Ethnic and Racial Inequity in the Cultural Sector: Confront, Eradicate, Transcend


  • Roaa Ali University of Manchester
  • Asif Majid Independent Scholar


cultural sector, ethnic inequality, racism, diversity


This is the editorial for the IPED special issue titled ‘Intersections, Institutions and Inequities: Axes of Oppression in the Cultural Sector.'


We first conceived of this special issue in the spring of 2018. At the time, the need to address a lack of diversity, problematic discourses around diversity, and the absence of holistic understandings of multiple and intersecting axes of oppression in the cultural sector were vital and critical questions. We received enthusiastic, thought-provoking, generous, and -- at times -- viscerally raw responses to our call for papers. As editors, we were grateful, enthused, and honoured to be able to provide a platform for such rich and important discourse. Now, as we publish this issue in the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, these issues feel more urgent than ever. Many cultural institutions have issued statements of support upholding the message of Black Lives Matter. Some have been genuine, while others have been performative. Nonetheless, the movement has laid bare -- for those who previously ignored such truths -- the many racist practices, structures, and attitudes embedded in the cultural sector’s daily operations. The summer of 2020 brought forward brave and honest accounts of the lived experience of inequity experienced by numerous Black and ethnically diverse students, cultural workers, and artists. As a contribution to those conversations, this special issue could not be timelier.

Author Biographies

Roaa Ali, University of Manchester

Roaa Ali is a Research Associate at the University of Manchester (Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity). Her research explores the access and representation of Black and ethnically diverse people in culture, and the politics of cultural production and consumption. Roaa completed her PhD at the University of Birmingham and her thesis investigates the representation of Arab Americans in post 9/11 American cultural scene and theatre, which is the subject of a forthcoming monograph. Some of her publications appear in: Research in Drama Education (RiDE), Journal of Arts and Community, The Methuen Drama Companion to Theatre and Interculturalism, and Accessibility, Inclusion, and Diversity in Critical Events.

Asif Majid, Independent Scholar

Asif Majid is a scholar-artist-educator who works at the intersection of Islam, media, marginality, and politics, particularly through community-based participatory theatre. He has a PhD in Anthropology, Media, and Performance from The University of Manchester, an MA with Distinction in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University, and a self-designed BA in Interdisciplinary Studies (summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa) from UMBC. Asif has published in multiple peer-reviewed theatre journals, as well as numerous books and media outlets. His performance credits include work with the Kennedy Center (US), Convergence Theatre (US), the Royal Exchange Theatre (UK), Action Transport Theatre (UK), and Unity Theatre (UK). From 2017-2019, Asif was a Lab Fellow with The Laboratory for Global Performance and Performance. Currently, he is a Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow with the San Francisco Arts Commission. He can be found online at