the equivalent of R600,000 per year for two years.

"Oxford in general helped to educate and train colonial administrators; missionaries; apologists for, and critics, of empire; and significant leaders and creators of newly independent states," the college says about the position.

There are "compelling intellectual and ethical reasons for institutions of higher education to face up to the role they played in the British empire" it said.

The college said that the drive to decolonise universities has not spread around the the scholarly world. The initial push to decolonise universities spread from the Rhodes Must Fall movement at the University of Cape Town.

St John's believes that Oxford University did not own slaves, but "undoubtedly benefitted from the largesse of those who did". It also points to looted objects at university museums as an area that requires investigation. 

"The researcher will also undertake work on the material remains -- what French historians have called the lieux de me´moire -- of empire: the monuments, objects, pictures, and buildings that evoke the colonial past," the extended job description reads.

Despite dealing with British colonies, the job can only go to someone who already has the right to work in the United Kingdom, the college said; getting the job would not qualify an academic for the necessary visa to get into the country.

It does, however, welcome candidates "who would be eligible to obtain a visa via another route", the college said.

According to The Guardian St John’s is the wealthiest of Oxford colleges, with more than £500 million – some R9.4 billion – in assets.

For more, go to Business Insider South Africa.

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