Organisational Identity and Decolonising Care: Archives, Mission, and International Aid

Dr. Joanna Sadgrove and Dr Alison Searle present Organisational Identity and Decolonising Care: Archives, Mission, and International Aid.


Sir Christopher Codrington’s bequest of two plantations in 1710 constituted The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG; founded 1701) as a corporate owner of enslaved people. This expropriated labour partially resourced their global missionary endeavours during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Engaging with the archive as both a concept and entity has offered United Society Partners in the Gospel (USPG; the organisation in its contemporary form) an opportunity to renegotiate its corporate identity and practice in dialogue with its complex past. USPG’s entangled afterlives pose intellectual and practical complexities for the organisation, as well as for a range of global stakeholders negotiating decolonisation, reciprocity, the inequitable distribution of material and cultural capital, and the narration of these activities. Using USPG as a contemporary case study, this presentation explores organisational identity and decolonial aspiration. Current epistemic hierarchies, shaped by histories of colonisation of territories, bodies, and minds, privilege Western forms of knowledge, modelling, and response to disease outbreak which continue to protect the interests of small elites. We argue that to decolonise care for the future, it is necessary to understand the colonisation of care in the past, the complex structures – epistemological, methodological, and geographical – through which it operated, and its implications for entangled global networks up to the present.