What started as a conversation in a Duke student lounge in 2018 bloomed into an international conference in January 2020.
The DGHI graduate students who gathered that day — Andrea Koris, Laura Mkumba and Yadurshini Raveendran — received a vibrant response from people all over the world when they organized the “Decolonizing Global Health 2020” conference at Duke, which took place on Jan. 31, 2020.
“I think for us, that first conversation centered around sharing about our different experiences working in global health all over the world in different capacities, and that grew into us wanting to create a safe space for us and our peers to continue this conversation,” said Raveendran MS’20.
The conference (which happened prior to COVID quarantines in the US) drew respected global health experts from all over the world as speakers. More than 250 people attended the in-person event, and another 500 individuals from around the world live-streamed the conference
Decolonization is defined as “a process of dismantling systemic injustices related to race and gender that stem from legacies of colonial hierarchies, on individual, collective, and systems levels" said Andrea Koris MS’20, one of the conference co-founders.
“The goal of global health is to reduce health inequities. And the goal of decolonizing global health is to reduce inequities within the practice of global health,” said Kearsley Stewart, who has appointments in the Duke Global Health Institute and the Department of Cultural Anthropology.
Decolonization isn’t going to happen with just one event, co-founder Laura Mkumba MS’20 noted after the 2020 conference.
“We can’t do this and then check it off. It starts with reflecting on the past and then moving forward. And how we can turn these reflections into actions,” Mkumba said.